Scott and I were out for our first date night post-baby when we were browsing through a bookstore. Admittedly, I was a little anxious to be getting home, so I was walking through the aisles a little faster that I should have been, and barely (if at all) following whatever Scott was saying. When we reached “O” in the “Fiction & Literature” section, I stopped dead in my tracks. Reaching onto a shelf I told Scott: “I know I shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but this looks like a book I would read”.
Fast forward a few days later, and I opened my Christmas gift from Scott – an eReader. The first thing I did was buy Mr. Fox by Helen Oyeymi. Over the next 10 nights (because late night feeding time is now also late night reading time!), I poured through this inventive novel in which a writer’s muse comes to life, each taking a turn in writing their story.
When I reached the end, and it was smack you in the face obvious that there were ties between this book and the French fable of Bluebeard, I knew I was missing out some key details, not having read that fable.
It turns out this isn’t the first time I had shirked the obvious good-reader-instinct to pour through some fairy tales. When I was working on my thesis, and needing another primary text by Margaret Atwood, I remember having to steer the conversation away from specific texts in which Atwood wrote heavily in the vein of fairy tales. Sure, fairy tale theory played heavily into the initial proposal I had written for my Master’s thesis, but I didn’t even take the time to delve into any fairy tales while writing that proposal. In the end, fairy tale theory seemed pretty “talked out” when it came to Atwood, so I moved elsewhere, and tried to never look back.
Until I read Mr. Fox. A sign of a good book is one that makes you ask questions in order to dig deeper into the book. And unfortunately, this good book is making me ask questions even after I’m done. While I definitely enjoyed the plays on narrative point of view in Mr. Fox, I know I’ll have to give it another read, once I’ve brushed up on my fairy tales.
Book: Mr. Fox
Author: Helen Oyeyemi
Features: fun with narrative point of view
Who should read it: those who have read (real) fairy tales (none of this “Disney” crap)