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Mr. Fox

3.58  ·  Rating details ·  9,512 ratings  ·  1,534 reviews
It’s a bright afternoon in 1938 and Mary Foxe is in a confrontational mood. St John Fox, celebrated novelist, hasn’t seen her in six years. He’s unprepared for her afternoon visit, not least because she doesn’t exist. He’s infatuated with her. But he also made her up.
“You’re a villain,” she tells him. ‘A serial killer . . . can you grasp that?”
Will Mr Fox meet his muse’s c
Paperback, 278 pages
Published June 3rd 2011 by Picador
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Al I'm someone with diagnosed "anxious tendencies" and quite enjoy the first few chapters, even before bed, so yes :)…moreI'm someone with diagnosed "anxious tendencies" and quite enjoy the first few chapters, even before bed, so yes :)(less)

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Average rating 3.58  · 
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Helen Oyeyemi can write voices. Men’s voices, women’s voices, English voices, American voices, Nigerian voices, French voices, human voices, animal voices.
I’d trust her to write an authentic voice from any geographical location, any time frame, any political situation, any gender, any species.
Because Helen Oyeyemi truly owns the world she lives in.

She can write stories that become novels and novels made from stories.
She can write in different styles, be it myth or modern.
She can play around wit
Dec 04, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This is not a book for the light of mind, or faint of heart.

There is such a haunting, beautiful ... emptiness ... to it all, that I feel I should be giving it more stars than I am. Every body else seems to think it's a good read, and so I must be missing something, right? But the majority of those who say what a good book it really is don't seem to know why.

Let me suggest a Poem:

I heard of a man
who says words so beautifully
that if he only speaks their name
women give themselves to him.

If I am
He shrugged. "These are our circumstances. I'm just trying to make sense of them," he said.
Mary was silent.
"Everyone dies." He smiled crookedly. "I doubt it's ever a pleasant experience. So does it really matter how it happens?"
"Yes!" She put a hand on his arm, trying to pass her shock through his skin. "Yes."
This starts off cute, then begins to cut. It's metafiction, but in the sense of reality feeding books feeding reality, the recursiveness of ideology as word turns work in the most
Jan 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this because it is so imaginative and clever but I found it hard to finish and didn't feel like I "got" it. This was one of those books that was so enamored with its conceit that at times it loses the reader. Still, this is an audacious, important book well worth reading. ...more
Jun 25, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I am so pleased that I picked up this book, because it has reminded me that life is far too short to persist with books that you don't like. This book is so capital-m Meta that it's probably illegal to write a review of it. Luckily, the novel was so busy interrogating tropes and questioning literary conventions and borrowing from genres that it didn't even notice when I shut it at about page 100 and shelved it.

I want a story and characters, which probably makes me more conservative than a Mad Me
Friederike Knabe
Jul 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: uk-lit
Mr. Fox is about the most enchanting and captivating book I have read in quite some time. Helen Oyeyemi is a highly inventive and multi-faceted storyteller. Her characters are both anchored in reality and in the worlds of fantasy and fairy tales. They can be serious or funny and ironic, they can fall in love beyond bounds or hate with a passion, they can be docile and subdued or vicious and violent. Underneath it all are serious issues being addressed despite the playful manner in which the nove ...more
2 stars
3 stars
4 stars
4.5 stars
5 stars!!

Well I liked the opening, but it took me a while to get over the slime of St John, the sleaziness he spread everywhere. There was a voice, a piping, femme-seeming voice struggling with self-confidence that seemed to be Mary's, but nothing was clean, there was this fug of the male gaze. The women were preoccupied with their looks, their attractiveness, craving male attention. But this gender horror is real, rape culture is in us, there is no pure desire, pur
Jan 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: recs, 2020
Fantastical and full of mystery, Mr. Fox offers a series of surreal, enigmatic variations on the titular fairytale, along with “Bluebeard.” Each tale starts simply but takes many unexpected turns and becomes increasingly baroque, and all are framed by an overarching narrative, in which St. John Fox, a famous novelist, is admonished by Mary Fox, a figure of his imagination, to not write sexist novels normalizing violence against women. As the work unfolds characters start to hop across stories an ...more
Vulpes - Latin for fox. Old French goupil derives from the Latin, but the popularity of Le Roman De Renart and the bad augur of actually naming the 'verminous' creature meant that renard became used, first as a euphemism, and then as the standard term for fox. Reynard, associated with Reinhard, which comes from old German Regin - counsel and hart - strong, thus someone who is resourceful, quick-witted, clever. The English word fox is similar to the German Fuchs, which apparently corresponds to t ...more
Jan 23, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I went into this with a slight disadvantage since I don't really know the fairytales/folklore that this book plays with, so I feel like I missed out on a lot of the interesting things that Oyeyemi does here. Also, this is Meta with a capital "M" which I can sometimes enjoy but I think a full novel and pushing and pulling and twisting literary devices got to be a bit wearing for me.

However, man can Oyeyemi write a story. If I took this as a short story collection, then man, these are some freaki
This was nothing like I expected and I absolutely loved the whole fascinating, strange, perfectly sensible, crazy thing. Review posted in roundup of books on my blog: ...more
Jan 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is a delightful and quirky play with a variety of myths and tropes. Primarily the Bluebeard myth; which is, as the Guardian review reminds us is “the usual – wooing, seduction, then – the discovery of a chopped-up predecessor". There is a fairy tale element running through; the main antagonist is writer St John Fox (Reynard the Fox runs through fairy tales going back for centuries).
The novel is set in the 1930s and St John Fox is a novelist whose novels usually end in the main female chara
Pippi Bluestocking
Jan 11, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gender-lit
I never liked crime fiction. I read from a variety of genres, I even read lots of trashy books too, but I think there isn't one who-dunnit I can like. There are a few reasons for this (one is that I usually figure out the culprit, but I'll shut up 'cause now I'm sounding like a git) but the most important one is that crime fiction trivialises human life in a way I cannot sympathise with. No one cares about the person who died or the people left behind; we only care about solving a puzzle, satisf ...more
Sentimental Surrealist
May 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Question for discussion: is Mr. Fox in fact a meta-romance novel, an attempt by Oyeyemi to make herself the Ursula K. Le Guin of that most beleagured of genres? Or is it in fact a meta-fairy tale with deep feminist implications that happens to use romance as the ground for its conflict, between a writer (Mr. Fox), his fictional muse (Mary Foxe), his concrete wife (Daphne Fox), and the author of Desperate Characters and several beloved children's novels (Paula Fox, who doesn't actually appear in ...more
Nandakishore Mridula
Statutory Warning: If you like your stories served up in the traditional way with a beginning, middle and end, and with characters behaving like rational human beings in conventional settings, then Helen Oyeyemi is definitely not for you.

Mr. St John Fox, the writer, has an unusual visitor one day - the beautiful Mary Foxe. What makes her unusual is that she exists only in his head.

Mary Foxe took birth in Mr. Fox's head in the trenches of The Great War (actually, World War I - but the novel is se
lark benobi
Oct 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
This novel proved to me the importance of sticking with a book longer than its first few pages. The metafictional whimsy of the first 50+ pages grated on me...and then all at once the book soared. Many times I feel that metafiction becomes cold and pointless, too self-aware for it to have greater purpose than to point back to the author's cleverness, so I tend to be on my guard when I begin a book that uses these elements. Oyeyemi's novel masterfully achieves what the best metafiction can do, th ...more
Feb 28, 2012 rated it it was ok
Book Description

Considering that I’m still not really sure exactly what was going on, writing this summary shall be a challenge. Let’s see … as best as I can tell, the story is about a writer (Mr. Fox) who is married to a woman named Daphne but is having an affair of sorts with his muse (Mary Foxe), who is slowly taking corporeal form in the real world. But when I tell you that this story is not told in a straightforward way, trust me on that

My Thoughts

The story of this love triangle is told in
Dec 21, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Mr. Fox by Helen Oyeyemi - the opening at least is very confusing but at the same time hilarious with lots of lovely prose. As I settled into it and recognized the flights of fantasy, I was less confused but still delighted by the fairy tale aspect and the general story-telling.

A favorite quote (there are too many to share a complete list!): "All around them people were speaking a language Brown didn't understand; it was like silence with sharp edges in it."

So many beautiful sentences, beautiful
I don't really know what happened here, but I enjoyed every bit of it. This is more of a short story collection with a linking narrative. I really loved some of the short stories. Not sure if this makes me want to read more from Oyeyemi, but I will enjoy rereading this! ...more
A dreamy, fairy tale-like novel about love, stories, and foxes. I love Helen Oyeyem's writing. It's like her words are as familiar as the fairy tales you heard as a kid while at the same time as fresh and unique as anything you've ever read.

Mr Fox is an author, married to a woman named Daphne and whose muse is an imaginary woman named Mary. Mary goes after Mr Fox for the needless women's deaths in his stories, by telling her own. She becomes real. She meets Daphne, who worries her husband has b
Katie Lumsden
Apr 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this. It's a strange and twisting story, but Oyeyemi's writing is clear and precise and the premise very interesting. There were a few stories that I thought didn't fit into the book as well as others, but the majority were great. ...more
"'I stood up and went to the window. When I got close to her she looked down at her watering can. "Mrs. Fox," I said. "You're a horror today." To which she replied, "Why don't you write a book about it?'"

This is the story of, well, Mr. Fox. And Mr.Fox has one major failing: he can't stop killing all his female characters. Of course, this is a failing many people (men, really) share with him, but most of them make it through life perfectly fine, never thinking this particular indulgence of theirs
Jan 10, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lost-audiobooks
1.5 stars - I didn't like it.

DNF'd at 40%. This is a very unusual and unconventional story, but unfortunately in this case, the strangeness hampered the novel rather than making it wonderfully unique. It is about a man that is having a mental affair with his fictional muse, which is having significant effects on his life in reality. There are also interspersed short stories of fiction the man and muse collaborate on, which are interwoven into the "real life" reality and fictional (mental b/t the
Abbie | ab_reads
This was only my second foray into the weird and wonderful mind of Oyeyemi, but I enjoyed it thoroughly! I know she polarises readers, but so far both White is For Witching and Mr Fox have been great reading experiences. Mr Fox isn't quite as dark as White is For Witching, although it does have a main character who can't seem to stop killing his fictional wives...
The premise is that an author St. John Fox's fictional muse comes to life, intent on making him change his murdering ways. None of hi
Jun 26, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: fans of Helen Oyeyemi and also everyone else
I don't know, I don't know, I don't knowwwww. The more deeply a book touches me, the less I know how to say anything about it. My reaction to this book is kind of like how I feel when I look at the moon; I'm full of all these senseless impulses, I want to eat it, I want to breathe it. It should be cool and bright in my mouth. Every word is luminous and strange and wonderful. I want everyone in the world to read it and love it like I do and talk about it so I can consume all their thoughts, too. ...more
Sep 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Richard by: Chris Barzak
Easy to read/hard to define/wonderful/full of wonder throughout. I've written a few fix-ups (sometimes called mosaic novels) in my time. It's a trick I love to play and at first I thought this was one: a dozen or two short stories written on a common theme and strung together.

But no, Mr. Fox is all original work and a far deeper riff, a series of variations on a theme of "Mr. Fox" the English folk tale that is itself a variation of the story the French call "Bluebeard" and the Germans "Fitcher'
Dec 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Just when I think there’s little new under the sun, along comes Helen Oyeyemi and shatters all my perceptions about how a story can be narrated. This young, brave, gifted Nigerian-born British writer is a modern day Scheherazade, weaving her tales in the form of a most unconventional love triangle: St. John Fox, a “serial killer” writer (the women in his books always die), a muse (or is she?) named Mary Foxe, and his wife Daphne.

The book is loosely based on the legend of Bluebeard – a feared and
May 27, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2013, slipstream
I don't know.

I love Helen Oyeyemi's voice, but I kinda feel like she was trying to do too much with this. I couldn't find the basic outline. I couldn't keep track of who represented what!

Mary, for instance, is said to be Mr. Fox's muse/creation...but I just couldn't see that. I don't think she quite works on that level. To me, the character works solely as a representation of the invalidated female voice: not a muse, not Mr. Fox's creation at all.--Or is that the whole point?--And Mrs. Fox
Book Riot Community
Oyeyemi’s books are always kind of strange but filled with interesting ideas, and this is no exception. The main character, a writer named Mr. Fox, has been writing stories in which the women always die. Mary Foxe, an imaginary woman he made up as a sort of guide and muse, is now challenging him to do better. The two begin to write stories to each other, and although Mr. Fox does not immediately change his ways, the stories get deeper and more complex as the two writers, one real and one not, co ...more
Aug 20, 2021 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Honestly disappointed. Read more like short stories, but felt like it was trying too hard to be too many creative experimental things at once.
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Helen Oyeyemi is a British novelist. She lives in Prague with an ever-increasing number of teapots, and has written nine books so far, none of which contain ‘magical realism’. (Can’t fiction sometimes get extra fictional without being called such names?!)

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