Monday, June 6, 2011

The Fox Woman by Kij Johnson

I don't even know how to properly write about this book. One of my favorite books of the year? Yes. One of my favorite books of all time? I'm thinking so. I don't think I've ever read a book that was more lyrical, more poignant, more beautifully written than this book. And it still manages to retain it's readability. So often I get lost with books that are wordy...but this book isn't exactly wordy, it's more that it reads like a giant piece of poetry. It shows what the English language is capable of and I can't believe that I waited this long to read it..or any Kij Johnson for that matter. I think she gets the prize for being the first person to make it to my favorite authors list with just one book. The story centers around Kaya No Yoshifuji, his wife, Shikujo and a fox named Kitsune. The story goes back and forth between entries in Yoshifuji's notebook, Shikujo's pillow book and Kitsune's diary. It tells the story of love, deceit, mysticism, magic and fidelity all through interweaving viewpoints of the same scenario. Yoshifuji has moved himself and his wife to the countryside of Japan after a work related upset. Their marriage is strained to begin with because Shikujo misses the city. But it becomes more strained when Yoshifuji becomes obsessed with the foxes on their property...foxes that Shikujo comes to despise because of the attention they earn from her husband. We learn that the foxes, particularly Kitsune, have become obsessed with Yoshifuji too. And that she'll do anything to become human and bring Yoshifuji under the spell of love with her. A spell that would spell disaster for Yoshifuji and Shikujo's marriage. What follows is something so unique, yet based on Japanese folklore. Something that Johnson has made completely her own. And while Kitsune puts Yoshifuji under her spell, us as the reader fall under the same spell. The book is filled with short haikus written between the characters and all of the poetry is so beautiful. But it doesn't stop at just the poetry. I was amazed that Johnson kept up this gorgeous use of the English language throughout the book's 382 pages. Such a true gift, she has. This book is a delight...a gift to all readers. It's rare that you get to see a story so beautifully told. That doesn't just have a good plot, but the words themselves are a delight to read. I don't know that "delight" is the word I should be using. There's a lot of hurt, a lot of betrayal, a lot of sadness in it's words too. But ultimately it's a thing of beauty that talks about all the forms of love. Between man and woman, between parents and their children, between humans and nature, between humans and the allure of magic. Definitely one for the keeper shelves. Also, I wanted to apologize for being so distant from the blogging world lately. I've been sort of stuck in a rut, but I'm getting out of it. I hope. So I'm going to do like Ana sometimes does, because I like the idea. If there's anything I've missed in the last couple of weeks, please let me know in the comments!!! It's not that I haven't wanted to read your blogs...quite the opposite actually. It's just that life has So please update me!!! Leave me links to things I've missed if you don't mind. Love you all and miss you all!

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