I have said before that I love both Martin Millar and Douglas Coupland quite a lot. Well, Matt Ruff’s Fool on the Hill is like if Martin Millar and Douglas Coupland had a love child, and Douglas Coupland raised the kid because Martin Millar lived too far away, but the kid grew up reading Martin Millar’s books obsessively, and then the kid went to Cornell for college. I feel like that sequence of events could have produced Fool on the Hill.
Fool on the Hill is a story about Cornell University (ever heard of it?), if Cornell University had fairies and sword-fighting rats. There are oodles of characters, and they are all amusing, and the different sets of characters eventually come together – much like in Lonely Werewolf Girl, so in case you are thinking that I’m only making the Martin Millar comparison because of the fairies I AM NOT. There’s Stephen George, a writer; his muse, Calliope, who comes and goes; the beautiful Aurora Borealis Smith and her revolutionary father; Luther and Blackjack, a dog and cat on a quest to find Heaven; Ragnarok and the Bohemians, with an unimpeachable sense of justice; a wicked fraternity that it took me an embarrassingly long time to realize didn’t actually exist; and Cornell fairies prepared to fight a war for Cornell against a foe they all thought to be dead.
I won this book from Nicki at Fyrefly’s Book Blog (thank you!), and she most brilliantly sent me along a map of Cornell to go with it, with relevant locations circled in aquamarine-colored pen. Possibly the reason I read it so gradually is that I was constantly putting the book down and inspecting the map to orient myself on the campus. That, and the fact that it was on my bedside table. For some reason I never fetch books from my bedside table and curl up with them downstairs to finish them. Once they are on my bedside table they are only going to get read for about twenty minutes each night before I fall asleep.
But that is not to say that I didn’t enjoy it, because I really did. I was making it last by reading it slowly. It’s such a lark that it’s fun to make it last: how there’s a “writer” called Mr. Sunshine inventing the whole story as they go, and that makes it possible for Matt Ruff to toss in little remarks about antiheroes and dei ex machinis (oo, useful Latin there). I loved Jinsei & Ragnarok – because Matt Ruff is right, you need a hero that’s not all sweetness and light sometimes – and the whole thing of Tolkien House and their Lothlorien. Fun. Read it! (But you can’t have my copy. I’m greedy and I’m keeping it.)
(Maybe the ending is a little rushed. But it is so much fun that I don’t mind.)
Link me if you reviewed it too!