Fool on the Hill

Fool on the Hill

4.9 11
by Matt Ruff
     
 

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It is a literary event when a genuinely new fictional voice comes along. When that voice achieves its newness not through a certain formal facility but through the freshness of its vision, there is truly something to celebrate. Matt Ruff was only twenty-two when Fool on the Hill was first published, but with his novel he gave us a story that won over readers of…  See more details below

Overview


It is a literary event when a genuinely new fictional voice comes along. When that voice achieves its newness not through a certain formal facility but through the freshness of its vision, there is truly something to celebrate. Matt Ruff was only twenty-two when Fool on the Hill was first published, but with his novel he gave us a story that won over readers of every persuasion. Not your usual first effort, Fool on the Hill is a full-blown epic of life and death, good and evil, magic and love.

Think of the imaginative daring of Mark Helprin’s Winter’s Tale. The zany popism of Tom Robbins’s Another Roadside Attraction. The gnomish fantasies of J.R. Tolkien. Think of these and you begin to get some idea of one of the most remarkable first novels to come along in years.

In the world of Fool on the Hill dogs and cats can talk, a subculture of sprites lives in the shadows and underfoot (if you’re the sensitive type, or drunk enough, you might see them cavorting across the lawn), and the Bohemians, a group of Harley- and horseback-riding students dedicated to all things unconventional, hold all-night revels for the glory of their cause.

Then there is Stephen Titus George, the novel’s youthful hero, who somehow finds himself the main player in a story that began well over a century ago. George is a mild-mannered flier of kites, a sometimes writer of bestselling fiction, and would-be knight looking for a maiden. George will find his girl and the century-old story will provide the proverbial dragon whose slaying will sanctify their love. But it will not be a sword that fells the foe but the transforming power of the imagination.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This exuberant first novel unfolds at Cornell University, the alma mater of its 22-year-old author, who has re-imagined his school as the center of a violent and funny modern-day fairy tale. Stephen Titus George is a young writer longing for true love and a great story to tell. With the mysterious appearance of Calliope, a sorceress who can transform herself into anyone's vision of female perfection, both of his dreams begin to come true. Ruff shapes an adventure for his protagonist that includes everything from poisoned apples to winged dragons, all set on a campus where there isn't a professor in sight and where the actions of dogs, cats and invisible sprites are as meaningful as those of the students. On its way to a certain happy ending, the story falls short of its own ambitionsit's vastly overpopulated with extraneous characters (human and otherwise), and packed with self-conscious, punning references to everyone from Beckett to A. A. Milne. Too many of Ruff's narrative devices exist only to spotlight the author's cleverness, but at its best, his debut brims iwth good humor and imagination. (October)
Library Journal
In this comic fantasy a young writer-in-residence at Cornell University searches for true love and combats the forces of evil. Ruff uses the stock motifs of fairy tale and myth, but his treatment is remarkably inventive. Inspired by the mysterious Calliope, Ruff's hero learns to write without paper and thus, by the force of his imagination, to revise the mundane scenario of life in Ithaca. Aptly named S.T. George, he vanquishes a green canvas dragon and thereby foils the malignant plot of Rasferret the Grub. The multi-layered plot also includes animals who communicate by telepathy and tiny sprites with Shakespearean names. Ruff's exuberant tale will appeal strongly to readers with a taste for the fabulous. Albert E. Wilhelm, Tennessee Technological Univ., Cookeville

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780802135353
Publisher:
Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
Publication date:
12/28/1997
Pages:
400
Sales rank:
610,260
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x (d)

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Fool on the Hill: A Novel 4.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
mgoodrich718 More than 1 year ago
Fool On The Hill By Matt Ruff 4 Stars cross posted to Share A Shelf Mr. Sunshine a retired god who is a storyteller has wrote the story of Cornell University from it's foundation. He's been sitting by watching as the story unfolds, checking in from time to time while taking a break from his other stories. The players are all there The Bohemians, who are saviors of the day in an unconventional way, the dogs who are fighting their own battles, the sprites who help out on the hill and the evil to beat all evil Rasferret The Grub. What's story without a Hero right? Enter Stephen Titus George, who is a storyteller of his own and liar extraordinaire. George is looking for love in all the wrong places he seems until he finds Calliope, sound familiar? Calliope sets many events in motion for Mr. Sunshine bringing lovers together and tearing others apart. Calliope leaves when her work is done to leave George with Aurora Borealis, are they meant to be? That is all up to Mr. Sunshine or is it? Can George writes the ending to this story? Someone has to save the day don't they? Will he get the girl, will evil be thwarted? Happily ever after or Greek tragedy, we'll have to what till the end of the story to find out. This book had everything packed into one heck of a story. Everyone loves reading about the fight between good and evil and this book is one very interesting way to do it. An amazing cast of characters from literally all walks of life. There is magic, harnessing of the wind, mans best friend and Tolkein. What more could you ask for. This was action packed and wonderful until the bitter end.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
i have a hard time sitting down and reading, i'm easily distracted. and i couldn't put this book down. from the very beginning all the way to the end this book is a fantastic read!
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Guest More than 1 year ago
I was introduced to this book many years ago by a local radio personality who read a chapter of Fool on the Hill on his late night radio show. Totally captivated by the selection, I ran out the next day and bought the book, reading the entire book cover to cover in 2 days. Anyone who appreciates a well written, witty, sometimes hilarious and sometimes touchingly somber story that invokes mythic stories as varied as Cinderella, Lord of the Rings, The Muppet Show, The Chucky horror flicks and Gaelic mythology will love this book. I have read it repeatedly over the years since then, whenever I wanted to relive the wonderful feeling of joy I experienced when reading of the Battle of the Cornell Kitchen 'truly an epic struggle between good and evil' or the chilling attack of the Rubbermaid on Christmas Eve in the stacks at the Cornell Library 'best read in a well lit room - trust me!'. A perfect book for a long flight, a beach vacation, or just a mental escape from the daily grind of everyday life.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Ruff creates a story so fantastic, yet somehow highly believable. The cast of characters is immense, yet Ruff is able to intertwine them all so flawlessly that Charles Dickens himself couldn't have done better. Not to mention this motley crew includes Bohemians on horseback, members of a Lord of the Rings geek fraternity, magical sprites, evil frat boys, and talking animals. Set at my Alma mater, Cornell University, the plot is both highly complex and easy to follow at once. Ruff fills his novel with messages about love and social commentary, while also creating an awesome fantasy novel. Although I have yet to see a dragon or sprite on campus, I would not be surprised to stumble upon the secluded Tolkien house or a perhaps a canine studies calss or two... A seamless blend of reality and fantasy, and truly a fantastic novel. Buy this one and read it.