The Weekly Weird-off: Lady Into Fox vs. You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine

The Weekly Weird-off: Lady Into Fox vs. You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Welcome to the Weirdathon's Weekly Weird-off! Here your word gladiators will be fighting to the death (did I forget to mention that part?) to determine which weird book is the weirdest. Welcome our guests, Katie from Bookish Tendencies and Chris from Chrisbookarama

This debate features You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine by Alexandra Kleeman and Lady Into Fox by David Garnett. This is the first time I've read one of the books being debated (Kleeman's), but I'm only factoring in things Katie mentions in her argument. I will be as unbiased as humanly possible. Each contestant is allowed to rebut their opponent's answer before moving on to their answer. Ding ding ding, let the fight begin!

The Weekly Weird-off: Lady into Fox vs. You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine. Which book is weirder?

Katie - Bookish Tendencies    VS.       Chris - Chrisbookarama


Katie: I’m not even sure how to explain what this book is about, but here goes… A woman referred to as “A” lives with her roommate “B” and dates her BF “C.” They eat random food, watch weird television, shop at creepy Wally’s stores where the workers wear gigantic synthetic heads, refuse to help you find anything, and the merchandise moves around daily. A family across the street from A’s and B’s apartment suddenly up and leaves, while wearing white sheets over their head, and dads are disappearing only to later turn up disoriented. And that’s nothing compared to what’s happening on the inside of A’s apartment, as B slowly tries to become more and more like A, in a creepy-stalker kind of way.

Chris: On an ordinary winter day, a newly married couple go for a walk. In the distance, a huntsman’s horn sounds. Behind the man, his wife calls out. When he turns around he finds she has been turned into a fox. Just like that the lady is a fox. The author, David Garnett, says that the story is true. He claims wrote the story as it was told to him and even double checked his sources. There is no magic in this story. The fact is the lady was a woman one moment, and fox in physical form the next. The fox’s husband tries to keep their lives the same as before her transformation and it works… for awhile. Over time her foxy instincts take over. Her husband must make a choice: keep her locked up and unhappy, or let her go into the wilderness and possibly lose her forever. Lady Into Fox is a short novel written by a member of the Bloomsbury Group in 1922. In a time of experimentation, literary and social, the book challenges traditional ideas of marriage and sexuality within the structure of a folktale.


Katie - Answer: It would be easier to talk about what *ISN’T* strange about the plot, but I’m happy to make a list. 1) No one has any names, just letters. 2) At one point, one of the roomies steals the others’ make-up, smashes it all together and smears it all over herself, her roommates dresser, and all the rest of her belongings… and then promptly passes out in her roomie’s bed. Creepy. 3) Roomie A becomes OBSESSED with eating a pastry snack, which is literally made out of plastic. 4) Cult-y shenanigans involving white sheets, disappearances, and once again, weird roommates. 5) Stores where the workers wear huge fake heads, won’t help you find shit, and the merchandise moves around daily. All of this occurring, in a strange, dream-like, yet realistic world that only gets weirder…

Chris - Answer: Sounds like a bad roommate situation. But did anyone suddenly turn into an animal? In my book, a perfectly ordinary English lady turns into a fox. Her husband tries to pretend that everything is normal. They even sleep together. He dresses her in dresses, serves her tea, reads to her, and plays cards with her- while she’s a fox.


Katie - Rebuttal: First off, foxes are cute, so what’s the real problem? Secondly, it sounds like the husband is just a wee bit crazy, and I’m not sure what’s *all* that weird about that. (Just kidding, husbands are the best, and I hate “stupid husband” jokes!) Lastly, I’ll give you a point for the sleeping together, since there’s no way around that one… bestiality is weird.

Katie - Answer: There isn’t really anything all that strange or unique about the format. It’s a novel, with relatively short chapters which meander around a bit. The strangeness definitely comes into play more so in the characters, plot, and actual prose.

Chris - Answer: The format isn’t so strange as the author’s assertion that this is a true story and happened recently to real people. There are also pretty woodcut drawings of the events that happened that were done by the author’s first wife.


Katie - Rebuttal: So maybe the author has lost his bananas too, since he believes said story. I’m into it. Whatever works to get the words on the page, y'all...

Katie - Answer: Ummmm, yes, only all of them. I’d have to give the creep-tastic award to Roomie B for leeching out Roomie A’s life, bit by bit, slowly driving A to the edge of insanity, until A has… well, nothing much left. This includes practically starving A, only allowing popsicles and occasionally an orange in their shared apartment, cutting off her long hair and sprinkling it around A’s room because she thought just maybe A wanted to have it, and forcing A to buy her make-up and give her a make-over so she can look “just like A.” And so on, but I don’t want to give away too many spoilers! 

Chris - Rebuttal: Hmm, I don’t know it sounds like a lifetime movie plot. Maybe they are called A and B to protect the innocent in a “ripped from the headlines” kind of way! This is what happens when you find a roommate on the internet! Ha!

Chris - Answer: Besides the obvious Lady who turns into a literal fox, the husband is quite a character too. After he becomes frustrated with her “foxiness” he starts becoming wild himself. He grows a beard, lives in squalor, refuses to socialize with people. There’s also the Lady’s old nanny who tries to make the fox behave like a lady and gets angry with the husband when he lets her run wild.

Katie - Rebuttal: I’m sticking with my “the husband is losing it” story. Sounds like he wanted an excuse to exile himself from society, and get away with it! Although if the nanny is in on it… maybe she’s jonesing after the husband, and indulging his neuroses… maybe? Yes?


Katie: As part of a cult-y group bonding activity, members are forced to go on a reality TV game show for couples, in which one couple member must attempt to identify the other couple member in a pitch dark room, where everyone is naked; if successful, go winners (!), if unsuccessful, the couple must break up and place restraining orders against each other, never to speak again.

Chris: In a story about a marriage, someone cheats and it might not be who you think it is!


Katie: I mean, do I really need to say any more? This is merely the tip of the iceberg as far as weirdness is concerned. We’ve got plastic food, zany shopping experiences, cult-y goodness, reality TV, costumes galore, and stolen identities… I mean, all that up against one, tiny, cute fox… please.

Chris: Sure, that sounds weird, but these are upright Edwardian British people. The idea that one could turn into a wild animal and give into her animal instincts (and the bedroom stuff, come on!) is pretty shocking and weird. Remember the times! This is groundbreaking stuff! And it’s all presented in this matter of fact kind of way. I think Lady Into Fox has the weirderer factor here! 


How many more weeks am I going to be absolutely torn? Probably every week. I had made a decision about the winner, but in an effort to make sure I was being fair, I called in an anonymous judge who hasn't read either book. In regards to the winner's book, he said "it sounds like a weird nonsense world with dream rules where anything goes." And now, post-decision, I've got to say that it totally is. You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine is even more strange and disturbing than you could imagine. I'm super curious about Lady Into Fox; the time in which it was written and Chris' cryptic WTF sentence (what does it mean???) was what made it so close for me. But in fairness, we have to go for overall objective weirdness, and You Too brings so many strange elements into play. Katie wins the weird e-book bundle this round! Thank you both so much for playing!

Who would you declare winner in this battle of wits and words?


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