Historical Fiction

Fool on the Hill – Part 4

It’s finally here, the finale of the Matt Ruff novel Fool on the Hill. We did it. With Preacher dead, George and Aurora Borealis Smith return to Cornell to attend the wake, where George is asked to read a story, since apparently he’s the only person who matters in the world even though he’s never shown to have even so much as spoken to Preacher. Luther, meanwhile, is traveling back on foot and having hallucinations about Dragon, who has escaped from a research facility and is murdering his way towards Blackjack to get revenge for some reason. Also meanwhile, sprites have started going missing (which no one seems to care about) and after he’s attacked, Hamlet pretends to be dead along with Puck, which they inexplicably think is a better idea than just telling the other sprites that Rasferret’s probably back.Jinsei and Ragnarock have reconciled as friends and are spending time together when they’re attacked by a semi-truck full of pigs being possessed by Rasferret who just really wants to kill Jinsei for some reason. Some fancy motorcycle work by Ragnarock allows them to escape, but not without some trauma. As the Ides of March approach, Mr. Sunshine decides to wreak havoc with a magical cloud of chaos inducing rain which leads to Jack Barron (remember him?) smashing up Ragnarock’s house and motorcycle with a sledge hammer which causes Ragnarock to go into a murderous rage that actually doesn’t lead anywhere for a while (we swear, we’re making this as clear as I can). First, though, the dogs on campus have to deal with purebred/mutt tensions caused by a mysterious murder of a dog on campus. Also, Aurora Borealis Smith bites into a magic apple left in a basket of rotting fruit at George’s house and is immediately Snow Whited into a deep sleep. Distraught, George is summoned to the Boneyard where Mr. Sunshine reveals himself as the “storyteller” orchestrating everything, and George seems pretty cool with it to be honest. With the Day of the Green Dragon Parade upon them can George defeat the dragon and save the princess? Will Dragon (the other one, the dog) kill Blackjack and Luther? Will Ragnarok ever get to fight Jack Barron? All that can be said for sure is that, while none of these story elements will meaningfully interact, at least we get the joy of the return of the Rubbermaid!

Fool on the Hill – Part 3

This week Sam continues his deep dive into the 1988 Matt Ruff novel Fool on the Hill. This part opens with the thing everyone is most excited about: Hallowe’en! But not everything goes smoothly as George and Aurora Borealis Smith get lost in the foggy, underground woods of Tolkien house and end up accidentally making-out since they apparently can’t tell each other apart from their respective actual romantic partners. After the party Jinsei and Preacher decide to date after Jinsei says she sees Ragnarock as just a friend. Due to a truly pathetic attempt at discretion, Ragnarock finds out immediately and is not happy. Meanwhile, Luther engages in dog philosophy that is mostly pun based, and thus Sam skips it almost entirely. Meanwhile, Calliope sets George up to outwit a crazed physics student with a supposed bomb, and after George defuses the situation with wind and a cowboy hat, Calliope vanishes leaving George bereft. Miserable, George goes out into the snow and almost freezes to death before being rescued by a premonition-having Aurora Borealis Smith. At the hospital, Aurora Borealis Smith confesses her love to George, and they head back to Wisconsin, with Luther, to enjoy the holiday. Meanwhile, the evil from the Boneyard has been released in the form of Rasferret the Grub, a gross creature that kills for no apparent reason. On New Year’s, Rasferret decides to try out killing again by animating the sex doll from Tolkien house and having it just wreck Preacher, killing him instantly. Jinsei, however, manages to escape with the capricious intervention of Mr. Sunshine. Still in Wisconsin, George and Aurora Borealis Smith enjoy their time, but the specter of Old Moses appears to Luther, telling him he must, again, set off on foot to Cornell for reasons that are not in the least bit apparent. Part three wraps up with the Ides of March looming closer, but if this summary makes no sense to you, don’t worry, it makes even less sense once fully explained.

Fool on the Hill – Part 2

This week Sam brings part two of the Matt Ruff novel Fool on the Hill! After a long part one of introducing characters, get ready for an even longer part two! A semblance of a plot starts to take shape as George and his Bohemian friends hang out with the Blue Zebra Hooter Patrol, a group that, as far as Sam can tell, is entirely unimportant to the story. Meanwhile, the sprites conduct a raid on the animal lab to free the guinea pigs among others. However, during this raid they accidentally release giant rats which manage to kill several sprites, lead by an evil rat named Thresh. I’m sure we’ll get back to him later. Much later. The dogs, meanwhile, are having convocation, and Luther learns of the five questions that guide their philosophy, one of which asks which is the best breed of dog. Luther is disturbed that maybe this isn’t heaven if there’s still racism (breedism?) here. Finally, due to a chemical truck accident and the appearance of Calliope in his house, George finally gets laid. This goes on for some time. While he’s busy, the Bohemians are invited to become honorary members of the dorkiest frat on campus: Tolkien House, which is exactly what it sounds like, only they live in an actual magic castle complete with bottomless pit and underground forest. One of the presidents of Tolkien house has invited the Bohemians to join so he can meet one of their members he has a crush on, instead of just talking to her like a normal human, a plan that does nothing to dispel their dorkiness. Later, Jinsei is attacked at a school dance by Jack Barron and his goons from the RAT frat, but is saved by Ragnarok riding his motorcycle out of the dance hall, which he apparently brought into the dance hall for a reason neither Sam nor Danielle can fathom. Finally, a bunch of characters have dreams, one of whom is George who fights a dragon while Calliope teaches him to “write without paper”. Here’s a list of other things that are in this chapter taken completely out of context: A child repellent egg, doggy brothel, really bad relationship decisions, and Danielle’s new favorite word Hallowe’en!

Fool on the Hill – Part 1

This week Sam starts an epic journey with Danielle with part one of the 1988 Matt Ruff novel Fool on the Hill. Meet Stephen Titus George, a 23 year-old massively successful author who’s now a writer in residence at Cornell University. George fuels his creativity with the frustration and pain of not being able to get laid for the past seven years. However, a mysterious Greek Original named Mr. Sunshine has been weaving a tale using reality for centuries, and George is his chosen hero of the story. Also, just to make things more complicated, there are invisible sprites that live on the Cornell campus, one of whom, Zephyr, is crushing on George, mostly to spite her unfaithful boyfriend Puck, which is the foundation of any healthy relationship. Zephyr decides to follow George after one of his kite flying jaunts as he heads to the local graveyard to take inspiration from the gravestones. Here, George visits one of his favorite spots, an eerie place with a strange stone set in the ground inscribed with PANDORA. Meanwhile, a cat named Blackjack is dragged along on a quest by his dog friend Luther, as Luther insists he can smell heaven and needs to go there to find his dead friend. It should be mentioned that animals in this world communicate telepathically and some can even see the future, but that won’t actually come into play in any way. Blackjack and Luther encounter a pack of racist purebred dogs in the the suburbs who try to kill them, but they escape as dog catchers start tranquilizing and murdering the evil dogs. Also meanwhile, a girl named Aurora Borealis Smith is heading back to Cornell from Wisconsin with her boyfriend who is kinda a square. Eventually they meet up with George, an old friend, and after they leave, a random man named Wax tells George to steal her from her boyfriend. Also also meanwhile, a mystical lady named Calliope is on her way from Delaware to break George’s heart so as to inspire him to greatness at the behest of Mr. Sunshine. Lastly, meanwhile, the Bohemians, the self-proclaimed guardians of non-conformity at Cornell, are riding horses on a pilgrimage back to the school. The horses were purchased by their wealthy leader Lion-Heart so all his friends could role play, and Sam really begins to question their counterculture credentials. Eventually, all these parties meet back up at Cornell University, including Blackjack and Luther who is convinced Cornell is, in fact, heaven. With this massive bit of character introduction done, Sam raps up this part just before the actual plot is about to begin, so tune in next time to hopefully find out just what the heck is going on.