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Mr. Splitfoot by Samantha Hunt
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Mr. Splitfoot

by Samantha Hunt

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3631842,448 (3.66)26
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Showing 1-5 of 18 (next | show all)
This book was highly recommended so I had great expectations. But for some reason it didn't feel so good. The story is interesting. A little bit unexpected and have characters that in general I don't see in books. It also makes me think in the kids in foster care. Nevertheless the writing style didn't make me to read non stop. ( )
  CaroPi | Aug 9, 2018 |

What does it mean to like a book? Does it mean you find it compelling and want to keep reading it when you put it down? Does it mean you think it's well-written? Does it mean that you connect with the characters and care about what happens to them? Does it mean you don't want it to end? Does it mean you want to read it again? Or is it just something ineffable, unquantifiable, that marks the dividing line between "liked it" and "didn't like it"? I can't remember a book before Mr. Splitfoot that has so challenged me to think about what I mean when I say that I "like" a book. I'm still not sure, months after it's been filed away as "read" on Goodreads, whether or not I liked it (I write the first draft of my review very quickly after finishing a book, but I do come back to make revisions a few times before anything officially goes up). That rating? Not a result of any sort of thought process besides that a six seemed too low, and an eight too high.

Mr. Splitfoot is structured as dual narratives that come together at the end. The first, earlier-in-time part of the story follows Ruth and Nat, two of many abandoned children at a state-funded, religiously-motivated facility in upstate New York that cares for them, sort of, until they turn 18. Ruth's older sister Elinor has aged out, so she and Nat declare themselves sisters and bond to each other as their chosen family. As children, they start playing at summoning ghosts with the other kids, and once they reach their late teens, a traveling con man named Mr. Bell takes them and their act on the road. The second, later-in-time part of the story focuses on Cora, Ruth's niece, in the present day. At 25, she's living with her mother, working a dead-end job at an insurance company, and has just been knocked up by older man named Lord who's still married to the wife that was institutionalized after she tried to kill him. Cora only met Ruth (and Nat) once, but that one visit stuck with the then-teenage Cora for life. When Ruth suddenly reappears, after Cora's revelation of her pregnancy to Lord doesn't go well, Cora is just about over everything in her life enough to follow the now-mute Ruth on a journey. Where they're going, and why, and how Ruth came to be mute, are revealed only gradually over the course of the stories as they move forward.

I think, ultimately, that I liked Mr. Splitfoot. I LOVED the language. I highlighted what feels like a quarter of the book in my Kindle and agonized for quite a while over which quote to publish as a part of this post. I've put more Samantha Hunt in my Amazon wishlist, because her way with words is incredible. It reminded me of how Jeffrey Eugenides writes, and Eugenides is one of my all-time favorite authors. And I found the book compelling, both because of its powerful language and because I wanted to see how the mysteries presented by the story were going to be wrapped up. And when they do wrap up, at the end, it makes for a big and satisfying emotional punch. But I thought it moved too slowly, with not enough revelations along the way...instead of whetting my appetite for more, I just kept getting frustrated by not knowing what was going on or where it was headed. And characterization, which is big for me in my enjoyment of a book, was thin. It was hard to understand what motivated the characters to act the way they did. Was it worth reading? Yes, for the wordsmithing alone. But did I enjoy the experience of reading it? Only sort of and sometimes. I did appreciate it by the end, and it stuck with me for a long time. ( )
  500books | May 22, 2018 |
I like weird novels with weird stories that could literally take you anywhere. That's what I felt about this novel, when I first read its premise. It was just so out-of-the-box and unexpected that I was excited to give it a shot. Well, here is my review!

When you are a ward of the state, there aren't many options you have in terms of places to live. Ruth and Nat are orphans that live together with a group of other children in a home run by a religious fanatic. With nothing else to do with their time, Ruth and Nat channel the dead for those who ask for it. Decades later, Ruth's niece, Cora, is struggling to find her place in the world, especially now that she is pregnant. Suddenly Aunt Ruth appears and makes it clear that she wants Cora to follow her, all while remaining mute. As Cora and Ruth walk across the entire state of New York, Cora begins to wonder what exactly Ruth's mysterious mission is and what her role is in all of this.

Even though it has been a couple of days since I have read this book, I'm still confused on my feelings about it. That isn't to say that this book isn't good. It's very very good. It's well-written and has an interesting slew of characters. The story jumps back and forth between the time that Ruth and Nat were at the group home to the present time when Cora and Ruth are on their mysterious adventure. Throughout the novel, I kept wondering what it was that was bringing these two events closer and closer together. All the while, I was fascinated by both of these two storylines as separate entities. I will confess, I preferred the story line concerned with Ruth and Nat more than the one with Cora and Ruth, but both very so intriguing. One thing is for sure: at the end of the novel, you yourself will be questioning whether there was any truth to it at all. Overall, this was a bizarre and interesting read, and if you are looking for something that will be completely unexpected, then check this novel out! ( )
  veeshee | Jan 29, 2018 |
Ruth and Nat are living in a home, having been abandoned by their respective parents. The home is taken care of by a minister and the home is called Love of Christ! Ruth and Nat are so like siblings, even sharing a bedroom.
They are both 17 and want to escape the realm that they live in. They wander off the property and meet a man named Mr. Bell. Mr. Bell sees that Nat knows how to work a good con, by acting as if he can talk to the dead. The three then create a group that works people with the dead.

In the meantime, we are journeying with Cora, who is being lead around New York, near the Erie Canal, by a woman named Ruth. This is taking place about 14 years later than the story of Nat & Ruth.

The two different stories take place every other chapter. They meld somewhat and you can feel the stories coming together.

This was really well written and really makes you think. I will definitely pick up more of Samantha Hunt's works from here. ( )
  JReynolds1959 | Jan 24, 2018 |
Strange, the intermingled lives of lost souls crashing together at odd angles and the waves that are created as a result. Across the boundaries of death and life, space and time, Niagara Falls to Troy this split plot joins the past to the present in order to prepare for the future. Magic spins, creating the forces that pull the ordinary into extraordinary circumstances. ( )
  lissabeth21 | Oct 3, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 18 (next | show all)
*** 3 out 5 Stars
Review by: Mark Palm
Twisted Ghosts...

I was a teenager when I first “discovered” South American Magic Realism. Now Magic Realism has been with us for a long, long time, from Laurence Sterne to Franz Kafka, but the South Americans were trending, and I read Jorge Luis Borges, Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Julio Cortazar, etc, but The Green House by Mario Vargas Llosa was the one that warped my mind the most. It was so trippy that I had to resort to a notebook to keep it all straight, and even then most of the time I was reading it I felt like I had a serious fever.

All of which brings me to Mr. Splitfoot by Samantha Hunt, which is probably the most hallucinatory book I have read since then. It’s a shame that I read this as an arc, because I can’t quote from it, and Ms. Hunt is a superb line-by-line writer, and her prose absolutely sings. Like The Green House however, I can’t quite grasp exactly what happened.

Ruth grows up in the Love of Christ! foster home run by an abusive religious fanatic who mistreats his charges. After her older sister Eleanor ages out of foster care Ruth teams up with a boy named Nat, who can channel the dead. As teens the two meet Mr. Bell, who is a con artist. Ruth marries him, but they are stalked by Zeke, a dangerous psycho who wants Ruth for himself.

This narrative is entwined with one fourteen years later, with Ruth’s niece, Cora, who is pregnant and unmarried and generally bored with her life. Ruth shows up, and silently convinces Cora to follow her. The two spend the next several months walking around New York state, even as Cora’s pregnancy makes it harder and more dangerous for her. Of course Cora has a Destiny, but by the time it came around I was pretty perplexed. There are cults and religious fanatics and raving lunatics, and I was just waiting for someone that felt like they were from this planet.

Now as I said, Ms. Hunt is a wonderful writer of prose, but the biggest problem I had with this book was the characters. Almost everyone felt like they had dropped in from another plane of existence, and while there is nothing wrong with weirdness, I felt that the weirdness was sometimes forced. It didn’t help that almost no one was sympathetic either. I feel that this was purposeful, and I don’t believe that characters need to be likeable; but the level of inexplicability was a bit to high for me.

The dream-like quality of the storylines was effective, and there was a palpable sense of ghostly menace that provided a great deal of suspense, and there was never a page that was boring or dull, but I felt that a few moments of normalcy may have better served to illustrate the strange and sometimes miraculous elements of this book. One thing is for sure; Ms Hunt doesn't play it safe. While she didn’t quite nail it Mr. Splitfoot is certainly a powerful book, by a writer who seems to be just bursting with talent.

Full reviews available at: http://www.thebookendfamily.weebly.co...
 
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Once again there are more dead things than ever before. --Martha Zweig
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Far from here, there's a church.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0544526708, Hardcover)

A contemporary gothic from an author in the company of Kelly Link and Aimee Bender, Mr. Splitfoot tracks two women in two times as they march toward a mysterious reckoning.

Ruth and Nat are orphans, packed into a house full of abandoned children run by a religious fanatic. To entertain their siblings, they channel the dead. Decades later, Ruth’s niece, Cora, finds herself accidentally pregnant. After years of absence, Aunt Ruth appears, mute and full of intention. She is on a mysterious mission, leading Cora on an odyssey across the entire state of New York on foot. Where is Ruth taking them? Where has she been? And who — or what — has she hidden in the woods at the end of the road? 
  
In an ingeniously structured dual narrative, two separate timelines move toward the same point of crisis. Their merging will upend and reinvent the whole. A subversive ghost story that is carefully plotted and elegantly constructed, Mr. Splitfoot will set your heart racing and your brain churning. Mysteries abound, criminals roam free, utopian communities show their age, the mundane world intrudes on the supernatural and vice versa. 
  
Making good on the extraordinary acclaim for her previous books, Samantha Hunt continues to be “dazzling” (Vanity Fair) and to deliver fiction that is “daring and delicious” (Chicago Tribune).

(retrieved from Amazon Tue, 14 Jul 2015 18:42:02 -0400)

"A contemporary gothic from an author in the company of Kelly Link and Aimee Bender, Mr. Splitfoot tracks two women in two times as they march toward a mysterious reckoning. Ruth and Nat are orphans, packed into a house full of abandoned children run by a religious fanatic. To entertain their siblings, they channel the dead. Decades later, Ruth's niece, Cora, finds herself accidentally pregnant. After years of absence, Aunt Ruth appears, mute and full of intention. She is on a mysterious mission, leading Cora on an odyssey across the entire state of New York on foot. Where is Ruth taking them? Where has she been? And who -- or what -- has she hidden in the woods at the end of the road? In an ingeniously structured dual narrative, two separate timelines move toward the same point of crisis. Their merging will upend and reinvent the whole. A subversive ghost story that is carefully plotted and elegantly constructed, Mr. Splitfoot will set your heart racing and your brain churning. Mysteries abound, criminals roam free, utopian communities show their age, the mundane world intrudes on the supernatural and vice versa. Making good on the extraordinary acclaim for her previous books, Samantha Hunt continues to be "dazzling" (Vanity Fair) and to deliver fiction that is "daring and delicious" (Chicago Tribune)"--… (more)

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