The hero of this story is S.T. George, a young writer-in-residence at Cornell University, who is looking for love and dragons to slay. But until he finds himself the main player in a story that began well over a century ago, he feels only a loneliness that drives him to kite-flying on campus and solitary breakfasts at McDonald’s. In fact, momentous forces and a cast of extraordinary characters are gathering around George: the Rat Frat led by Chief Rat, Jack Baron; the Bohemians, a group of Harley- and horseback-riding students; a dog named Luther and his cat friend Blackjack; and two intriguing women…
With his first book Matt Ruff achieved something that for quite a few fantasy literature fans, right now at the beginning of the 21st century, seems to be the only way to save that particular genre – actually, the only way (Tad Williams managed to squeeze in a lot of SciFi with his Otherland but it still fits. Interesting.) No more sword & sorcery, no amazons in less than clothing and huge swords, no more Conan movies (with or without Arnie) and no Shannara, part 38.
To me the future of fantasy is in cross-over (I wrote this in 2005 before the vampire craze ). Good story-tellers like George R.R. Martin and Tad Williams may be the exception – and Matt Ruff has proven them right. His story is a mixture of a fantasy novels with elves and evil gnomes, a kind of road movie or Woodstock hommage to good ol’ rock’n'rollers or knights in shining armour, set as a campus novel with a cat and a dog searching for heaven. Oh – and something like a Greek god, called Mr. Sunshine, is writing the story of a story-teller trying to break free from his own stories.
It does sound strange, doesn’t it? That’s what I thought. When a friend of mine gave the book to me in 1995 as a birthday present I thought to myself, damn. Am I so boring that they are giving me that kind of fantasy crap? For years it sat, untouched, on a shelf and survived moving house a couple of times. Only in 2004 I finally put my hands to it and was really, pleasantly surprised. Ruff manages to have four storylines interact, on a level of equal importance and fascination, and really brings the atmosphere home of a strange but pretty alluring world of difference. Having said that, the author doubts the quality of his first novel but was still pleased to hear I liked it. He wrote an email to on February, 16, 2005 saying: Marcel, Glad you liked it. All best, Matt Ruff. )
Because it was my first published novel, I can’t help being critical of Fool on the Hill-when I wrote it I thought it was perfect, and now I know it was just the best my 20-year-old self could do, and this bugs me
author Ruff, Matt
publisher Warner Books
edition 1st ed. 1988, mine should be from summer 1990
original title Fool on the Hill
Amazon.com offers – US & Canada