Sunday, June 9, 2019

Book Review: Fox 8 (illustrated short novel) by George Saunders

This 49-page illustrated short novel packs a powerful punch.

I purchased my copy from Bolen Books

Illustrated by Chelsea Cardinal
Published by Random House,
an imprint and division of Penguin Random House
Published in 2018

On the surface Fox 8 is a cute story--I laughed out loud (I haven't laughed while reading in a long time)--about a fox who becomes enamored by the human culture and teaches himself how to talk and write human.

Dig deeper...

George Saunders has won many awards for his writing, including the Man Booker.  In the hands of this skilled author, Fox 8 is an allegory. Fox 8 is an entreaty from a member of a disenfranchised group.

'First may I say, sorry for any werds I spel rong. Because I am a Fox. So don't rite or spel perfect.' (p. 3)
I identify with these words. 

-I have dyslexia. Learning to read and spell was challenging. I still have challenges with language.

And yet, in many ways, I'm also a member of a privileged group--I'm a white North American. I have a roof over my head, food in my fridge, potable water runs out of my taps, there's money in my purse.

How can I be more compassionate, more understanding?

Night after night, Fox 8 sits outside under the window as a human mother tells her children bedtime stories. And night after night, he slowly learns the language. 

Once obtaining mastery, he attempts to use his new skills to help his pack adapt to the ever-encroaching human culture. But, after witnessing unexpected cruelty, he is forced to leave all he has known and begin a new. 

Wrapped in a charming package, Fox 8 compels us to take a cold hard look at ourselves--how do we treat those we consider "other"?


About George Saunders

Imagine learning how to write short stories from George Saunders at Syracuse University.

Next Sunday Evening on this blog...

How a writer sleeps (short story) 
Soundly? Do we toss and turn? Do we answer that phone? Or let it ring? Who wakes us up too early in the morning? Who do we rise for--no matter the hour?