Fox 8: A Story (Hardcover)

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Fox 8: A Story Cover Image
By George Saunders, Chelsea Cardinal (Illustrator)
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Staff Reviews

From the L.A. Times:


George Saunders’ new short story “Fox 8” offers an unexpected twist on the author’s darkly comic sensibility. Narrated by a fox who has learned human language (the Fox 8 of the title), it’s a taut little tale of development and displacement in which the narrator and other members of his skulk are driven away from their habitat by the construction of a new shopping mall.

What sets “Fox 8” apart are two things — first, Saunders’ choice to write it in a highly idiosyncratic dialect full of phonetic misspellings (“First may I say,” he begins, “sorry for any werds I spel rong. Because I am a fox! So don’t rite or spel perfect. But here is how I learned to rite and spel as gud as I do!”). And second, the decision to publish it as an e-book original, the author’s first. (Update: Please note that the book is now available as a hardcover for $17.00 as of 11/13/18)

Initially, Saunders told New York magazine last week, the story was meant for his collection “Tenth of December,” published earlier this year.  “[But] every time I got to this one,” he explained, “it was asking one stretch too many from the reader. So I took it out, and then my editor said to me, ‘Would you like to revisit that story as a stand-alone release?’ I didn’t even know you could do that.”

Saunders has a point: “Fox 8” is a bit of an outlier, even for him. Structured as a letter to the reader (or “Reeder”), it starts as an account of resourcefulness and curiosity — the fox learns language by listening through an open window to a human mother reading bedtime stories to her children — before becoming something considerably more pointed and bleak.

Foxes, the narrator insists, are forthright and straightforward, not the sly tricksters of our childhood fairy tales.

“What I herd was a Story,” he tells us, deconstructing one such narrative, “but a fawlse and even meen one. In that story was a Fox. But guess what the Fox was? Sly! Yes, true lee! He trikked a Chiken. He lerd this plump Chiken away from its henhowse, claiming there is some feed in a stump. We do not trik Chikens! We are very open and honest with Chikens! With Chikens, we have a Super Fare Deel, which is: they make the egs, we take the egs, they make more egs. And sometimes may even eat a live Chiken, shud that Chiken consent to be eaten by us, threw faling to run away upon are approache, after she has been looking for feed in a stump.”

There it is, Saunders’ deft use of irony, his ability to sketch a complex world through the words and actions of his characters, who often don’t see the contradictions they present. But there’s an honesty at work here also, which kicks in further once Fox 8 must interact directly with the human world.

Humans, he discovers, are duplicitous, nasty, violent. They are selfish and greedy, concerned with nothing but with themselves. This becomes the focus of the story, with Fox 8 wondering, “Why did the Curator do it so wrong, making the groop with the greatest skils the meenest?”

— Alex Ness


From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Lincoln in the Bardo, a darkly comic short story about the unintended consequences unleashed by our quest to tame the natural world—featuring gorgeous black-and-white illustrations by Chelsea Cardinal.

Fox 8 has always been known as the daydreamer in his pack, the one his fellow foxes regard with a knowing snort and a roll of the eyes. That is, until he develops a unique skill: He teaches himself to speak “Yuman” by hiding in the bushes outside a house and listening to children’s bedtime stories. The power of language fuels his abundant curiosity about people—even after “danjer” arrives in the form of a new shopping mall that cuts off his food supply, sending Fox 8 on a harrowing quest to help save his pack.

Told with his distinctive blend of humor and pathos, Fox 8 showcases the extraordinary imaginative talents of George Saunders, whom The New York Times called “the writer for our time.”

About the Author

George Saunders is the author of nine books, including the novel Lincoln in the Bardo, which won the Man Booker Prize, and the story collections CivilWarLand, Pastoralia, and Tenth of December, the latter a finalist for the National Book Award. He has received fellowships from the Lannan Foundation, the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the Guggenheim Foundation. In 2006 he was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship. In 2013 he was awarded the PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in Short Fiction and was included in Time’s list of the one hundred most influential people in the world. He teaches in the creative writing program at Syracuse University.

Praise For…

Praise for George Saunders

“No one writes more powerfully than George Saunders about the lost, the unlucky, the disenfranchised.”—Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

“A true original—restlessly inventive, yet deeply humane.”—Jennifer Egan

“There is no one more essential to our national sense of self and sanity.”—Dave Eggers

“Not since Twain has America produced a satirist this funny.”—Zadie Smith

“The best short-story writer in English.”—Mary Karr

“Saunders makes you feel as though you are reading fiction for the first time.”—Khaled Hosseini

Product Details
ISBN: 9781984818027
ISBN-10: 1984818023
Publisher: Random House
Publication Date: November 13th, 2018
Pages: 64
Language: English


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