Fox 8: A Story by George Saunders

Kindle Single 99c

Hi! I crawled away from 2013 and 2014 without ever having read anything by George Saunders! Crazy, right? (I own Pastoralia, but it's sitting on my shelf until I work my way towards reading it. So, eventually!) So how did I stumble upon this short story? Sometimes Amazon knows me better than I know myself. I'm not sure what in my buying history tipped them off that I might like this, but much like the time it randomly started suggesting full-sized rubber mermaid tails, Amazon just gets me.
Fox 8 is marketed as an Amazon Single, which essentially means it's a short story Saunders chose to leave out of his collection books, and make a little spending money on the side with. It's written as letter by a fox who learns English, or "Yuman," by listening to bed time stories from outside a window. The spelling and grammar is atrocious, as expected from a fox with no formal education, and hilariously reminiscent of Pro Birds Rights, maybe a little LOL Cat. It might give some readers a headache, but I thought it was completely charming.
Fox 8, as our little "fox lee" friend is known among peers, lives in a den that is being torn apart when Yumans begin construction of a mall. We watch as the community of foxes starve and struggle against the change. Fox 8, the resident day-dreamer, has an idea to retrieve food for his friends from the mall's food court, but his plan ends badly - very badly. Basically, Fox 8 learns that "Yumans" aren't so "cul" afterall, and he goes on a journey that takes him to a new den.

I love short stories because they are so efficient. What I mean is, they can get so much done in so little time - introduce us to interesting characters and scenarios, and leave us without spoiling the magic. But short stories tend to be... really dark and edgy; Post-modern, or in my words "trying too hard." (Miranda July, take note.) But Fox 8 was such a friendly and happy short story! Very optimistic, even when it had a chance to be bitter, possibly slam it over our heads how much humans suck a couple of times. So Fox 8 learns to be less trusting, but it doesn't make him caustic. Life goes on, there's still good left in the world. I guess I shouldn't be so surprised since the story is ever so slightly childish - if you're one of those horrible people who think stories about animals should be left for children. If so, you might be a pompous ass. But if you have a heart, you should read this little story.

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