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Fox 8

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A darkly comic short story, a fable about the all too real impact that we humans have on the environment

Fox 8 has always been known as the daydreamer in his pack, the one his fellow foxes regarded with a knowing snort and a roll of the eyes. That is, until Fox 8 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.

21 pages, ebook

First published January 1, 2013

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About the author

George Saunders

105 books8,571 followers
George Saunders was born December 2, 1958 and raised on the south side of Chicago. In 1981 he received a B.S. in Geophysical Engineering from Colorado School of Mines in Golden, Colorado. He worked at Radian International, an environmental engineering firm in Rochester, NY as a technical writer and geophysical engineer from 1989 to 1996. He has also worked in Sumatra on an oil exploration geophysics crew, as a doorman in Beverly Hills, a roofer in Chicago, a convenience store clerk, a guitarist in a Texas country-and-western band, and a knuckle-puller in a West Texas slaughterhouse.

After reading in People magazine about the Master's program at Syracuse University, he applied. Mr. Saunders received an MA with an emphasis in creative writing in 1988. His thesis advisor was Doug Unger.

He has been an Assistant Professor, Syracuse University Creative Writing Program since 1997. He has also been a Visiting Writer at Vermont Studio Center, University of Georgia MayMester Program, University of Denver, University of Texas at Austin, St. Petersburg Literary Seminar (St. Petersburg, Russia, Summer 2000), Brown University, Dickinson College, Hobart & William Smith Colleges.

He conducted a Guest Workshop at the Eastman School of Music, Fall 1995, and was an Adjunct Professor at Saint John Fisher College, Rochester, New York, 1990-1995; and Adjunct Professor at Siena College, Loudonville, New York in Fall 1989.

He is married and has two children.

His favorite charity is a project to educate Tibetan refugee children in Nepal. Information on this can be found at http://www.tibetan-buddhist.org/index...

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 2,150 reviews
Profile Image for Maggie Stiefvater.
Author 65 books167k followers
July 4, 2019
This little thing is but a mouthful of fiction, but what a lot of flavors in that mouthful — funny, sweet, sad, and hopeful. I'm asking the same questions you are, Fox 8 ...
Profile Image for Justin Tate.
Author 7 books890 followers
December 4, 2018
OMG! It's rare for me to literally laugh out loud, but this short story had me cracking up every page--actually more like every paragraph. George Saunders' wicked way with words is never more exemplified than here, in the point of view of a fox. His glorious misspellings and hilarious societal observations are just perfect throughout. Despite being a 30-45 minute read, this one will endure with me forever.

Side note: I'm an audio lover, but you have to read this one to get the jokes. After reading I listened to a sample of the audio version just out of curiosity and it killed the experience. The misspellings and tone of the text can only be appreciated by seeing the words on the page (or Kindle).
Profile Image for Lisa.
974 reviews3,328 followers
April 3, 2019
Imagine a fox with such daydreaming power that he falls in love with human storytelling and learns to speak and write "human" by listening to stories read at bedtime, hiding behind a window.

Imagine him setting out on an adventure that goes entirely wrong because he has based his idea of humanity on that wonderful skill of ours to tell stories, and not on real experience of our random cruelty.

What would make the heartbroken fox heal? Understanding, answers. So he sets out to write a letter, and what a letter it is, spelling out the confusion quite literally:

"Reeding my Story bak rite now, I woslike: O no, my Story is a bumer. There is the deth of a gud pal, and no plase of up lift, or lerning a leson. The nise Fox's first Groop stays lost, his frend stays
If you Yumans wud take one bit of advise from a meer Fox? By now I know you Yumans like your Storys to end hapy?
If you want your Storys to end hapy, try being niser."

Fox 8 is rite, I think! It's worth a try!
Profile Image for Melki.
5,672 reviews2,324 followers
April 11, 2019
Fox 8 has learned to speak "Yuman" by sitting outside a house at night while a lady reads to her pups.


Though sometimes he takes umbrage at what she reads, particularly that one story about a sly fox that tricked a chicken . . .

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.
Not Sly at all.
Very strate forword.

But now, the foxes are starving, and Fox 8 must attempt a daring mission to the Fud Cort at the new Mawl.
Surely the Yumans will help a fox who shares so much in common with them . . . won't they?

I LOVED this book! I laughed, long and loud, I almost cried, then got angry, and wanted to punch some people, but decided to hug the book instead. Fox 8 is one of a kind. I love his take on the carousel:

Why wud Old Yumans enjoy putting Yung Yumans on Fake Horses?

And, then there's this . . .


Once, long ago, at that Story window, I daydreemed those Yumans invited me in and let me hold there Baby. And that Baby luvved me so much, we soon jerneyed to Collage together, whering are little Collage hats! It was grate!

I am hope full that someday Yumans will be all that Fox 8 daydreemed we'd be.
Profile Image for Sadie Hartmann.
Author 23 books3,918 followers
November 5, 2018
"Yumans wud walk by and go: Hey, look, Foxes. And drop a bit of fud at us. Soon we had karmel korn, sevral parshul biskits, plus a pare so fresh it did not even stink.
I woslike: This must be Fud Cort
Fox 7 woslike: I gess."

It seems as though George Saunders knows exactly what Sadie Hartmann loves to DEATH. I love anthropomorphic stories like WATERSHIP DOWN with the rabbit colony or Disney's Robin Hood with the cute foxes. There's something so endearing about giving animals a human voice.
Or a "Yuman" voice, in the case of FOX 8
In the world George Saunders creates here, Foxes are named in numbers "Fox 8, Fox 21, Fox 48" and the specific Fox writing this story, YES WRITING this story has a particular fascination with Yumans.
He spies on a mother in her children's bedroom telling her "pups" stories and then "touching her snout" to her kid's faces and suddenly, Fox 8 falls in love.
But things don't always go so well.
As these types of stories go, the author reminds us that human beings are not always mindful of the animal kingdom and we neglect our responsibility to respect our furry friends of the wild.
Fox 8 learns some hard lessons about humans and through his sweet, pure voice we get to see ourselves as he sees us.
There are some major laugh out loud moments here. I love the way the Foxes talk to one another and to other animals. The exchange Fox 8 has with a dog in car parked in a lot is hilarious!
I also found the odd grammar and spellings totally entertaining and experimental. It's weird to see recognizable words and just read them as fast and easy as one would when they're spelled correctly. I was TOTAL LEE entertained.
The illustrations were a delight.
The ending had me in tears. How sweet this little book is and what an important message without being overly so. I recommend this for all ages. And I'll be passing this along to my sister so she can read it to my nieces.

Profile Image for Malia.
Author 6 books547 followers
August 25, 2019
Fox 8 started out with me chuckling aloud, and ended with me near tears. That’s a lot of emotion for a book just short of 50 pages. It’s unusual, original and very relevant. I’m not sure how to describe any better than the synopsis above does, but I will say it’s well worth reading and I don’t think I’ll be forgetting it anytime soon.

Find more reviews and bookish fun at http://www.princessandpen.com
Profile Image for Mevsim Yenice.
Author 4 books966 followers
March 21, 2021
Tilki 8’den bize mektup var:
“Siz insanlar, basit bir tilkiden bir tavsiye alır mısınız? Siz her zaman, hikayeler mutlu sonla bitsin istiyorsunuz, biliyorum.

Hikayenin sonu mutlu olsun istiyorsanız, daha iyi insanlar olmaya çalışmalısınız.

Yanıtınızı bekliyorum.

Tilki 8”

Bu kitabı birkaç kişi okumam için önermişti. İnsanların kafasında Tilki ile özdeşleştiğim için sanırım :) Çok teşekkürler önerenlere, keyifle ve hüzünle okudum. Saunders’tan çocuk hikayesi okumak da ayrı bi tat verdi :) Hikayede tilkilerin isimleri şöyleydi: Tilki Hep Şikayet/ Tilki İyi Kalpli gibi, sözcükler tilkilerin dikkat çekici tarafını anlatıyor, acaba ben Tilki kim olurdum diye düşündüm, etrafımdakilere ona göre tilki ismi koydum. Benim için güzel bir oyun oldu :)
Profile Image for Emily Coffee and Commentary.
329 reviews93 followers
January 24, 2023
Precious, heartbreaking, and devilishly witty, this short story is a masterful warning to humans on their dismissal of nature’s wellbeing. Through the hilariously charming Fox 8, we see the painful duality of man, their incredible innovations, but unfortunately at the cost of ecosystems and empathy. Though a grim story at its core, Fox 8 also manages to be incredibly hopeful, using found family and perseverance to await new beginnings. An incredibly effective story that is filled with heart, not easily forgotten.
Profile Image for Caroline .
411 reviews559 followers
December 14, 2021

Fox 8 the fox regularly sits under the open window of a house listening carefully to the inhabitants’ conversations and examining their books as they read. In this way, he learns “Yuman” language. This experimental short story by George Saunders is Fox 8’s account of how he uses this knowledge to search for food for himself and his fox friends when their situation is dire.

This is a weird book. It’s written entirely in Fox 8’s mostly phonetic English and tells a simple but amusing story from his perspective. At one point, he enters a newly constructed “mawl” called “FoxView Commons.” His observations here are funny as they highlight how perplexing and artificial the human world is:
We saw a group of Yung Yumans, waring brite close and dansing fast, and some Old Yumans we think are there mothers, hopping about kwite eksited, yeling advise, such as, Pik it up, Kristal! Or Smile, Kara, why look so sad wile dansing, babe? We saw a round thing which had Fake Horses upon it, on which they are enslaved and made to go circular, as Yung Yumans enjoy it by being plased on bak of them.
The mall pet store features “captured Kats”; the “ground is like glas. Or ise”; and there’s “a small River that, tho flowing, did not smell rite.” Fox 8 finds humans “cul” and is awe-struck by their mall while bemoaning the fact that all that foxes can build are dens. Later, however, he witnesses a sad incident that leaves him confused and disappointed in humans–and also disappointed that he feels such disappointment.

Stories of non-human creatures trying to understand the human world have been done before, yet Fox 8 feels fresh, not least because of its lovable fox narrator who explores a new world with determined, and optimistic, energy. The fox perspective could be gimmicky, but Saunders was very deliberate in this choice: such a perspective forces apathetic readers to see what’s good and bad with new eyes. Fox 8 is definitely weird and that weirdness makes it highly memorable–but it’s also memorable for its quick punch. This book may be simple and short, but it isn’t insignificant.
Profile Image for Chris.
213 reviews57 followers
November 15, 2020
This short story was absolutely amazing! Both heartbreaking and sad, the story of Fox 8 shouldn't be missed.

Our story is about Fox 8, who learns "Yuman" by watching a mom read to her kids at night through a window at their house. Soon he let's it spill to his buddy Fox 7 that he knows the language of the Yumans. They go to "the mawl" to find "fud" for the other foxes in their "groop." They think it's an amazing place, "We saw the Gap!" When they leave with their "fud," the two exit from a different door and things turn tragic.

Like I said, this book will have you rolling with laughter and wiping tears of sadness from your eyes. It will also leave you thinking about how humans encroach on the habitat of wild animals. I love how the author wrote it the way of someone learning to read and write. Most of the spelling is phonetic, so it's still easy to follow. The illustrations in my copy were brilliant and added that much more to the story. This is definitely one of the best things I've read all year!
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Chandra Claypool (WhereTheReaderGrows).
1,537 reviews317 followers
November 16, 2018
If my review doesn't make sense, it's because I'm writing this through watery eyes. WOW this book packs a PUNCH! It's absolutely brilliant in every aspect. Adorable illustrations, the view of a fox, the writing itself.. I really could go on and on.

This is a tale of innocence. A fox trying to be better to find a way to supply food to his family. One single act changes him forever. The lesson here is deep and certainly socially relevant.

Things I absolutely loved was the way it was written - the crude spelling because hey, a Fox is trying here. And reading it this way was actually quite fun! The interactions between the fox and other creatures, his own kind and the imagination he has was highly entertaining and had me giggling a lot in my seat.

Basically, I love foxes. I hate humans. READ THIS BOOK
Profile Image for David J.
217 reviews206 followers
June 22, 2019
George Saunders is known for such literary achievements as Tenth of December and Man Booker-winner Lincoln in the Bardo, but I went with his newest story as my first foray into his work. And while I did enjoy the character of Fox 8 and his quirky dialect, I was ultimately left asking myself: But what’s so new about this?

Fox 8 is a curious daydreamer and learns to speak Yuman while listening to children’s bedtime stories outside of a bedroom window. But with this new insight, Fox 8 soon learns that his life and habitat are threatened by the impact of Yumans and their new construction of a mall in the foxes’ domain. He must decide the best course of action to this peculiar and danjer-ous new predicament.

Saunders definitely has a gift. I was easily transported into Fox 8’s mind, and his particular way of talking was somehow refreshing. This short story—a fable, really—is often sweet and funny, sad but hopeful. Saunders ultimately asks us to look at human impact on the environment in a touching but kind of banal way. I kept thinking of Isao Takahata’s 1994 film Pom Poko, which has a very similar, though more complex, plot. (The human-nature relationship is a staple in most, if not all, of the films produced by Studio Ghibli, of which Pom Poko belongs.) I feel that Saunders didn’t really add anything to the conversation here, especially when Takahata’s film widely presented this problem nearly 25 years ago. Nevertheless, it’s a fun little story and a (probably) gentle introduction into Saunders’s work. I do have Lincoln in the Bardo, so I’ll get to it eventually.
Profile Image for Jin.
601 reviews113 followers
January 29, 2021
I really wanted to love this short story from the bottom of my heart but it couldn't really convince me wholly. Even though I truly loved the book design with its illustration, I disliked the writing style of this story (I read the German translation and I can't explain it but I had a hard time to read/decipher the words in general, maybe it was hard for me because German wasn't my mothertongue).

The story itself was cute, sad and touching. It didn't really feel entirely unique but it was okay and fulfilled its purpose. See, now, I hate people (not all but some). It was a similar feeling after I saw the movie "Okja" where my eating habits slightly changed after watching the movie. After reading this story, I'm trying to change myself to more climate friendly habits (less plastic packaging, etc.).
Even though the story had an impact on me, I still disliked the writing style itself. Also, I wished there would have been more illustrations or more room for the illustrations to "breath" around the words.
Profile Image for Judith E.
531 reviews188 followers
December 30, 2018
There are a lot of life lessons packed in this little ditty about a fox that learns to read and speak in ‘Yuman’. As his journey takes him from his cozy fox community, to the shopping mall, and then to a new den and life, he questions why Yumans can’t be nicer.

Creative, succinct, and a bit whimsical, George Saunders’ message is loud and clear. Thanks for reminding us!
Profile Image for Henk.
821 reviews
December 22, 2019
Short, sweet and kind of familiar, but overall satisfyingly fitting in the Christmas spirit
We follow Fox 8 🦊, who picked up “Yuman” language and is quite a dreamer and an optimist. His world is shaken up by the building of a “Mawl” and an act of sudden cruelty. Fortunately he finds friends in the end so that he can plea for kindness at the conclusion of this fable.

The book is rather sweet in my opinion, but beautifully illustrated. In terms of story, I haven’t yet read Watership Down, but Fox 8 feels like a condensed children version of what I know based on the tv series, which I did see as a child. The love of nature is evident and I felt compelled to read on, so three stars, despite the fact that Fox 8 felt rather familiar.
Profile Image for merixien.
543 reviews281 followers
February 24, 2021
“Siz her zaman, hikaayeler mutlu sonla bitsin istiyosunuz, biliyorum.

Hikaayenin sonu mutlu olsun istiyosanız, daha iyi İnsanlar olmaya çalışmalısınız.”

Pencerelerin arkasından yatmadan önce anlatılan öyküleri dinleyerek insanların dilini öğrenen bir tilkinin gözünden insanların doğaya, dünyaya verdiği zararı anlatan kısacık hüzünlü bir hikaye.
Benim gibi Watership Tepesi ilginizi çekmiş ama okumaya başlayınca sıkılmışsanız bu kitaba bir şans verin. Basit bir dil ile anlamı çok derin ve çok daha güzel bir hikaye sunuyor.
Profile Image for Garrett Zecker.
Author 8 books51 followers
January 14, 2014
The first work by Saunders I have ever read was his bestselling Tenth of December this past year, and I was blown away by his literary prowess, mesmerized with the word dance and structure of reality he portrays in his work. Fox 8 was a little Kindle Single impulse buy, and for 99c I could enter into a Saunderian world once more. I bit like a sly… er… you get the point.

The thing about this text is that there really was nothing special about it on the surface. It is small, simple, and in terms of the writing, a collection of atrocious spelling and grammar that makes one dizzy at the prospect of even being able to pick it up - I mean, what were his editors thinking? What is he thinking? Who edited this? and...

…it is exactly what I love about it. I meen, it is a story of a fox. Fox 8 in particular, and I was absolutely enamoured from page one. It is beautefel. A short, simle lettel text that is a hymn to liff, nature, and love. But what is best of the Fox 8 story iz itz ability tu pull yu in and mak yu part of the little furry, warm ten acre world of our littl foxee. Lik stepping intu a reflecshun in a pond aftr seeng yur littl fox face, fur and wet nose, and step in but thru? And there yu ar.

Real. Truth. A mirror into our own world by our little furry four footed friends, but it isn't moralistic. It steps back from the editorializing a little - save for one scene - and allows the story to play out. Is it about the environment? Is it about deforestation and natural resources? Consumerism? Neglect of animal welfare? Or is it about love, and existence, and happiness, and living in the moment? The beauty of the text is the very thing that I imagine that many readers hate about it - its honesty in the face of a small impulsive little animal who learns something extraordinary.

I loved this story, and its simple illustrations, and I appreciate it as one of the times in my life where I found myself truly mystified and pulled into a narrative that reminded me of my childhood - picking up a Narnia book for the first time, say. It is elementally beautiful, and I appreciate its simplicity and lack of much more than a portrait of a brand new word, fresh from the den meeting and ready to scamper through all of the danger and love, life and struggle,...to just be.
Profile Image for Tara.
Author 22 books537 followers
January 15, 2019
I found myself more engaged with this long short story than I thought I would be. Saunders narrates as FOX 8, the name given to a real fox by his den. It's in the form of a letter or story to "Yumans." Part of the charm is the phonetic spelling throughout, because of course a fox cannot spell but has learned "werds" from listening to Yumans tell stories. Normally I hate this gimmick, but in Saunders' hands, it shines.

What is at times sweet, funny, recognizable, is at other times dark and tragic, as Yumans encroach on the den's territory. I also read this is a parallel to how some are treating the immigrants who are crossing our borders and entering our ports.

Illustrated with simple line drawings by Chelsea Cardinal. This gives it the feel of a children's fairy tale. Both beautiful and a warning of some kind.
Profile Image for Liz • りず.
41 reviews12 followers
January 24, 2023
"If you Yumans wud take one bit of advise from a meer Fox? By now I
know that you Yumans like your Storys to end hapy?
If you want your Storys to end happy, try being niser.
I awate your answer.
A whimsical and heartachingly beautiful tale of a fox who is both entranced and repulsed by human nature. Cheekily narrated by Fox8, we see the juxtaposition of human cruelty and kindness, and how innovation comes at the expense of Mother Nature and her creatures. This story is utterly charming, heart wrenching as it is. This gorgeous fable will be on my mind for a long time.
Profile Image for Himanshu Karmacharya.
880 reviews100 followers
July 11, 2020
"If you want your Storys to end happy, try being niser."

Fox 8 is a cute, short story told from the perspective of a fox. The book will make you laugh, make you go awwww, make you sad, and make you wonder what has happened to humanity. For a short book, there are a lot of emotions contained in its pages.
Profile Image for Ron Charles.
1,024 reviews48.3k followers
December 17, 2018
Small but powerful. Everything about George Saunders’s new book, “Fox 8,” is unusual. It was published Tuesday in a tiny hardback edition with illustrations by Chelsea Cardinal, but it’s been available as an ebook for years, and the story first appeared in McSweeney’s back in 2010, long before Saunders won the Booker Prize for “Lincoln in the Bardo.” It’s about a fox who learns to speak “Yuman” by listening to children’s bedtime stories. (“First may I say, sorry for any werds I spel rong.”) When the construction of a shopping mall destroys his forest, Fox 8 learns a horrifying lesson about human cruelty. “It was about trauma,” Saunders tells me, “the fact that genuinely bad things can happen to genuinely nice people (or, in this case, a genuinely nice fox). There was something shocking about that – when that terrible thing happened to that fox with such an innocent and sweet-hearted voice. And I found myself thinking: Right, exactly, that’s what violence really is: a brutal action that is not camouflaged (as it so often is in pop culture) by any glamor in the presentation -- the worst thing happening to the dearest person. Now it occurs to me that it might also be read as an immigration fable -- how terrifying it is to be adrift and then be met with violence, and how nice it is to be adrift and be greeted with hospitality.”
Profile Image for Betsy Robinson.
Author 9 books1,019 followers
December 12, 2018
This illustrated short story broke my heart. It is a plea for compassion and goodness. Thanks to my Goodreads friends for reviewing this beautiful little book and letting me know about it. Without you, my reading life would be so bland.
Profile Image for Peter Tillman.
3,545 reviews309 followers
January 10, 2021
Well, it's not bad, but the fake fox dialect gets old fast, as does the heavy-handed message. The best part was the illustrations, by Chelsea Cardinal. And it's an attractive small book. I read an almost-new library copy in about 15 minutes. With some skimming. 1.5 stars, rounded up for the cool art.

OK, story really is pretty bad. Saunders has fallen into the old trap of playing in someone else's genre, and he's just not very good at it. The story that instantly came to mind, was "The Coon Rolled Down and Ruptured His Larinks, A Squeezed Novel by Mr. Skunk" by Dafydd ab Hugh. This wonderful novelette was nominated for both the Hugo & Nebula Awards in 1991. Not online, sadly. Most easily found in Dozois #8, and highly recommended. A great, and very entertaining, story. More details: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Coo...
Profile Image for Mayk Şişman.
205 reviews169 followers
April 1, 2021
Öykülerini ve ‘Arafta’sını çok sevdiğim George Saunders’ın ‘Tilki 8’i en az ‘Pırtlaklar’ı kadar akılda kalıcı. Bir tilkinin gözünden dünyanın kaç bucak, insanların kaç kuruş olduğunu okuyoruz kitapta. İnsanı silkeleyen, ‘insan olmanın gerektirdikleri’ni sorgulatan akılda kalıcı bir kitaptı. Benim gibi ayaklı TDK’lar için -tabiatı gereği- biraz zorlayıcı bir metin olsa da tabii ki keyif aldım kitaptan.
Profile Image for Matt Quann.
615 reviews377 followers
November 29, 2021
I found a copy of Fox 8 in the bargain section of my bookstore and decided to take it for a whirl. In typical Saunders fashion, the short story is moving, humorous, and unique. Told in phonetic language from the perspective of the eponymous Fox, Saunders details the environmental impact humans have on local flora and fauna. Really enjoyable and accompanied by some adorable art.
Profile Image for Jon Nakapalau.
4,826 reviews651 followers
April 20, 2019
Dis story is abot Fox 8 who lerns to spek yuman - but yumans are very confusing, nice then very bad to foxes, why? A great fable about a fox that learns about human nature - and can now teach us about the nature of human kindness and cruelty - highly recommended.
Profile Image for Shaun.
522 reviews184 followers
April 16, 2013
2.5 stars because I'm not sure I liked it even though I can appreciate the creativity involved.

Let mee start bi saying that wile reeding this it ocurd to mee that when yoo become famus yoo can doo no rong. Yoo can rite short storees and use fonetic speling becuz after al, yoo are famus and sum won wil always bi yoor book/storee and clame it is geneous, becuz anee thing rittin bi Jorj Sawnders is bi deefawlt brileant.

Fox 8 by George Saunders is a short storee abowt a fox called Fox 8 hoo lurns to speek and rite. When hee tris to obtane food for his starving frends bi rading the mawl, things do not kwite work owt. The yumans dis appoint him, end hee desides too rite them a letter in hopes uf fineding cawmun grownd beetween the yumans and the foxes.

Okay,I think I've made my point. Interestingly, the story, while annoying to read, is somewhat clever and does have a poignant message. Still, reading it was a chore and the payoff was rather weak. So maybe a solid 4 stars for creativity but 1 star for execution. That said, at only 99 cents and twenty pages (roughly 20-30 minutes of reading time depending on how good you are at reading phonetic spelling)it's okay. This is only my second experience with George Saunders' writing, the first being Tenth of December , which I also had mixed feelings about. So if you are a fan of Saunders' edgy writing, maybe this will appeal to you. I'm still undecided.
Profile Image for Claire.
804 reviews174 followers
March 5, 2019
Fox 8 is truly, a story of our time, and Saunders is at his absolute finest here. Fox 8 is a fable of the cruelty of humankind. In it, we are exceptional, creative, and powerful. But we are also, egotistic, selfish, unthinking, and cruel. It is a timely reminder that we are not all that inhabit this earth, and that we must engage more carefully with the world around us. Saunders writes with both humour and tenderness, constructing a story that is as confronting as it is entertaining. I loved it.
Profile Image for Neeki.
96 reviews4 followers
July 8, 2020
So much said in such a short piece. It's a tale about cruelty of humankind told by an innocent fox who learns to read and speak 'Yuman'. It was creative and thought provoking. The author's message was loud and clear in this one,definitely a heart breaking realistic story. I urge everyone to read this novella.
Profile Image for Elliot de Vries.
9 reviews1 follower
June 12, 2013
I well and truly hated this story. Even more so because of the brief glimmer of potential insight which it ignores.

To start with the uncomplicatedly awful, there is Saunders’ fox dialect. Fox 8 writes curiously like the way the teenagers in Victory Lap speak, with the addition of nonstandard spelling. Literary tics proliferate, including a particularly ugly affectation involving colons (“You are neerly all eyes, due to: super hungry.”) Saunders loves the word “très” (Fox 8 is variously “Tray embaras[ed]”, “tray stunned” or “tray mad”). He also loves “like” and “woslike” (i.e. “was like”) — which would not have been problematic in the context of more naturalistic language, but here only adds to the quirky-grandpa-the-academic feel of the writing. In a word, the language is neither justifiable in terms of the narrative nor attractive in its own right.

The story’s premise is that Fox 8 becomes entangled in the human world when he teaches himself English by listening to bedtime stories through a window. Contact between man and nature leads predictably to conflict, and the story is built around a central trauma which involves an utterly unmotivated act of man-on-fox cruelty. The tragedy forever changes the perspective of Fox 8, leading to an eventual plea to the reader for an explanation of why we cannot be nicer.

The problem may already be apparent: establishing the central act of cruelty as one of otherwise unmotivated evil makes the final plea necessarily futile. Evil simply is, we are told, and why aren’t humans nicer? To even ask the question, one needs to be willing to see malevolence as something other than self-sufficient, self-caused. The final letdown is that Saunders laid the groundwork for, but then neglected, an interesting way out of this contradiction.

By far the most charming and thought-provoking aspect of Fox 8’s character is his penchant for daydreams of grandeur, in equal parts absurd and ambitious. These range from imagining going off to college with the baby of the human family he visits and receiving a mortarboard to single-handedly saving the other foxes from hunger. But even with all their absurdity, Fox 8’s fantasies remain uneasily plausible and throw a faint shadow over him — the daydreams are what connects Fox 8 to the humans. Once this connection between Fox 8 and humanity was made it would have been possible to ask a more serious and interesting question about the source of evil: can we have fantasies and ambitions without it? Unfortunately, the daydreams remain only characterization, divorced from the question the story asks its readers, a question it allows them no answers.
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