Tag Archives: Gabrielle Zevin

Fox 8 by George Saunders. Illustrated by Chelsea Cardinal

Fox 8 by George Saunders Title: Fox 8
Author: George Saunders
Illustrated by Chelsea Cardinal
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
ISBN: 978-1526606488
Genre: Satire, Fiction, Fable for Adults
Pages: 64
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5 stars

There are some books that just nestle into your heart and stay there. For me, those have been the likes of An Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett, Sputnik Sweetheart by Haruki Murakami, The Collected Works of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin, Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Capote, and The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery. You get the drift, don’t you? These are the kind of books that can be read to soothe me, when I am feeling down. I am certain we all have these kind of books – the ones that make everything alright, just by opening them and reading – over and over again. Fox 8 by George Saunders is the latest addition to my ever-growing list of “heartwarming” books. (I hate the use of the word heartwarming, my apologies).

I love Saunders (Lincoln in the Bardo though is my least favourite book written by him, though it won the Man Booker Prize and all that). His short fiction is par excellence, his essays even better in my opinion, and basically whatever he writes is pure gold. Fox 8 is no less of a book because of its size. If anything, after you are done reading it, you tend to agree that it had to end, where it did, even if you wanted more of it.

Fox 8 - Image 1

Read more: In Appreciation of George Saunders

This 64-page novella/novelette is about a fox – the name is Fox 8 who is curious about humans (poor sad fox. I for one can’t stand most humans) and also learns some of the English language, by watching parents read to their children (I love how the fox also debunks fairy tales for us with reference to the role of the fox in them). Saunders is in his full form with inventiveness of language – writing (phonetically) the way a fox would – yooman and not human, bare and not bear, and the list goes on. At first, you wonder about the writing style and when you give in, you are in love with this fantastical tale of two foxes visiting a mall (that has been built razing most of their forest) and what happens next.

Fox 8 - Image 2Read more: George Saunders’s 10 Favourite Books

Before I forget, kudos and more to Chelsea Cardinal for the illustrations that go so well with the story. The illustrations are all black and white, except the foxes – they are in orange and stunning would perhaps be a lesser adjective to use. Saunders’ story is telling of our times – of the way we inhabit spaces and make of them to how endangered our wild life really is – and all of this is said with the eccentric and almost witty (in this one at least), true blue Saunders style.

Fox 8 is heartwarming, also heart-wrenching, makes you look at the world we have made and why and question almost every decision – which I think we must. At the same time, it makes a spot in your heart and will not go away. I am very happy that it was the first read of the year for me. Read it. It is truly beautifully done.

You can buy Fox 8 by George Saunders here

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Book Review: The Collected Works of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

The Collected Works of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin Title: The Collected Works of A.J. Fikry
Author: Gabrielle Zevin
Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group
ISBN: 9781408704615
Genre: Literary Fiction
Pages: 243
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5/5

There comes a time in everyone’s life when a book truly speaks to them. It talks and you cannot do anything but listen and wonder what happened to all those dreams and hopes that were once present. Books do that. They have the power to communicate. They also have the power to heal a broken soul, no matter how broken or damaged. I think for me, books have always been that. An antidote to everything that is wrong with the world and everything that can be made right, with just the turn of the page.

So when I knew that my next read was going to be about books and reading, I could not contain my joy. I love books about books and reading that centre on the theme of a reader or two. It fills my heart with immense warmth. This is exactly what happened as I read, “The Collected Works of A.J. Fikry” by Gabrielle Zevin.

The book is a story of a bookstore owner and how his life transforms completely, through reading and the people he meets in the course of his life, or rather those who enter his life involuntarily and change it completely. The bookstore is called Island Books and is on a small town called Alice in Staten Island. A.J. Fikry’s wife died recently in a car accident and he does not know what to do with his life. Books and his store are the only things that keep him going.

On the other hand, there is Amelia, a book representative who is leading a very lonely life and has a big heart. She too loves her books and reads with a passion. Needless to say, her life intersects that of A.J. and things take a dramatic turn. Amidst all this, there is a two-year old baby Maya, who is left at the bookstore’s doorstep one fine day and A.J. has no clue what to do with her.

In all of this, A.J’s first edition of Poe is stolen and he is immensely heartbroken about it. There is no way he can get it back, try as he might. It just vanished in thin air.

If the plot does not compel you enough to go out and read this book, then maybe my experience while reading it should, or so I hope. The book made me laugh. The book made me cry. Books that do that to you have a power which cannot be defined. Zevin’s writing is marvellous. She takes the emotion – lays it bare and then gives it her own touch of empathy and unique voice. There are times when I had to keep the book down, take a breath, or perhaps not choke with emotion and get back to it.

A.J. Fikry is one character who will not be forgotten by readers who read this gem of a book. Zevin has created characters that are loveable and what binds them is their love of books and the written word. I could not stop reading this book. In fact, I also remember telling a friend before watching a movie on Saturday night that I would rather be home, finishing this book and this is exactly what I did once the movie got over. I rushed home and finished this book, only to find myself crying at the end of it and fully aware that I would reread this magical book and cry and laugh all over again.