Arts & Leisure

Book review: Fox and I: An uncommon friendship — by Catherine Raven

(Spiegel & Grau)

For someone like Catherine Raven — natural history teacher, former national park ranger, and self-professed loner — consorting with a fox, or appearing to anthropomorphize a wild animal, is costly at best, and uncool at worst. So when a student suggests she referred to the fox in her slideshow as Foxie, Raven knew rigorous self-examination was in order. She decides to map out the story, to diagram how she and the fox became “friends.” The narrative voice then diverges, and we also hear the fox’s point of view. The naturalist and the fox approach most tasks in much the same way, methodical, scientific, and talk of an elk-scavenging project could turn out to be from either one’s point of view. The remote setting, “two miles up a gravel road in an isolated mountain valley,” plays a significant role in the story, as well as a panoply of wild critters, described in great and glorious detail. Hurricane Hands, as Fox soon comes to call Raven, is amusingly self-deprecating, even though she has serious reasons for wanting to disappear, complimented by Fox’s droll commentary make the storytelling delightful. Add in references to classic works of literature — “The Little Prince,” “Moby Dick” — and you’ve got an endearing and informative book.

— Reviewed by Jenny Lyons of The Vermont Book Shop in Middlebury.


10 Tales of Human-Animal Relationships

The Elephant of Belfast, by S. Kirk Walsh

Running with Sherman, by Christopher McDougall

The Friend, by Sigrid Nunez

Nala’s World, by Dean Nicholson

Life of Pi, by Yann Martel

The Ride of Her Life, by Elizabeth Letts

Owls of the Eastern Ice, by Jonathan C. Slaght

H is for Hawk, by Helen MacDonald

The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating, by Elisabeth Tova Bailey

The Otters’ Tale, by Simon Cooper

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