There is no writer who gets our vanity, and our endless capacity for hope and cruelty like George Saunders does. Fox 8 is a cautionary tale rolled up in a comic romp rolled up in a fable. The way that Yumans (and Foxes) behave is hilarious and tragic, all at the same time. Saunders’ license with our language has always been part of what makes him unique and daring, and it’s in full throat in this magical book. Fox 8 may be short, but I dare you to read it only once.
A story that can and will be read by children – but it’s also a book of deep, complex truths ... The language takes a bit of work initially. Fox’s malapropisms are often very funny, though, and you soon get used to the linguistic tics by which he represents the contemporary American idiom ... Above all else, it’s a story packed with the kind of moral didacticism that we expect to get from a certain type of children’s story – all about respecting others and the importance of basic decency.
In Fox 8, Saunders’ climate message is... bluntly stated; what elevates it is a linguistic innovation that brings adult playfulness and archness to the storytelling ... [Saunders'] narrative is a beguiling jumble of bad grammar and phonetic spellings ('Par King' for parking; 'mawl' for mall), and his tone alternates from childlike naivety to sly adult knowing ... This mash-up of language is beguiling and gives the book a doubleness that tempers the simple didacticism of Saunders’ message ... Fox 8 has an undeniable charm and its artwork, by Chelsea Cardinal, beautifully reflects the subject matter with its clean-lined, woodcut quality. And Saunders typically builds a mountain of emotion out of a few pages so that the central tragedy — Fox 7’s death — is truly affecting ... If Serota is right and art can inspire activism, Fox 8 is not just a handsome little stocking-filler but can help to transform the world in its own small, beautiful way.
The delicious mangling of language that occurs as the fox, known among his vulpine friends as Fox 8, transliterates the words he hears gives the story a chewy textural vitality that is only really effective on the page ... a sweet little morality tale...Saunders is a master of the form ... feels like literature enacted as a form of activism. Not many writers could get away with this, but somehow Saunders carries it off.
Particularly fans of Saunders' short fiction, will appreciate the voice, wit and balance of darkness and light ... The social commentary might seem blatant but power is a dominant theme in fables and like George Orwell's Animal Farm, Fox 8 makes no apologies for being a morality tale. And as well as being a warning about unchecked consumerism and development, it's also subtle, satiric and, as is so often the case with Saunders, beautifully compassionate ...In the hands of a lesser writer, the phonetically spelled words throughout the book might seem cutsie or annoying, but Saunders includes just the right amount - not enough to disrupt the reading experience but enough to ensure they are intrinsic to the narrative voice.
Saunders is that rare writer who is utterly original, inventive – yet accessible – with a grasp on the human condition only found elsewhere in Tolstoy or Chekhov ...sweetly naive and throws a light on hypocrisies and ridiculousness as well as making the reader view everyday things a little differently, in a childlike way ... Fox 8’s lack of literacy is a highlight ... The story is wonderfully illustrated by Chelsea Cardinal, which adds to the fairy tale feel – but this is very much an adult read.
A pleasing degree of restrained sentimentality ... Now, suspension of disbelief is a wonderful thing, but by the end of the book, when the whole story is revealed as being a letter written to a 'Yuman', I sat thinking – did it hold a pencil in its teeth? Where did the paper come from? If you put a glamour over your reader, you need at least not to break it ... has charm, although it is undercut by a certain self-regarding virtuosity. Saunders has always been good at a kind of cuddly kindness with undertones of satire and sorrow. This does not break the mold, but it will indubitably take your mind off, say, the train journey between Glasgow and Edinburgh.