What emotional vocabulary can express both the joy and the doubts she experienced devoting copious time and love to a wild creature? This fanciful, literate, unsentimental and yet deeply felt memoir is her answer ... Every story demands a language of its own and Raven chooses a fluid, swift-moving style, which takes some getting used to ... She’s a superb nature writer, who also delves into cultural topics, such as the fox icons found in Inari temples in Japan ... More than most books, Raven’s sets out unique, even eccentric, terms, and she uses fictional techniques to round out her account, including sections told from Fox’s perspective. If a reader is willing, the experience of journeying alongside her as she lives with Fox and meditates about him is extremely rewarding ... Fox & I will appeal to those who despair about human depredation of the natural world and sense climate change as the looming, existential threat to life. But Raven’s book isn’t a treatise, it isn’t a call to arms, it isn’t political. Perhaps it is best understood as a plea for understanding.
Catherine Raven’s story about her relationship with a wild red fox, is likely to find a receptive audience. But readers might also ask, given the well-trodden ground on this topic, whether there’s much new to say ... Like Ms. Macdonald and Mr. Hamer, Ms. Raven had turned to nature as a salve for psychic wounds ... A self-described 'pathologically private' person, Ms. Raven is sometimes reticent to a fault ... A passing mention of a news event places Fox’s arrival in 2005, but Ms. Raven’s memoir avoids specific dates.The effect of such omissions is to render a narrative that sometimes seems fabulistic and outside time, which is perhaps what Ms. Raven intends ... Fox and I explores whether true friendship is possible between people and creatures of the wild. Ms. Raven seems to recognize that the concept will strike many readers as strange, but she appears drawn to such things precisely because they can’t easily be quantified ... mysterious and magical.
... an unnerving, contemplative look at solitude and the connections we make with the outside world. For the reader, there’s a palpable sense of dread that keeps the pages moving: Fox won’t live forever. Yet Raven, who knows that well, writes with a refreshingly unsentimental hand. Her main concern isn’t the expiration date of their time together, but how she categorizes and comes to terms with the animal’s presence in her life ... Readers may be tempted to skip over the details in Fox & I that seem irrelevant: the lengthy history of a weed; sentences spent describing Fox lying out on his favorite boulder. But Raven is at her best here, demanding our patience and rewarding those who pay attention with lush prose that coalesces into a dreamy portrait of wildlife.
This is something altogether different from the latest 'went into the wild to find myself' offering. Raven’s is a memoir unspooled in nature, a first-person account from an unusually observant point of view ... Augmenting Raven’s vibrant observations of flora and fauna is her deliberation as a person, scientist, writer. Fox & I balances the fluency of her writing with the pauses she offers Fox—and us. Redemption by way of solitude is offset by the darkness that lurks and lingers. This is the tension upon which the book rides and rests ... Her understanding of mortality prowls page to page ... Raven has written a book about reading to a fox that I want to read to anyone or anything that cares to listen. Would that I could read it to Ghost and the fox the next time they meet up.
...fascinating ... profoundly touching ... Fox & I is infused with classical references, botanical, biological and geological explorations, and deep intellectual and emotional theorizing about her time in the wilderness and her remarkable contact with Fox ... Anyone who has ever wished to live in direct contact with nature and its many forces and faces will appreciate Raven’s recollections.
All these scenes work in the narrative to build a sense camaraderie between Raven and Fox; collectively, they stand as a testament for the meaning and beauty in the small and seemingly insignificant moments in life ... Raven’s prose is at its best in moments like this, where she pauses to reflect and extrapolates her experience into a general sentiment. They always feel earned and are always written in a lush, elegant style ... These sections are skillfully done—they are given in frequent, short bursts throughout, never stretching on longer than necessary and persistently written in methodical and often insightful prose ... Occasionally, they can become a bit plodding, but overall, they succeed. Whether you think that these sections are earned or not will vary depending on how far you are willing to extend your imagination with Raven, who goes so far as to include brief exclamations from Fox’s point of view ... These instances are few and don’t take away from Fox’s sections—indeed, you may even find them charming— but feel out of place in a book that is taking seriously the idea that wild animals have emotions and desires similar to humans and therefore shouldn’t be treated as either hostile enemies to be killed or stupid creatures to be pitied. Raven is trying to be cute—a tone that never once encroaches on the rest of the narrative, which showcases real communication and friendship between different species ... Right up to tragic yet hopeful ending, this book is irresistible reading. Lovers of nature will appreciate Raven’s thoughtful writing about the place of humans in the natural world; Lovers of stories will be entranced by the rendering of friendship, and its strange power to change lives. Poignant and thought-provoking, Fox and I will have you re-evaluating your relationship to your local environment and the non-human animals that share it with you.
[A] multi-layered exploration of a world in which humans honor rather than dominate nature ... Fox & I takes us out of a relentless focus on the human-built world in ways that invite compassion for nature. The book is described as enabling readers to experience animals in a new and marvelous way. But there are times when Raven decides that an animal, person, or practice isn't worthy of her admiration — and compassion becomes thin on the ground ... fans of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's The Little Prince will find extra enjoyment in these pages ... Raven seemed to think that animal-behavior scientists inevitably decry as bad anthropomorphism any attempt to acknowledge animal emotion, so that she has to defy science to honor Fox. Yet works by animal behaviorists like Jane Goodall, Frans de Waal, Carl Safina, and Marc Bekoff have for a long time now described the expression of emotions by animals in detail ... That complexity emerges compellingly in the narrative as Fox matures, fathers kits, and expresses his caring for Raven's friendship more and more directly ... in some parts of the book, harsh certainties dominate where some nuances would be welcome ... For Raven, though, Fox's hunting is natural and the cat's is morally repulsive because cats are recent arrivals, unnatural to the landscape. Rather than expressing frustration at humans who have caused cats to become feral, she expresses her hatred (her word again) for the cats ... For that matter, she dislikes a lot of scientists ... Whether this scornful tone adds to or detracts from the book's message will be an intriguing point of discussion for readers ... Though at a remove, Fox's exuberance for life left his emotional mark on me, too.
This quietly poetic memoir describes the somewhat meandering paths that Raven and Fox, a yearling male and the runt of the litter, traversed to achieve their unusual partnership ... A soulful and indelible exploration of an interspecies friendship.
... smart and tender ... At times Raven’s blow-by-blow descriptions of the ecosystem drag, and her narrations from Fox’s point of view often felt too cute for me. Still, the deftness of her observations erases any suggestion that her connection to Fox is invented or saccharine. It blooms, like any other friendship, from proximity, personality, attention and time ... Allowing every animal on the page its full agency, Fox & I crisply upends the hierarchy that places humans at the top of a pyramid. For some readers, this reanimation of wild animals may be painful, a reminder that the ecological destruction we’re collectively perpetrating falls upon conscious, aware beings, who are now tasked with surviving transformed habitats and extreme conditions ... By the end of Fox & I, I found myself deeply lonely for the kind of belonging Raven found on the land. How did we end up so distant from our animal friends?
Along with reverently describing her furry friend—who had a “face so innocent that you would have concluded that he never stalked a bluebird, let alone dismembered one”—Raven writes poetically about the flora (“my sun-worshipping tenants”) and fauna around her. Rich and meditative, Raven’s musings on nature and solitude are delightful company.
The touching memoir of a biologist who befriended a fox in the wilderness ... With a scientific depth of examination accompanied by lyrical language, Raven explores the development of the bond between the fox and herself as well as the natural habitat surrounding her home, including the responsibilities of landownership ... A heartfelt meditation on the power of nature and a touching homage to a beloved wild friend.