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Fox and I: An Uncommon Friendship by…
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Fox and I: An Uncommon Friendship (original 2021; edition 2021)

by Catherine Raven (Author)

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21316111,655 (3.79)8
Instant New York Times Bestseller Winner of the PEN/E.O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award  * 2022 Nautilus Book Awards Gold Winner  *  Shortlisted for the John Burroughs Medal * Finalist for the Stubbendieck Great Plains Distinguished Book Prize * Shortlisted for a Reading the West Book Award   A Christian Science Monitor Best Book of the Year * 2021 Summer Reading Pick by BUZZFEED * NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW * KIRKUS * TIME MAGAZINE * GOOD MORNING AMERICA * PEOPLE MAGAZINE * THE WASHINGTON POST   "The book everyone will be talking about ... full of tenderness and understanding." - The New York Times   An "extraordinary" (Oprah Daily) memoir about the friendship between a solitary woman and a wild fox.   Includes reading group guide and an interview with the author  When Catherine Raven finished her PhD in biology, she built herself a tiny cottage on an isolated plot of land in Montana. She was as emotionally isolated as she was physically, but she viewed the house as a way station, a temporary rest stop where she could gather her nerves and fill out applications for what she hoped would be a real job that would help her fit into society. In the meantime, she taught remotely and led field classes in nearby Yellowstone National Park. Then one day she realized that a mangy-looking fox was showing up on her property every afternoon at 4:15 p.m. She had never had a regular visitor before. How do you even talk to a fox? She brought out her camping chair, sat as close to him as she dared, and began reading to him from The Little Prince. Her scientific training had taught her not to anthropomorphize animals, yet as she grew to know him, his personality revealed itself and they became friends. From the fox, Catherine learned the single most important thing about loneliness: we are never alone when we are connected to the natural world. Friends, however, cannot save each other from the uncontained forces of nature.  Fox and I is a poignant and remarkable tale of friendship, growth, and coping with inevitable loss--and of how that loss can be transformed into meaning. It is both a timely tale of solitude and belonging as well as a timeless story of one woman whose immersion in the natural world will change the way we view our surroundings--each tree, weed, flower, stone, or fox.… (more)
Member:Andrei109
Title:Fox and I: An Uncommon Friendship
Authors:Catherine Raven (Author)
Info:Spiegel & Grau (2021), 304 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:*****
Tags:None

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Fox and I: An Uncommon Friendship by Catherine Raven (2021)

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Showing 1-5 of 14 (next | show all)
A scientist forms a relationship with a wild red fox who visits her at the same time everyday on her homestead in Montana. Reflections ensue. My final opinion: an interesting, foxy fairytale for grownups that ultimately reads like one big apologetic.

I was super drawn to this book for a lot of reasons: 1) I read Pilgrim At Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard in college (and loved it); 2) I've thought about having children just so I can read them The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery; and 3) one of my favorite childhood books that I cannot remember the title of for the life of me involves a young girl meeting a wild, male fox named "Vicky" (I feel like a failure of a librarian for not being able to figure this out!!).

There's also of course the eternal allure of wild animals, and the enduring, childlike sense of adventure that goes along with being accepted by them. I think this idea plays at the edges of a lot of people's imaginations, maybe something that we grow out of as we get older. This draw, along with Raven's prose, her imaginative sequences that are narrated from Fox's point of view, and the question of humanity's relationship and connection to animals, are the most interesting parts of the book, to me. I would have been delighted to read a story that was entirely made up of these elements.

I was fully prepared to let the ambient noise of this detailed, naturalistic narrative wash over me and just get lost in the world. The sticking place that prevented that was the fact that this book seems to be a defense against Raven's straw man in the science world (I mean, maybe it exists, but we don't see any evidence of it outside of Raven's mind) that says that animals and humans can't be friends, or that the relationship between animals and humans shouldn't be "unnatural". Raven reacts so strongly to her perceptions of how others are perceiving her that it's hard to relax into the relationship that she's portraying. She also makes a lot of very disturbing comments off-hand, primarily about her childhood; I've found this is normal for memoirists who either a) aren't very experienced at it or b) might still major work to do in therapy, but I found myself to be much more curious about the things she was obscurely alluding to than about how much she relates to Ishmael in Moby Dick.

There is a lot of moralizing throughout this book that doesn't make great sense, and I'm not going to go into any counter-arguments, because I don't think that's really the issue that I take with it, ultimately. (OK, OK, I will say one thing: she talks about how the magpie doesn't engage in self-improvement, unlike her, primarily because the magpie will not live long enough for that to be evolutionarily viable. To this I say: she has obviously never met a parrot; they are completely depraved and live as long as humans. Is she being figurative? I could never figure it out.) My biggest problem–OK, so I'm writing this after reading Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay, which includes an essay about how people feel the need to diagnose unlikeable women narrators, which is exactly what I was about to do here. SO, I'm refraining. What I think my ultimate problem with the book was NOT the fact that Raven is an unlikeable narrator, but that she makes her unlikability a primary focus of the narrative. To me, the issue was not that Raven preferred the company of animals to humans, but that she felt the need to justify it.

I saw an interview with Raven (again, I know I'm not supposed to do this...) in which she said that she didn't so much come away from her relationship with Fox thinking that anthropomorphism wasn't wrong, but that she doesn't think that we even know which characteristics are uniquely human well enough to do it in the first place. I think that's an interesting point and wish the book had explored that more explicitly. The strongest moments are when she points out humanity's own inconsistencies in regards to how we treat the natural world, but this book ultimately reads as a defense thesis of her own emotions towards a single creature. ( )
  graceandbenji | Sep 1, 2022 |
Can a person and a fox become friends? Before listening to this book I wouldn't have thought so but Catherine Raven makes a compelling case for interspecies friendship.

Catherine Raven has a Ph. D. in biology and before attaining that she worked as a park ranger in numerous western USA parks. So she's seen a lot of wildlife and studied them systematically. During the events detailed in this book she was living on a remote piece of land in Montana in a small two story cottage. She was teaching classes remotely and also leading groups in nearby Yellowstone National Park. She thought this would just be a temporary home as she expected to land a "real" job teaching in some post-secondary institution. As she was sitting in her little cabin she suddenly realized that one fox showed up every day at 4:15 pm. She started taking a little camp chair out to sit near him. For something to do she picked up her copy of The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery and read out loud to the fox. Initially she thought she could do a scientific treatise on him but she came to feel that they were friends and it felt wrong to study a friend. As they continued to spend time together Raven felt she was learning much from the fox about her surroundings. And she discovered a universal truth "You are never alone when you are connected to the natural world". I think this would be a good book to have a hard copy of so that one could pick it up and check out some of the nuggets of wisdom.

Raven is obviously an intelligent woman and a book lover. In addition to The Little Prince she often refers to Moby Dick. I loved The Little Prince but I admit I struggled with Moby Dick. After hearing Fox and I though I am tempted to go back to read it. ( )
  gypsysmom | Aug 12, 2022 |
Okay, unpopular opinion time...it just wasn't for me. I LOVED the fact that it is the kick off title for the emergence of Spiegel & Grau...and that the little fox even made itself at home in their logo. I ADORED the concept of this single solitary woman making her way in the world on her own terms, and befriending or perhaps being befriended by this naturally wild creature. I APPRECIATED her struggle to balance the continued meetings as they became familiar to one another with her scientific mind screaming against humanizing the little fellow. I was HEARTSORE when he disappeared, REJOICED when all wasn't found quite lost, and DASHED again when eventually, Mother Nature had her say in the whole matter. I REVELED in the peace she found for both herself, her past, and her present, while acknowledging that the future is still an unknown that has possibility. All of this I can say with an open heart because IT'S TRUE and the fact that she shared her journey with us is memorable too. But still...in the end, it wasn't for me.

I think I clung to hard to the relationship between her and the fox, and felt hard stung to draw my attention elsewhere in the world as relayed to us as readers. It's not that I was hoping for something more because it's fact not fiction and what happened happened, and yet my own connections to everything transpiring were not as passionate...and THAT'S OKAY! As I said, I could still appreciate it's beauty, it's uniqueness, and can certainly see that with the right audience, this will be one taken to heart and enjoyed for some time to come.


**ARC received for review; opinions are my own ( )
  GRgenius | Jul 31, 2022 |
Book on CD narrated by Stacey Glemboski

Subtitle: An Uncommon Friendship

From the book jacket: When Catherine Raven finished her PhD in biology, she built herself a tiny cottage on an isolated plot of land in Montana. She was as emotionally isolated as she was physically, but she viewed the house as a temporary rest stop where she could gather her nerves and fill out applications for what she hoped would be a real job that would help her fit into society. In the meantime, she taught remotely and led field classes in nearby Yellowstone National Park. Then one day she realized that a mangy-looking fox was showing up on her property every afternoon at 4:15 p.m.

My reactions
I loved this memoir. Raven had some issues and talking to Fox helped her sort through where she had been, where she was, and where she was going. I loved that she chose to read The Little Prince aloud to Fox, drawing comparisons between her own situation and that the Little Prince (and author Antoine de Saint-Exupéry). And isn’t this what friendship is all about?

I loved how she approached nature, the way she observed and absorbed the beauty and wonder of the various life forms around her. And I appreciated the information she imparted about voles, birds, trees, deer, dogs and, of course, foxes.

Stacey Glemboski does a marvelous job of narrating the audiobook, but I did find myself going back and reading several chapters in text. I think I like the reading experience better than listening for this work. ( )
  BookConcierge | Jul 26, 2022 |
_Fox and I_ is a tale of a woman—a woman as modern human and as human animal—and her introspective engagement with the natural world that surrounds her. It's a tale of participation and not mere observation and what that means to her and what that may mean to the rest of us.

This memoir is utterly unique and her writing is stupendous. I was also quite impressed with her ability to seamlessly weave a tale of both fiction and memoir. _Fox and I_ deserves all the awards it is bound to win and is one of those rare books that will be read and reread for decades to come. Quite an achievement. ( )
  ErrantRuminant | Mar 9, 2022 |
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A double rainbow had changed the course of my relationship with the fox.
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Instant New York Times Bestseller Winner of the PEN/E.O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award  * 2022 Nautilus Book Awards Gold Winner  *  Shortlisted for the John Burroughs Medal * Finalist for the Stubbendieck Great Plains Distinguished Book Prize * Shortlisted for a Reading the West Book Award   A Christian Science Monitor Best Book of the Year * 2021 Summer Reading Pick by BUZZFEED * NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW * KIRKUS * TIME MAGAZINE * GOOD MORNING AMERICA * PEOPLE MAGAZINE * THE WASHINGTON POST   "The book everyone will be talking about ... full of tenderness and understanding." - The New York Times   An "extraordinary" (Oprah Daily) memoir about the friendship between a solitary woman and a wild fox.   Includes reading group guide and an interview with the author  When Catherine Raven finished her PhD in biology, she built herself a tiny cottage on an isolated plot of land in Montana. She was as emotionally isolated as she was physically, but she viewed the house as a way station, a temporary rest stop where she could gather her nerves and fill out applications for what she hoped would be a real job that would help her fit into society. In the meantime, she taught remotely and led field classes in nearby Yellowstone National Park. Then one day she realized that a mangy-looking fox was showing up on her property every afternoon at 4:15 p.m. She had never had a regular visitor before. How do you even talk to a fox? She brought out her camping chair, sat as close to him as she dared, and began reading to him from The Little Prince. Her scientific training had taught her not to anthropomorphize animals, yet as she grew to know him, his personality revealed itself and they became friends. From the fox, Catherine learned the single most important thing about loneliness: we are never alone when we are connected to the natural world. Friends, however, cannot save each other from the uncontained forces of nature.  Fox and I is a poignant and remarkable tale of friendship, growth, and coping with inevitable loss--and of how that loss can be transformed into meaning. It is both a timely tale of solitude and belonging as well as a timeless story of one woman whose immersion in the natural world will change the way we view our surroundings--each tree, weed, flower, stone, or fox.

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