I want to spotlight a book that publishes next week (July 6). Fox & I is a memoir that I look forward to reading this summer.
A wild fox befriends a solitary woman at her home in Montana, and their relationship transforms them both in this inspiring, surprising, and often funny memoir. Both a new window onto the natural world and the introduction of a remarkable literary talent.
Catherine Raven left home at 15, fleeing an abusive, disdainful father and an indifferent mother. More at home in nature than among people, she worked for many years as a National Parks ranger, eventually earning a Ph.D. in biology while working as a janitor and living in her car (which lacked a reverse gear) or on abandoned construction sites. She built a house on an isolated plot of land in Montana, teaching remotely and leading field courses in the National Parks. One day, she realized that the mangy-looking fox who had been appearing on her property was now showing up every day at 4:15, positioning himself near a lone forget-me-not near the house. She had never had a regular visitor before. How do you even talk to a fox? One day she brought out her camping chair, sat as near to him as she dared, and began reading to him from The Little Prince. Her scientific training had taught her not to anthropomorphize animals, but as she grew to know him, his personality revealed itself—and he became her friend. But friends cannot always save each other from the uncontained forces of nature. Fox and I is also a poignant and dramatic tale of coping with inevitable loss and how that loss can be transformed into meaning. An uplifting, fable-like true story, it not only reveals the power of friendship and our interconnectedness with the natural world but introduces an original, imaginative, stunning new literary voice.
Praise for Fox & I:
“Fox and I will make you feel deeply about our relationship with animals and nature. After you read this book, you will experience animals in a new and marvelous way.” —Temple Grandin, author of Animals in Translation
“If Thoreau had read The Little Prince, he would have written Fox and I.”—Yann Martel, author of Life of Pi
“Intimate and poetic …. By paying ecstatic attention to grasses, insects, birds, and animals, Catherine Raven allows us to hear what nature is saying to us. Fox and I is essential reading for anyone concerned about the catastrophe human beings are inflicting on the environment from which they and all other creatures sprang.” —Stephen Batchelor, author of The Art of Solitude
“This tale of wilderness, in the tradition of Thoreau and Steinbeck, is distinguished by a narrator who sees herself as one of the many creatures she lives among …. Catherine Raven has achieved something unique in the literature of nature-writing: genuine love for the wild within the rigor of scientific observation. The voice of this story-teller is startlingly original. I read it breathlessly.”— Andrei Codrescu
“Fox and I is a mesmerizing, beautifully written, and entirely unsentimental book about the connection among all things: the author and her fox friend, but also magpies, brown dogs, fawns, voles, and junipers. I learned as much about the meaning of friendship from this book as I have from any work of nonfiction that I’ve ever read.”—Will Schwalbe, author of The End of Your Life Book Club