Title: The FoxmanThe-Foxman
Author: Gary Paulsen
Pages: 119
Recommended Ages: Not Recommended
Star Rating:

It wasn’t until I started to review The Foxman that I realized the main character was nameless. Absolutely nameless. Or, if he has a name, I couldn’t find it, even after flipping through the book. So, as a point of reference, I have supplied him with the name ‘Madagascar’. Just remember as you’re reading the review – it isn’t really Madagascar (who would name their kid that?) – but I don’t know what it is.

The Story.

Madagascar would rather stay home. After all, it is his home, even if his mother did try to stab him. At least he was used to that. But no, some nosey neighbor had to call the cops and some stuffy judge had to send him off to live with his aunt and uncle on a farm. Who wants to live on a farm, anyway? Especially with a bunch of cousins and old men?

As the days went by he got used to the place – almost started to like uprooting stumps and shooting deer. One day he and his cousin Carl track a fox too far – the wily beast – and they are forced to sleep the night in the woods. But instead of camping the night in the cold snow, they stumble across a hut. A trapper answers their bangs; a trapper with a mutilated face. They are happy to leave the next morning – the man was creepy, even if he did wear a mask over his disfigurement. Carl never returns, but Madagascar does. He wants to find out more about this man, the Foxman. Who is he? Why does he live alone? And how did he become so horribly mangled?

Cautions.

As should be obvious from my story synopsis, The Foxman includes a very problematic portrayal of family relationships. The entire reason Madagascar is sent to live with his cousins is because his parents are both drunkards and his mother became intoxicated to the point of chasing him around the house trying to stab him. Their condition and actions are only discussed in the first chapter, but it sets the tone for the rest of the story. In The Foxman no meaningful relationships exist apart from Madagascar’s friendship with the Foxman. Disconnectivity hangs over all human relationships, and in the end, Madagascar hasn’t found a way to connect with his family. It’s really depressing.

Boys speak of their crushes and discuss particular girls – how well they kiss, how ‘developed’ they are, etc. In the last chapter, Carl tells Madagascar that his girlfriend is pregnant.

Blood is said to gush out of a dead deer – ‘like gallons of it’. The Foxman’s disfigured face is described once and it is pretty disgusting.

Cigarettes and pipes are smoked.

‘H—’ is used three times and ‘d—’ is used once (all fully spelled).

Conclusion. If I were to pick one word which described The Foxman I would choose the word fragmented. Everything is fragmented – lives, relationships, thoughts, the world, everything. Due to this theme I do not recommend The Foxman to my readers.

Review © 2013 Laura Verret

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