Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Fantastic Mr. Fox

I read this Sunday afternoon.

Here was my favorite selection: They all sat down panting for breath. And Mrs. Fox said to her children, "I should like you to know that if it wasn't for your father we'd all be dead by now. Your father is a fantastic fox." Mr. Fox looked at his wife and she smiled. He loved her more than ever when she said things like that.
She smiles, and then the narrator touches Mr. Fox, so lightly in the above line, showing his little surge of gut feeling. It seems that this little surge of appreciation he feels at her appreciating him allows him to be heroic and narcissistic. And perhaps its that little bit of vulnerability shown with such a slight of hand, even love from the narrator makes me love Mr. Fox. And the way Mrs. Fox gives it to him with that little smile, makes me love the book.

And as far as entrances go, Roald Dahl sets the stage with the bad guys. He introduces them in the first chapter as a group. Then describes each in turn, by what they eat and how they're shaped. Mainly Boggis, Bunce and Bean are mean. And the language sets the attitude. Rhyming and alliteration equals fun and these guys are fun to hate. In the second chapter, we get the fox, his hill, his tree, his hole, his family and his stealing. Every night, first he asked and then, when Mrs. Fox had told him what she wanted, he would creep down into the valley in the darkness of the night and help himself. Well put, Mr. (or Ms.?) Narrator. And right away the war begins.

A lot of eating, chivalry, politeness and appreciation in this little book. There is also a lot of scrabbling through the dirt making holes. 

Comparison to the movie: the movie was light and winsome, and the book seemed darker(in a Dahl, nose-picky kind of way) and simpler, but I could see where Wes Anderson pulled the light and winsome from. The narrator had a loving eye not unlike Wes Anderson's. And the scrabbling remained. But the movie was bigger, which seems to be the trend these days (see Where the Wild Things Are), and I guess I prefer it this way, at least this time, because the book was beautiful in its simplicity.

As Always (couldn't revise, thought this might help),