Confessions of the Fox

Confessions of the Fox

A Novel

Book - 2018
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"Set in the eighteenth century London underworld, this bawdy, genre-bending novel reimagines the life of thief and jailbreaker Jack Sheppard to tell a profound story about gender, love, and liberation. Recently jilted and increasingly unhinged, Dr. Voth throws himself into his work, obsessively researching the life of Jack Sheppard, a legendary eighteenth century thief. No one knows Jack's true story--his confessions have never been found. That is, until Dr. Voth discovers a mysterious stack of papers titled Confessions of the Fox. Dated 1724, the manuscript tells the story of an orphan named P. Sold into servitude at twelve, P struggles for years with her desire to live as "Jack." When P falls dizzyingly in love with Bess, a sex worker looking for freedom of her own, P begins to imagine a different life. Bess brings P into the London underworld where scamps and rogues clash with London's newly established police force, queer subcultures thrive, and ominous threats of an oncoming plague abound. At last, P becomes Jack Sheppard, one of the most notorious--and most wanted--thieves in history. An imaginative retelling of Brecht's Threepenny Opera, Confessions of the Fox blends high-spirited adventure, subversive history, and provocative wit to animate forgotten histories and the extraordinary characters hidden within. "Confessions of the Fox is a riotous and transporting novel. It's rich in the sound of another time, while thrillingly germane to our own. Jordy Rosenberg is a total original--part scamp, part genius--who has written a rollicking page-turner of a first novel. Hang on for the ride."--Maggie Nelson, author of The Argonauts "Hot damn! Jordy Rosenberg is one of the finest new talents I've seen in many years, and Confessions of the Fox is a startlingly good debut novel. The book is rich with fact and well-invented fiction, bubbling with ideas that surprise and satisfy."--Victor LaValle, author of The Changeling"-- Provided by publisher.
Publisher: New York :, One World,, [2018]
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9780399592270
Characteristics: xiv, 329 pages ; 25 cm


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Jan 20, 2019

A professor of 18th century literature finds an 18th century manuscript about a renowned transgender thief (loosely based on "Three-Penny-Opera" and transcribes it with footnotes. The novel becomes a palimpsest, sexual adventure, and survival story of marginalized people. Tantalizes with 18th century slang, details of squalid London life, and the parallel plot surrounding the professor (also transgender). Blurs the line between miracles, legend, and social revolution. "Imaginative" is too bland a word for this book.

SnoIsleLib_LindseyA Oct 27, 2018

This book will not be for everyone. If you're not used to old English slang, you may find this a difficult read. Footnotes prove to be a double-edged sword. Pausing the story to read these can make it drag, especially when Dr. Voth, the fictional translator goes on tangents, but you will gain historical insight and learn the definitions of slang such as "smish" (shirt) and "bat house" (brothel).

That said, I loved it, and I firmly believe this book will have a passionate audience. It's a literary adventure, a loving satire, a reclaiming of history for marginalized people, and it's full of skullduggery and romance. Rosenberg is quite a writer. He wields fantastic, inventive metaphors, and there's an earthy eroticism to his writing that I find very rare.

I was drawn to this book for its reimagining of a historical figure (Jack Sheppard, 18th century master thief) as a transman. I left it feeling clearheaded in a way, and with so much love for these characters.

Sep 09, 2018

Rosenberg takes us on an energetic expedition into Dr. Vox's (trans)lation of an 18th century manuscript about a famous thief Jack Sheppard. The reader follows the escapades and capers which then is followed by Vox's footnotes and telling of his own present circumstances. The vivid description of characters and rich and wild escapades are sure to take you on a ride full of gaudy, amusing, and incredibly inventive narrative.

Aug 26, 2018

I loved this book. It was exciting to encounter such a heady mix of ideas, humour and resistance in a very good story.

Aug 25, 2018

I hope the author had as much fun writing this as I had reading it. I had to stop and laugh a few times. And he even refs 2 sf novels by SRD in a footnote that are among my favorites! What else could one want?

JCLTamiT Aug 15, 2018

I had a hard time selecting a star-rating for this one. It started out hard to put down. I really enjoyed the early part of Jack's story, and even liked Voth's story in the footnotes. As the book went on, though, I found it harder and harder to pick back up. Voth's story got extremely convoluted, academic, and a bit too meta for me. Jack's story remained pretty entertaining (though the best was definitely the first part), and was what got me to finish the book. There are some interesting themes, but maybe it just tried to say too much.


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