A collective of bibliophiles talking about books. Book Fox (vulpes libris): small bibliovorous mammal of overactive imagination and uncommonly large bookshop expenses. Habitat: anywhere the rustle of pages can be heard.
So, we ran a writing competition, because Vulpes Libris is looking for new writers. The BookFoxes are a fluid entity: some come and go and then come back again, some go and never come back, some stay for years, but what we all have in common are temporary crises when we have to rush off and move house, be ill, have babies, and experience the unexpected other things that demand ALL our attention, so much so that we can’t even read a book or write about it. On those occasions, the rest of the BookFoxes surge into action, and cover the gaps. Lately, the gaps have been less thickly covered than we would like, hence the competition to lure new writers into the light.
What, exactly, were we looking for? Not just straight book reviews but something with a bit of character about it. Something where the words made more than sense, but sprang into life and convinced us that this writer really felt something about this book. They may have hated it, they may have been exasperated by it, or they may have loved it. We wanted pieces that really tried to button-hole the reader, and transfer some of the writer’s passion about the book and the author, along with intelligently chosen and argued points to underline the passion. This was the first criterion.
The second was that the review persuaded us to go and read the book. The BookFoxes are a loud and shouty bunch when we get our dander up, so we want to publish reviews that show the writer has the oomph and energy to hold their own amongst us, and has definite opinions we’re willing to listen to.
So we chose a winner, and a runner-up. The winner, by a country mile, was Dylan Plung, whose review of Cormac McCarthy’s All The Pretty Horses will be posted on Wednesday. The runner-up was Alan Parker, whose review of Ted Hughes’ Collected Poems will be posted in the next week or so, once he’s stopped moving house. (He’s clearly taken the VL modus operandi seriously.) Both reviews caused much comment in the Den along the lines of ‘well, I’d never normally have considered reading that but now I might …’, which was a very good sign.
Cue round of applause!