Foxfire: Confessions of a Girl Gang

Foxfire: Confessions of a Girl Gang

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by Joyce Carol Oates
     
 

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The time is the 1950s. The place is a blue-collar town in upstate New York, where five high school girls are joined in a gang dedicated to pride, power, and vengeance on a world that seems made to denigrate and destroy them. Foxfire is Joyce Carol Oates’s strongest and most unsparing novel yet—an always engrossing, often shocking evocation of

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Overview

The time is the 1950s. The place is a blue-collar town in upstate New York, where five high school girls are joined in a gang dedicated to pride, power, and vengeance on a world that seems made to denigrate and destroy them. Foxfire is Joyce Carol Oates’s strongest and most unsparing novel yet—an always engrossing, often shocking evocation of female rage, gallantry, and grit. Here is the secret history of a sisterhood of blood, a haven from a world of male oppressors, marked by a liberating fury that burns too hot to last. Above all, it is the story of Legs Sadovsky, with her lean, on-the-edge, icy beauty, whose nerve, muscle, hate, and hurt make her the spark of Foxfire, its guiding spirit, its burning core. At once brutal and lyrical, this is a careening joyride of a novel—charged with outlaw energy and lit by intense emotion. Amid scenes of violence and vengeance lies this novel’s greatest power: the exquisite, astonishing rendering of the bonds that link the Foxfire girls together. Foxfire reaffirms Joyce Carol Oates’s place at the very summit of American writing.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Brilliant … Foxfire burns brightly … exhilarating."
New York Times Book Review

"Wonderful, beautiful, a vivid novel."
Washington Post

"Profound … a riveting whirlwind of a novel."
Los Angeles Times

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
It was between the ages of thirteen and seventeen that I belonged to FOXFIRE and FOXFIRE made sacred those years.'' Madeleine Faith Wirtz narrates Oates's 22nd novel in first-person promiscuous, chronicling intimately the violent comings and goings of a communard and her female teenaged outfit: Foxfire, a gang set up in smalltown, upstate Hammond, N.Y., during the 1950s. Maddy and her four cohorts find strength in numbers. Together they assault and kill, their main victims being adult men who have have exploited them. The novel is written years afterward from the vantage point of skeptical adulthood when Maddy has gone respectable and looks over the notebooks she had kept during her Foxfire days. In the course of reminiscing, Maddy recovers the group's ardor, the sense of oppression and reckless abandon, and then tempers it. The novel is true to Oates and her oeuvre, revisiting some of the themes of her earliest work -- female delinquency and survival -- while seeking to expand the canvas into a group portrait. The author grittily evokes the hectic, heated power surges of self-taught feminist anarchists; in her prose she walks a delicate line between the raw and the literary, the wildly ignorant and the wisely knowing.
Library Journal
Oates, one of America's most distinguished and prolific writers, has triumphed again with this deftly crafted, highly imaginative novel about a girl gang called Foxfire and its leader, Legs Sadovsky. Legs is many things: a female Robin Hood, a Marxist revolutionary, a highly intelligent naif, an incredibly bold, indestructible heroine. Legs, who is wise beyond her years, dominates Foxfire with her superiority. But Legs is not a writer; that responsibility she delegates to Maddy Wirtz, who becomes the official chronicler of Foxfire's history. Later in life, in search of elusive truth, Maddy returns to her notebooks and relives her Foxfire days of the 1950s, a decade she and her female contemporaries (of all ages) experienced through violence, fear, and oppression. The forces that gave rise to Foxfire and the bonds that kept it together raise many interesting questions about gender, social status, and sexuality. As in any Oates novel, these multiple themes intertwine to create a richly textured piece.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780452272316
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
08/28/1994
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
336
Product dimensions:
5.32(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.72(d)
Lexile:
1520L (what's this?)
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
"Brilliant … Foxfire burns brightly … exhilarating."
— New York Times Book Review

"Wonderful, beautiful, a vivid novel."
Washington Post

"Profound … a riveting whirlwind of a novel."
Los Angeles Times

Meet the Author

In addition to many prize-winning and bestselling novels, including We Were the Mulvaneys, Black Water, and Because It Is Bitter and Because It Is My Heart (available in Plume editions), Joyce Carol Oates is the author of a number of works of gothic fiction including Haunted: Tales of the Grotesque (Plume), a 1995 World Fantasy Award nominee; and Zombie (Plume), winner of the 1996 Bram Stoker Award for Best Horror Novel, awarded by the Horror Writers' Association. In 1994, Oates received the Bram Stoker Lifetime Achievement Award in Horror Fiction. She is the editor of American Gothic Tales and her latest novel is Broke Heart Blues (Dutton). She lives in Princeton, New Jersey.

Brief Biography

Hometown:
Princeton, New Jersey
Date of Birth:
June 16, 1938
Place of Birth:
Lockport, New York
Education:
B.A., Syracuse University, 1960; M.A., University of Wisconsin, 1961

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