Fog A Dox
Magabala Books, 2012.
"A story of courage, acceptance and respect," Magabala Books rightly claims of masterful storyteller Bruce Pascoe's latest YA novel, Fog A Dox. Set in the Australian bush of southwest Victoria and written in Pascoe's captivating bush vernacular, the story begins with Albert, an old woodsman ("tree feller") who brings home three orphaned baby foxes, then coaxes his Dingo mix dog, Brim, to nurse them along with her own pups.
A dox is supposedly a fox-dog mix, although the species don't actually interbreed. Fog, who stays behind with Albert when his siblings grow up and go wild, is a dox by temperament: he thinks he's a dog. He proves his canine-like loyalty one day when Albert is badly injured in the bush and Brim is home by the fire. Fog brings Alfred his lunchbox, then puzzles out that he should leave his master and get shy Dave to the accident site. Dave carries his by-then unconscious friend several kilometers to Albert's cousin's house, where, in a dramatic scene, the two men take Albert by horseback over a ridge in fierce weather to the district hospital. As Albert recuperates, he befriends Maria, a bright little girl with terminal leukemia and a terrified, overprotective mother. He and Dave are able to grant Maria's fondest wish--to visit Albert's home in the bush, see for real the wildlife she's known only on the Discovery channel, and even go fishing.
Pascoe's narration, by turns tender, humorous, and thrilling, would earn any child's approbation, but the deeper delights of this book are his use of language and descriptions of animals, including their thinking process. Brim has learned to count, at least one, two and lotsa:
"Brim looked up at Albert and sniffed the awful scent of fox and ducked her head down to nuzzle her pups to check that they had not been harmed by the dreadful presence of foxes. How many foxes? Lotsa foxes. She was too annoyed to count them, there was lotsa foxes and she didn't care for them one bit."
Prize-winning author, editor and publisher Bruce Pascoe has written over twenty books, including a dictionary of the Wathaurong language. In Fog A Dox, he brings warmly to life the compassion, self-reliance, and eccentricity of Aussie bush folk and animals.