Would you like to see the fox I shot this morning, he said, as he opened the gate in the wall.
This is a particular form of words. It is not a question. You do not say no. It appears to be polite – would you – but it leaves no room.
I went and saw the fox. Exquisite red creature. It does not know yet that it is dead. Its eye is not dim, its brush is defiant. Soon it will droop and decay and know its own mortality.
Shooting the Fox is both the title of the collection and of the first of the short stories therein. The cover and endpapers are both beautiful and like the content portray a mystical reality. The stories examine the human experience, through love and fidelity, marriage and adultery and more. Characters do not always behave well, stories do not always have happy endings. One story character converses with the writer and attempts to control their own narrative. Another plays with verbs and sentence structure. There are women in towers, women in thrall to dishonourable men, men and women with secrets. Settings range from tropical to European, remote to urban, contemporary to imaginary.
The cover of Shooting the Fox has a dreamy, ethereal quality to it, and this reflects the stories within. Which is not to say that the stories are light – they’re not. But even the most confronting subjects are handled with lightness and deftness. Halligan invites the reader to peek through the window at the lives of others, and provides the opportunity to imagine the world from a different perspective. From the first story where a 43 old virgin weds, to the final one which reimagines Australia, there is a surprise around every corner and a glimse of how others live and love.
Shooting the Fox, Marian Halligan
Allen & Unwin 2011
review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author