Reviews · writing

Review: 5 Stars to ‘The Fox’s Tower and Other Tales’ by Yoon Ha Lee

The Fox's Tower and Other TalesThe Fox’s Tower and Other Tales by Yoon Ha Lee

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“Sometimes it’s about thunder, and sometimes it’s about the pale horses who thrash the sea into storm, and sometimes it’s about gunfire opening your heart.”

* * *

Sometimes you find the treatment for a pain you didn’t even know you had. Sometimes you don’t even realize how hungry or thirsty you are until you’re nourished again.

You can very much be hungry for words. The past year was a very hard one in my life, and I think that’s quickly becoming a universal statement. I’m tired, in pain, and easily discouraged. I knew this. I didn’t know how much I needed to read something that quenched, satisfied and reminded me beautiful things exist in the world.

I’ve never read a microfiction compilation before, by the same author or otherwise. I’m not sure whether starting here is a good thing or not – and not because of any problem with the book itself. Quite the opposite. The Fox’s Tower often reads like a poetry collection, writing so lyrical and intricate I feel like anything I read after this will seem minimalist by comparison. I need to remember not to judge/compare anything against it, because it’s so much its own genre… and a hard act to follow!

I’ve been trying to choose a favorite mini-story, and I can’t. Single lines stand out – “angels come to her when their wings want mending.” “She had not found the heartsease she sought amid those great and grim treasures, but she had found the one she had brought with her from the very beginning.”

I’ve thought about these for days after finishing. And I’ve found I can’t think of one without contemplating/appreciating all of them together.

These stories build a world. They’re like shining threads in the same gorgeous tapestry. The whole they create is something transcendent. And inclusive, easily and gracefully. Gender, sexuality, pronouns, these things simply are. Identity threads are important, of course, but they make up the weaving of a much larger and more elaborate whole.

I needed these. Not just words of beauty, but words of hope and reassurance. It’s not outright stated “there are still good things in the world, still magic, still reasons to live in it.” It doesn’t need to be. Some things simply shift your experience, give you strength by virtue of existing.

Sometimes, a beautiful dream is the thing that wakes you up, and reminds you of all the things you didn’t know you forgot, and never want to live without again.

“Above all things, a dragon is a state of mind.”

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