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Foxfire: Confessions of a Girl Gang Paperback – August 1, 1994

72 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Oates depicts a gang of five adolescent girls growing up amidst violence and frustration in upstate New York during the 1950s.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

$21. F 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. Highly recommended.
- Janet Wilson Reit, Univ. of Vermont Lib., Burlington
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 328 pages
  • Publisher: Plume (August 1, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0452272319
  • ISBN-13: 978-0452272316
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (72 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #321,901 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Joyce Carol Oates is the author of more than 70 books, including novels, short story collections, poetry volumes, plays, essays, and criticism, including the national bestsellers We Were the Mulvaneys and Blonde. Among her many honors are the PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in Short Fiction and the National Book Award. Oates is the Roger S. Berlind Distinguished Professor of the Humanities at Princeton University, and has been a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters since 1978.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Miss D. AwesomePants on May 12, 2002
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I knew that the film (Starring Angelina Jolie and Jenny Shimizu... yum!) version was based LOOSELY on this book - but i didn't realize HOW loosely! The book is 1,000,000 times better than the movie. The characters are more real (not 5 very attractive girls being a little "naughty"), the acts of rebellion more extreme, the setting (small blue collar town in New York State, 1950's) more appropriate... and it's just all more compelling. The novel really helps you get into the mindset of the sisterhood of the gang - and is more racey. Everything was toned down for the film, and loses a lot of the intensity.
Even if you didn't like the film - you should check out this book. It exhibits some female rebellion in a time/place where women could hardly expect the respect that FOXFIRE demands.
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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Archimago on December 14, 1999
Format: Paperback
Oates' novel begins with a furious pace and never lets up. The prose mirrors the feeling and the action of the novel -- fast-paced, raw and vibrant. Legs Sadovsky is one of the most memorable characters I have encountered in a long time -- a complex character that needs another book! I read this book in one sitting because I just couldn't stop reading. I had to find our what happened to Foxfire and Legs and why these girls ended up separating. The way Oates develops the chracterization of the gang, as if it were a character itself, is fantastic. We watch the gang go from petty vandalism to violence and prostitution, and the whole way we can understand why they have made the choices they do. I felt for these characters and never once thought they went too far, even their final act which seals their fate.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Ellis Bell VINE VOICE on July 26, 2004
Format: Paperback
When I read Foxfire four years ago, I became a Joyce Carol Oates fanatic. That didn't change when I read it again just recently. Its appeal is the girl gang idea- about the power struggles that each of the five girls as they move through adolescence. Legs Sadowsky is a troubled young girl who brings four others together in ways they never thought possible. Oates has a marvelous way with words, in which you are horrified yet at the same time fascinated by all that happens. Legs makes for a marvelous, beautiful character in that way. The girls are brutal to one another, and harsh to an outside world, which has, in a way, rejected them. In the end, the girls have to make decisions about growing up that affect each other and, inevitably, the outside world. Its a sexy, sad, and thought-provoking book that I couldn't put down.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By John Conner on December 14, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
FOXFIRE by Joyce Carol Oates is a haunting tale of the relationships developed among groups of outcasts and "leftovers," marginalized by the established mainstream. The subtitle is "Confessions of a Girl Gang," and that is exactly what is told. The story is set in upstate New York but could be anywhere in American suburbia. The group of girls gang together, at first out of circumstance, then survival, and finally love. Despite the mostly pathetic personality of the characters, they become endearing and fit nicely into the world Oates has created. I hesitate to recommend FOXFIRE to those unfamiliar with Oates' pastiche narrative style and penchant for (mostly mild) violence in her stories, but this did grip me and I considered it a "page turner."

The movie version is only loosely based on the novel, with more differences than similarities. Even with the successful cult following, which is at least partly due to Angelina Jolie's subsequent fame, the book outshines the movie's comparative mediocrity.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Cassie W. on August 11, 2005
Format: Paperback
Upstate New York is a territory well-explored by Oates, and in FOXFIRE: CONFESSIONS OF A GIRL GANG, she again triumphs in creating another highly original, compelling story about the working class section of the state. In FOXFIRE, she tells the story of a group of teenage girls growing up during the 1950s. There are five to begin with: Legs Sadovsky, enigmatic founder and leader of the gang, and Maddy "Monkey" Wirtz, the gang's official recorder, among them. They start out merely as a group of young women rebelling against authority, vandalizing property and going for joyrides in stolen cars. But gradually, as their gang grows in numbers, the girls are driven to further acts of violence; it seems to almost become an obsession for them, and it isn't long before they're in over their heads. Events follow that will force the girls to face the consequences of their actions--actions that will end Foxfire, their beloved girl gang, forever.

At the center of this cumpulsively readable story is Maddy, Oates' narrator, who has unearthed her old Foxfire notebooks years after the end of the gang. Maddy tells the story of the young women who shaped her teenage years feverishly, passionately, as if the story of Foxfire is one that she has no choice but to tell. Her narrative is fluid, fragmented, and rushed, told in a distinctive voice--a voice illuminated by Maddy's lost youth, a voice desperately in love with Maddy's lost Foxfire. Maddy's compelling narrative also nakedly reveals the character of Legs Sadovsky, Foxfire's indestructible and bold leader, a girl who, underneath layers of bravado, is just as lost as the girls she claims to protect.

The more JCO I read, the more convinced I become that she's a genius.
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