I almost feel like I’m not smart enough to review this book. Don’t get me wrong, I liked it a lot! But I just don’t think I’m up to the task of pulling it apart for meaning, which it is practically begging you to do. And yet, what I like about it is how unpretentious it is.
Confessions of the Fox is a piece of historical fiction that tells the story of Jack Sheppard, infamous thief and renegade, who is also a folk hero. The book is told in two parts, a frame story involving an academic who has found a manuscript that purports to tell the true story of Jack Sheppard, and which is mostly told in footnotes, and the “manuscript” itself. (Jack Sheppard is based on Macheath, or Mack the Knife, from The Beggar’s Opera and The Threepenny Opera.) The catch here is that both Dr. Voth, our present day character, and Jack are trans men. The author is also trans. It is a story by and about trans people, about transness. It is also extremely meta. The footnotes get rather existential, but I really enjoyed them. Most of the references made are to real scholarship that you can read yourself! This is also a bit of a satire, as there is a plot involving the corporatization of Dr. Voth’s university.