Emotional Foxfire

Foxfire is a lovely name for light emitted by certain species of fungi. This bioluminescence is the result of a chemical reaction between two compounds, and ranges from dim to fairly bright. It has been the inspiration for folklore, and referred to in classics such as the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.


According to Wikipedia, Ben Franklin suggested its use as a light source in the first submarine. Can you imagine? I have an image of the pilot casting furtive glances at it and mumbling the Lord’s Prayer.


Years ago I had the good fortune of seeing foxfire while camping in the Appalachian mountains. Patches of greenish-white light glowed on decaying wood up the hill from our tent. It was surreal seeing light in an otherwise pitch-dark forest, and easy to see why our ancestors attributed it to fairies!


Let’s switch from folklore to metaphor. What if we called the magic that happens between a reader and a story foxfire? In other words, an emotional reaction that lights the reader up with joy, tears, laughter, anger, tension, or hope?  The stronger the reaction, the brighter the foxfire.


I recently read a novel that lit me up from the first chapter: CALLING ME HOME, by debut author Julie Kibler. The story follows an elderly white woman, Isabelle, and her good friend and hairdresser—a young black woman named Dorrie—as they drive cross country to a funeral. Kibler does an admirable job of weaving present and past as Isabelle shares the story of discovering her one true love, and the subsequent consequences that shaped her life. Dorrie has troubles of her own weighing heavily on her mind as they drive eastward.


I experienced plenty of emotional foxfire with issues such as racism, bigotry, and forbidden love. There were also many poignant moments between Isabelle and Dorrie as they navigate a journey as well as a new level of friendship. 


I highly recommend this page-turner with its unforgettable characters. You have my guarantee that your own foxfire will be blazing by the end...and will continue to glow for days.





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Comments: 2
  • #1

    Julie Kibler (Thursday, 21 March 2013 22:45)

    Cindy, thank you for this lovely review and sending me the link. The concept of foxfire is fascinating, and I feel flattered and humbled that you compared your reaction to Calling Me Home to experiencing this phenomenon. Wow! Thanks so much for reading the book and spreading the word! --Julie

  • #2

    Cindy Angell Keeling (Friday, 22 March 2013 11:00)

    My pleasure, Julie. I'm honored you stopped by!