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The Emancipation of B

51t74yaOFSL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_By Jennifer Kavanagh. Roundfire Books, 2015. 138 pages. $13.95/paperback; $4.99/eBook.

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When I was a student of literature and theater, one of the important rules about characters was that they change over the course of the drama. Another was that the novelist or playwright must create a character that the audience will care about. Sometimes that means we root for them, and sometimes it means we want to see them caught and stopped. Either way, we care. In this slim novel, the character B is almost the only one we see, and he is usually alone. Oddly enough, I felt mostly curiosity about him, yet quite eager to keep turning the pages to see what he would do next. He does change (hence the title), but the reader gets a definite sense that it’s only the beginning. This novel is a testament to inward attention, as the odd character of B can only reach emancipation by going into and through practices of intense stillness. It would not surprise me if he declared that the Light had let him see his “thoughts and temptations,” as George Fox said, and that mercy, power, and strength “came in,” in Fox’s words again. Emancipation sounds like an apt word for the process.

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