Excerpt from Confessions of the Fox by Jordy Rosenberg, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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Confessions of the Fox

by Jordy Rosenberg

Confessions of the Fox by Jordy Rosenberg X
Confessions of the Fox by Jordy Rosenberg
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  • First Published:
    Jun 2018, 352 pages

    Paperback:
    Mar 2019, 352 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Kate Braithwaite
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All that first day, Jack did his Thames-trick. He had no other choice against the Terror of the chain. He sent himself floating to cool Depths — morph'd his heartbeat into the thrum of deep water. He'd never had to stay under for so long — but his confinement was so relentless, Kneebone's ownership of him so total — not just his Body, but all his Capacities, all his Potentialities, too — that going Deep was his only option.

This trick, as it turned out, was help'd immensely by working with the wood. For Jack was an ace craftsman with an uncanny understanding of the natural properties of architecture and materials. The way a sill rests inside the groove of a Wall was something magnetizing and soothing to his Attention. As was how to sculpt around a particularly recalcitrant knot in a hunk of oak. Or the cool skin of iron, or how much pressure a walnut board could take, how much torquing a birch plank would endure.

All this had Jack demonstrat'd through the constant Storm of Kneebone's droning — a stinking stream on and on, only occasionally about how to craft wood. More largely a cascade of Tangents and opinions about the horrors of poverty — how it "breeds contagion like an overzealous sow." It seem'd Kneebone considered himself an amateur Doctor. He bragg'd that he'd read a great number of medical textbooks. Commoners—belching "sweaty winds" and "stenchy secretions"—were, according to him, prime vectors of Disorder.

"I've saved you from a diseased life lived amongst the diseased," Kneebone said, as he toss'd a moldy bun smeared with rancid butter at Jack for his morning meal when it was nigh on noon. "Saved you from that Mob" — he gestured with his head towards the window and the street beyond — "that Mob that threatens the Publick's Health at every turn."


At Nightfall, Kneebone unlocked him from the table and ushered him into the dining room. Lady Kneebone again instructed Jack to prepare and dole out the supper. It seemed the other servant had indeed expir'd.

After the pair had stuffed down their repast, Kneebone escorted him upstairs.

Bent over him. Latched his ankle to the bedpost — went to the door and stood there — Why wasn't he leaving?

Kneebone was nailing something to the inside of the door.

"To study on." He gestured at the tacked-up parchment when he was done. "For learning your letters."

Kneebone read aloud, his finger tracing the words as  he stood there like the pedagogical Father Jack had never had and frankly never wanted. His threadlike arms waved in the candlelight.

AN ACT FOR THE PREVENTION OF FUGITIVE LABORERS

A Rogue or Vagrant is defined as:

1)     all Persons wandering abroad and lodging in barns, outhouses, and deserted and unoccupied buildings, or in carts or wagons, not having any visible means of subsistence, and not giving a good account of themselves;

2)      all Common Players of Interludes, Minstrels, Jugglers; all Persons wand'ring in the Habit or Form of counterfeit Egyptians, or pretending to have skill in Physiognomy, Palmistry, or like crafty Science, or pretending to tell Fortunes, or using any subtle Craft, or unlawful Games or Plays;

3)      all Persons able in Body, who run away, and leave their Wives or Children to the Parish, and not having wherewith otherwise to maintain themselves ... and refuse to work for the usual and common Wages;

4)     and all other idle Persons wand'ring abroad and begging shall be deemed Rogues and Vagabonds and remanded to gaol or returned to their master, with the period of service doubled.

"So you see, when you leave the house, you'll be subject to arrest unless you've got a master's note." Kneebone worked his thin lips back and forth. Turned and clicked the door shut.

Excerpted from Confessions of the Fox by Jordy Rosenberg. Copyright © 2018 by Jordy Rosenberg. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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