cover image A Dance for Emilia

A Dance for Emilia

Peter S. Beagle. Roc, $14.95 (87pp) ISBN 978-0-451-45800-1

Beagle's newest (after Tasmin, 1999) is a charming reflection on dreams and the afterlife set in modern-day Manhattan. Unambitious actor Jake Holtz, who narrates, is introduced to the profound as the spirit of his best friend, dancer Sam Kagan, possesses the body of his female Abyssinian cat, Millamant, two years after Sam's death. Sam stuns his former lover, Emilia Rossi, and Jake by practicing leaps and pirouettes that were once impossible for his less flexible human body. Switching fluidly from past to present, Beagle charts Jake's friendship with Sam, from childhood on, in concise yet lyric prose. This book is brief, but it presents a wealth of impressive ruminations on love, longing and the power of the bonds between people. From its opening pages, a sullenly beautiful mood permeates the narrative and lingers throughout Jake's sobering reflections and witty dialogue. Despite his inclusion of the ethereal, Beagle successfully illuminates: ""Not facts, but the accuracy under and around and beyond facts. Not a recital of events not even honestyDbut truth."" (Oct.)