Tuesday, June 21, 2011

ladies and gentlemen...Mr. Jesse Ball

Jesse Ball (1978-)

I have been telling everyone I have met since reading Jesse Ball's Samedi the Deafness that he is my favorite American author alive. I know this is a bold statement but I was blown away by the absurd being so effortless and natural. You encounter the story and world that Ball creates without being told that things are not what they seem and that they will change in impossible ways but that you will have no problem accepting them.

The same was true for The Way Through Doors. I couldn't put it down. Then a coworker gave me a used copy of Vera & Linus, written and published by Ball and his wife Thordis Bjornsdottir. I contacted Jesse and made this my staff favorite. It was my favorite of all his books. It is dark and troublesome and wonderfully disturbing (it isn't available through our web site so call the store, we will get you a copy).

Then last week a wonderful thing happened...
The Curfew was released. I have already read this book twice and may read it again soon. It is truly magical. It is truly sad. I want to tell you all about it but this about Jesse Ball is the minute you start you want to tell the whole story like a folktale. You want to pass on the story to as many people as possible. It's just the way his stories reveal themselves to the reader.

So I will tell you only how it starts so that you will want to carry on:

We are born in this cemetery, but must not despair.
-Piet Soron, 1847


There was a great deal of shouting and then a shot. The window was wide open, for the weather was often quite fine and delicate during late summers in the city of C. Yes, the window was wide open and so the noise of the shot was loud, as though one of the two people in the room had decided to shoot a gun into the body of the other.

This was not the case, however. And because no one in the room itself had been shot, the man, William Drysdale, twenty-nine, once-violinist, epitaphorist, and his daughter Molly, eight, schoolchild, slept on.

Those were the methods of employment. Daily, Drysdale went about to appointments while Molly went to school and was told repeatedly to repeat things. She could not, and didn't.

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