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The Curfew (Vintage Contemporaries)by Jesse Ball
Synopses & Reviews
William and Molly lead a life of small pleasures, riddles at the kitchen table, and games of string and orange peels. All around them a city rages with war. When the uprising began, William's wife was taken, leaving him alone with their young daughter. They keep their heads down and try to remain unnoticed as police patrol the streets, enforcing a curfew and arresting citizens. But when an old friend seeks William out, claiming to know what happened to his wife, William must risk everything. He ventures out after dark, and young Molly is left to play, reconstructing his dangerous voyage, his past, and their future. An astounding portrait of fierce love within a world of random violence, The Curfew is a mesmerizing feat of literary imagination.
"'GOOD CITIZENS SPEND THEIR NIGHTS ABED.' So goes the edict of Ball's unsettling new novel (after The Way Through Doors). Set in the city of C, a dystopic near-future Chicago, William Drysdale and his mute eight-year-old daughter, Molly, attempt to keep their heads down in a dangerous city of murders, suspicious neighbors, and a network of secret police. The shadowy government imposes a mercurial nightly curfew; musical performances have been outlawed, weekends abolished. Drysdale, a former virtuoso violinist, now works as an epitaphorist, helping others write their epitaphs. Ball divides his slim novel into two parts, the first dealing with William's search for his disappeared wife and a growing counterrevolutionary movement. The second details a phantasmagorical puppet show conducted by Molly that explores her parents' past and future. Written in clipped and brutal prose that shares the page with a lot of white space, the compelling narrative is buoyed by nuanced characters, but ultimiately lacks punch. Still, Ball's ideas and heart make this a very compelling read. (June)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"One of the more dynamic young American writers to emerge in the last few years." The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
"An extraordinary godsend, offering a new gift in every line." The Believer
"Written with a flawless, compassionate ear." Los Angeles Times
"There is a hushed and elegiac quality to this nocturne of a nove....Ball possesses a remarkably mythic sensibility, achieving a spare yet merciful mode that brings Borges, Calvino, and Simic to mind. Solemn beauty, beguiling invention, and unnerving insights into insidious tyranny and terror and depthless sorrow make for a haunting dystopian tale." Booklist
About the Author
Jesse Ball is a poet and novelist. His novels include The Way Through Doors (2009) and Samedi the Deafness (2007), which was a finalist for the Believer Book Award. He has published books of poetry and prose, The Village on Horseback (2010), Vera & Linus (2006), March Book (2004). A book of his drawings, Og svo kom nottin, appeared in Iceland in 2006. He won the Paris Review's Plimpton Prize in 2008 for The Early Deaths of Lubeck, Brennan, Harp & Carr. His poetry has appeared in the Best American Poetry series. He is an assistant professor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and teaches classes on lying, lucid dreaming and general practice.
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