Wistful Riddles: The Curfew by Jesse Ball

I have a review of the latest novel by Jesse Ball in the new issue of The L Magazine. It's a magnificent book that I highly recommend, full of a whimsy that eschews preciousness (which I think I say in the review, so I'm repeating myself). It's like The Road if it were written to be directed by Jeunet—less bleak, but possibly more heartbreaking. Lots of writers (including me) wish they wrote like Ball, who is possibly our best young postmodern fabulist.

Scattered within the novel are self-contained parables, such as one about a stunning woman who “wore her beauty carelessly” but had to walk a particular way in order to conceal a deformity. There is something that feels not so antiquated but timeless, to the point that an otherwise trivial detail like a plane flying overhead stands out for placing the story in the modern era. The book is such a pleasurable read, the type you devour in a sitting.

Final note: fiction too often squanders the poetic potential of visual presentation, but Ball has lots of fun with form and type, filling some pages with only a few large, evocative words, and ultimately presenting storytelling and imagination as absolutely essential affirmations of life, language as memory and tribute.

"There wasn't anything that tied life's moments together, except life. And when it was gone?"

"Your trials will one day finish. You are young and will outlive your torturers."


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