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The Curfew

3.73  ·  Rating details ·  1,262 ratings  ·  218 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 citi ...more
Paperback, 195 pages
Published June 14th 2011 by Vintage Contemporaries (first published January 1st 2011)
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3.73  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,262 ratings  ·  218 reviews

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Jul 17, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: team-america
I'm being a bit tough on this book with only three stars, but I think that's a solid rating. Problem is I kept comparing this in my head to Herta Müller's masterpiece, The Land of Green Plums. Both books are minimalist, with short sections. Both books take place in police states, where paranoia is a way of life. And there's even in a similarity in the tone.

But Müller's novel is work of poetic genius, while Ball's spare approach veers a bit more towards postmodernism. I cared deeply about Müller'
Jul 22, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Toque de queda es una novela distópica, pero distinta. Sí es cierto que toma muchos elementos clásicos del género (más que nada, el tema del gobierno totalitario, que controla todo pero los ciudadanos no saben quiénes son los policías y quiénes no; todo es confuso), pero lo interesante del trabajo de Jesse Ball es la manera en que logra plasmar esa historia en la novela.

La trama gira en torno a la vida de William y su hija Molly. William es violinista, pero ha tenido que dejar de tocar por
Lindo librito, quizás no demasiado memorable. Es una distopía escrita de forma poética. La temática en sí se me hizo medio anticuada: gobierno totalitario, estado de sitio, nadie sabe quién es policía y quién no. Quizás sólo porque pienso en los clásicos que leí de adolescente, 1984, Un mundo feliz, etc y la verdad no sé si es un género que se sigue escribiendo y de qué forma, pero en fin, me queda la sensación de que quiere dar con la problemática del presente y no lo logra. Aunque quizás lo qu ...more
Oct 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
La primera pregunta que me surge es: ¿cómo leer a un autor extranjero que impreca de cierta manera la historia de nosotros como argentinos?

William es un escritor de epitafios que tiene como hija a Molly, una niña muda e inteligente. Viven en una sociedad gobernada por un sistema totalitario y expandido al punto de no saber diferenciarlo de otras cosas. Nunca sabemos como lectores, menos como personajes, quiénes son agentes del gobierno y quiénes no. Hay personas que mueren con disparos sin saber
To begin: When the publisher claims at the end of their synopsis that Jesse Ball’s “The Curfew is a mesmerizing feat of literary imagination,” you may think it an excitable exaggeration. It isn’t. Nor is Minneapolis Star-Tribune’s observation that “There seems to be no other novelist writing today who is capable of so thoroughly disarming one’s narrative expectations.” Writers and Readers alike: prepare to be equally intimidated and inspired.

Those who have read Jesse Ball–and adore him, I would
Jul 26, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
Minimalist, poetic, Kafkaesque, pretentious. A short novel, not really even a novella, but it its brevity it tells a large story. Jesse Ball gives you the outline, images, ideas, and tools from which you flesh out the story with your own experiences and reading, a pretty neat trick. Two elements of The Curfew made a strong impression on me: William's secondary occupation (which he took up after society became a police state and the curfew was imposed -- he had been a concert violinist before mus ...more
Aug 02, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I think I've been hesitant to include Jesse Ball near the top of the list of my favorite authors only because he's so young. Part of it is definitely the fact that, so far, we have only a limited library to choose from. But with The Curfew, his third novel, I can finally cave and claim Ball as a favorite. The Way Through Doors, novel #2, is one of the best books I've ever read, and with The Curfew as a follow up, Ball has proven himself to be a mind apart, crafting beautiful, bizarre, and though ...more
David Yoon
Sep 16, 2012 rated it really liked it
The Curfew is a quick read, I finished it in a single sitting.
Jesse Ball is a poet. His work of prose is filled with empty spaces and Ball manages to evoke a great deal of feeling with sparse lines. The puppet show is beautifully realized and satisfyingly resolved. Maybe it's the brevity of the work, the concentration of so much in such a thin volume, but I find that I can't help but keep thinking about the story. It would make a great book club read as it invites so much in the interpretation.
Mar 26, 2015 rated it it was ok
Recommended to Lobstergirl by: James Wood
Shelves: fiction

Personally I'm glad to see experimental, postmodernist fiction like this get some affection from reviewers, (view spoiler). The protagonists, a 29-year old widowed father and his 8-year old mute daughter (or is she 9? on one page she's 8, a few pages later we're told she's 9...), have the makings of characters you could get attached to, if the novel were longer, but it's extremely short. The dystopic setting is objectively horrifying, but again there's so lit
Sep 02, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Leí este libro hace un par de meses y decidí no calificarlo hasta terminar de procesar lo que me dejó su lectura.
La historia de Toque de queda transcurre en la ciudad C. en una realidad distópica, podríamos decir. El gobierno es totalitario; los ministerios y la policía, invisibles. Nadie sabe con certeza quiénes están al mando.
Dentro de este clima "kafkiano" están William y Molly. Él es un violinista retirado que se dedica a escribir epitafios porque, desde que existe el toque de queda, está pr
Sep 26, 2013 rated it liked it
Dreamy, minimalist totalitarian state lit. Sometimes has the scent of Paul Auster around the edges but with a more self-concious attachment to formal experiment. It's told in fragments, which generally works for me, but I found some of the novel's individual shards and pieces greater than the sum of its parts.
Jun 18, 2011 rated it it was amazing
holy fucking shit the goddamn asshole
Aug 21, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
After reading his other two books, The Way Through Doors and Samedi the Deafness, a few years ago, I was ready to declare Jesse Ball my favorite living author and eagerly awaited his next book. The Curfew, is Ball's third novel and it does not disappoint. This story is set in a dystopian police state and follow a (forcefully) retired violinist turned epitaphorist, William, and his young mute daughter, Molly. William finds out that an old friend may have some information about the disappearance o ...more
Cenhner Scott
A ver.
El argumento es más o menos este: en la ciudad C hay toque de queda y quien lo viola es asesinado. No hay mucha más explicación que esa, ni para lector ni para los habitantes de C. Hay un hombre cuya mujer desapareció hace un tiempo y ahora cría él sólo a su hija muda. Un día le dicen que alguien tiene información sobre el paradero de su mujer, pero tiene que violar el toque de queda para encontrarse con ese alguien. Esa noche deja a su hija a cuidado de unos vecinos y va a buscar esa inf
Mar 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing
5+ out of 5.

This one is meant for a warm cup of something nice by a window on a crisp, clear autumn Sunday. I know I say that about a lot of things, but believe me on this one: there's just something in the prose, in the feeling of the story, that makes me think that that's a perfect way to read it. This is, on its surface, a simple story - totalitarian, a historical European feel, a father and daughter struggling in the face of unknowable entities larger than they... but with Jesse Ball, nothi
Oct 18, 2012 rated it did not like it
Shelves: disappointment
This was a novella really - pages sparse and book very short.
Which is why I finished it.

I kept thinking - this has got to change.

It's one of those books that is written in such as way as to make the reader think there is more than meets the eye - but it is smoke and mirrors. Granted, there are a few well spaced philosophical truths thrown throughout - and it is symbolic. But just not good enough or consistent enough to create any sort of train of thought or overall development.
Lisa Beaulieu
Mar 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 24, 2019 rated it liked it
Jul 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Lo leí en una hora y media, de corrido, sin parar.

Fue el mejor libro que leí en el año, sin dudas.

Una distopia que no es tal, ya que muestra un poco lo que vivimos los argentinos en la época de la dictadura. Es duro, triste y lleno de sentimientos. Ball te va llevando desde cosas simples y hasta entretenidas a un final crudo y desgarrador.

Absolutamente maravilloso.

Soy Diseñador Gráfico y no puedo dejar de destacar la belleza en el trato que recibió este libro por parte de la bestia equilatera
Suad Shamma
Nov 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018, own
This book left me confused, but touched all the same. The prose was beautifully done, and Jesse Ball was really able to leave his mark on me.

You immediately know that this is dystopian novel, but you're never really sure what's happening. Are they at war? How far back is this happening? Or how far into the future does this take place? Who or what is ruling? You never really know, and it is never revealed. All we know, as readers, is that there is a curfew, and if you are found roaming the stree
Jul 20, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Un buen libro sobre las ataduras masivas que la vida en sociedad le impone al individuo en el mundo actual. La condición humana es gregaria. La manera de organizarnos, sin embargo, pareciera que es un problema insoluble. El Estado moderno puede ser más democrático o menos democrático, pero nunca deja de ser violento. Esta violencia, sin embargo, se vuelve sangrienta en los totalitarismos. Toque De Queda es un libro que puede leerse en varios niveles según mi parecer. Pienso que no se refiere sól ...more
Toque de queda gira alrededor de un padre y una hija viviendo en un mundo distópico, donde un gobierno tan autoritario como invisible vigila a la población, controlando sus movimientos y castigando sus infracciones. El nuevo régimen busca que los ciudadanos vivan dominados por el miedo, sin hacer preguntas tanto del presente como del pasado.

Pero resulta imposible dejar de pensar en el pasado. Hay huecos, espacios en blanco en las historias de los personajes que estos desean llenar, pese a la imp
Jun 06, 2011 rated it really liked it
Some books get described as “rich with detail.” “The Curfew” is not one of those — it’s the opposite. But that’s good. Jesse Ball has a gift for conveying the complexities of a scary new world in remarkably few words.
The story takes place on a single day in an unnamed city in a not-very-pleasant-sounding future, a police state of unwritten rules, violent deaths and abrupt disappearances. The curfew referred to in the title is vague, but menacingly real: “The government’s official word on the mat
Dec 15, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Q: Good book?
A: Good book!

Q: Really good book?
A: Really good book! And short!

Q: Not too short?
A: No! Just the right length! Like that episode of Twin Peaks in the black lodge where you learn who killed Laura Palmer. This book reminded me of David Lynch, btw.

Q: David Lynch? Without images or music? I won't believe it.
A: No, seriously. Here's a demonstrative passage:

A young woman with a very short skirt and a thin blouse came out of a building in the distance. Because she was so beautiful, he sa
Deron Denton
Jan 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
This thin novella is a sparse, minimalist and haunting read about a father living with his mute daughter in a totalitarian police state after wife/mom has gone missing.

The main character is a former accomplished violinist who is now an "epitaphist." He helps people come up with "acceptable" phrases to put on the tombstones of loved ones, without raising the suspicions of authorities. And business is booming.

Most people (Jeannie, Aaron: I am looking at you!) would probably blow through it in an
Mar 30, 2013 rated it it was ok
What happened? Not much and yet a lot.

Did I enjoy the book? Not much.

Did I put the book down even though I was not enjoying it? No.

Do I know what happened? Not really. That said, I hardly cared about most of the characters enough to care about what ultimately happened. The exception being the daughter but one could assume she stayed with the puppeteer and go back to not caring all that much.

With very few words, lots of white space and use of mystery, the author is able to describe a life of l
Jul 18, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, owned
The Curfew is about the individual's, the family's and the larger community's, struggle to maintain control in a world that is ultimately out of our control. The Curfew is a novel written by a poet with spare, lyrical, insightful writing. There is no shortage of lines to savor and repeat in one's head or aloud.

There is a wonderful recent interview with the author: I especially found illuminating:

"Jesse Ball: We’re all put in to difficult circumstances in
Mar 18, 2012 rated it really liked it
As I loved Ball's The Way Through Doors I decided to read everything the guy has written. While The Way Through Doors was a Lynchian mind**** this book was a straight up gut punch. I was very quickly emotionally involved with the relationship between the father and his daughter Molly. Maybe it's because I'm a parent now and I couldn't imagine trying to raise my son without my wife but this book really hit hard. It's the tale of a man trying to raise his daughter in a dystopian future, where his ...more
Jun 02, 2011 rated it it was ok
I sort of complained that Ball's prior novel, The Way Through Doors, was treacly, so I don't really have grounds to whine that this one is a stone cold bummer. It's an odd complaint especially given that I usually love distopias. I think, though, that my problem is rooted in the dissonance between the gravity of the Curfew's themes and plot, and the persistant cutesy-wootsiness of Ball's prose. Even with its subject matter of invisible violence, state hegemony, death, and rememberance, The Curfe ...more
Aug 08, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: fans of Dr. Seuss and the secret police
Shelves: 2011
This book is like you were walking along on a grey day, picked up a rock and living underneath that rock was a whimsical alternative universe. Seussian ideas within the confines of human characters. Even with all the whimsey though, it is still essentially a universe living underneath a rock and all that entails. Epitath-ists, riddles and puppets nestled up against the Stasi, so to speak.

It took a few pages to get into the alternative format of the book and I really enjoyed that some pages had
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Total spoiler question 1 4 Mar 20, 2017 01:11PM  
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Jesse Ball (1978-) Born in New York. The author of fourteen books, most recently, the novel How To Set a Fire and Why. His prizewinning works of absurdity have been published to acclaim in many parts of the world and translated into more than a dozen languages. The recipient of the Paris Review's Plimpton Prize, as well as fellowships from the NEA, the Heinz foundation, and others, he is on the fa ...more
“…There are times when something is asked of us, and we find we must do it. There is no calculation involved, no measure of the necessity of the thing itself, the action that must be performed. There is simply an acknowledgment that we will do the thing in question, and then the thing is done, often at considerable personal cost. "

"What goes into these decisions? What tiny factors, invisible, in the jutting edges of personality and circumstance, contribute to this inevitability?”
“I'm an elephant today. I will need to have lots of room and also a bowl of water on the floor.” 15 likes
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