Evan's Reviews > The Curfew

The Curfew by Jesse Ball
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's review
Oct 29, 2011

really liked it
Read in October, 2011

Insofar as Ball's originality is more than superficial, this novel is experimental fiction. Yes, it challenges typical expectations of novelistic narrative and mixes tone in ways often jarring. I'm now reading Ball's earlier compilation of texts, 'The Village on Horseback," which so far I am finding considerably less successful in this regard. There's a thin line between ambiguity that evokes rich mystery and mere perversity of incoherence.

Oddly, it felt like reading my own autobiography in the form of a cautionary parable. Doesn't hurt that the protagonist is a violinist suppressed by an authoritarian state, whose story is ultimately told in a private puppet show. Stylistically, it's something like a mix of the early Aimee Bender (Girl in the Flammable Skirt) and Kafka. Most reviewers appear to imagine it set elsewhere, amidst the typical Soviet era martial law perhaps. I prefer to see in it a somewhat heightened vision of the collapse of American civilization, akin in that respect to McCarthy's The Road.

Take this description, for example, from early in the novel: "An ordinary nation, full of ordinary citizens, their concerns, difficulties, cruelties, injustices, had gone to sleep one night and woken the next morning to find in the place of the old government an invisible state, with its own concerns, difficulties, cruelties, injustices. Everything was strictly controlled and maintained, so much so that it was possible, within certain bounds, to pretend that nothing had changed at all. What had overthrown it? Why? Such things weren't clear at all, just as it wasn't entirely clear that anything had been overthrown. It was as if a curtain had been drawn and one could see to that curtain but not beyond. One remembered that the world had been different and not long ago. But how?"

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Alex Fovell awful.

Insofar as.. more than superficial


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