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The Curfew (Vintage Contemporaries) [Kindle Edition]

Jesse Ball
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $15.00
Kindle Price: $9.99
You Save: $5.01 (33%)
Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

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.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

Editorial Reviews


“One of the more dynamic young American writers to emerge in the last few years.” —The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Praise for The Way Through Doors:

“An extraordinary godsend, offering a new gift in every line.” —The Believer

“This novel . . . will mesmerize you.” —Chicago Tribune

“Written with a flawless, compassionate ear.” —Los Angeles Times

From the Trade Paperback edition.

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. 

Product Details

  • File Size: 181 KB
  • Print Length: 210 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0307739856
  • Publisher: Vintage (June 14, 2011)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004C43GE2
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #277,509 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Jesse Ball's third novel, "The Curfew," is not as ambitious, experimental, or beholden to metafictional devices as its predecessors. The new book is more accessible. Shorter too: Samedi the Deafness (Vintage Contemporaries) contains 279 pages of text; The Way Through Doors (Vintage Contemporaries), 228 pages; while the "The Curfew" flows fast at 193 pages. "Samedi" offered readers a hallucinatory cat-and-mouse game, and TWTD presented a whirling dervish of endless tales. A few readers found those books wearying. In contrast, "The Curfew" has at its heart an elemental story of protective love between a father and his eight-year-old daughter. You are likely to be genuinely moved.

That's not to say the author has jettisoned his signature interests. The things Ball does well in all his fiction he continues to do in "The Curfew." He gives readers permission to pay attention. He knows how to conjure up off-kilter and perilous environments (here, a military coup has reduced an American city to a condition of pervasive terror). As before, he relies less on the traditional moorings of the novel and more on his own bizarre and generous wit to propel the story. As usual, he trusts that the reader's own imagination similarly will rise to the occasion. He trusts in silence. He knows how to exploit the design of words on a page -- how the judicious use of empty space, insertions, and irruptions of very large type, can positively serve the story. He has a command of rhythm, which is not a surprise, as Ball is a poet too.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Jesse Ball does 1984- sort of- and it works. March 20, 2012
By Jex
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
What can you say about Jesse Ball? Fans of his can recognize his laconic prose from twenty paces. It's as distinctive as a fingerprint. With that said:

The value of Jesse Ball's "The Curfew" lies not in what it sates for readers, but what it frustrates. Like his previous "Samedi the Deafness," Ball sets "The Curfew" in an acid climate of domestic terrorism, but he never really looks that terrorism in the face. His is not a political bent. We don't know why the citizens in the city of C have a curfew. or what time it starts, or even if it is government-enforced. Only one thing is certain; someone enforces that curfew, whether it's the police or frightened citizens or some other entity, and if you're out at night, you're likely to forfeit your life.

Eight year-old Molly's father has just ventured out into the night and left her in danger of becoming an orphan by morning. She stays with her neighbors, who help her put on a puppet show to occupy her through his absence. The puppet show becomes a nesting-doll story within the larger account of Molly and her father, but unlike how these box-within-a-box stories usually go, when the puppet show ends, the entire novel ends. Ball doesn't give his protagonists any space to close the novel's circuits.

Therein lies the frustration Ball offers readers in "The Curfew", and also the story's strength. Our questions and speculation are all we have left by the final page, and they flood out of the book at large. Eventually, Ball's refusal to give a more satisfying end for the protagonists draws us back to the beginning of the novel.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Puppets August 19, 2011
Pick a sunny day to read Jesse Ball's latest novel, The Curfew. There's despair and darkness in a city under authoritarian rule. In this dystopian setting, William and Molly, father and daughter, try to carve out a life rooted in their love for each other. Ball's lyrical writing contrasts with the bleak context, and the puppet show at the end of the novel allows a fantasy to pull the story together. Readers who like Cormac McCarthy's The Road are likely to enjoy this novel.

Rating: Three-star (Recommended)
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Tonight's dessert: honey-glazed sewer balls February 1, 2012
Like a capricious demi-god, author Jesse Ball plays with his audience, and, like a cruel but creative demi-god, he manipulates to cause as much unhappiness in his creation and his readers as his talents permit.

A shadow government has taken over; no one knows who they are or what they want, but people are randomly killed by plainclothes police. That's pretty much all you need to know about the premise. It will never get better; once the people surrender their freedom, there's no turning back, no redemption, no answers, no grace. Our well-drawn hero and his mute 9-year-old daughter are no exception. Try as he might to be inoffensive, to play by the new rules, to stay under the radar, the father must slip at some point, and the police (and author) gleefully jump on it. Didn't you realize that totalitarian states are evil? The author is here to smack you in the face with it, frustrating your desire for a happy ending or a ray of hope. Of course, there are no solutions, except "this shouldn't have happened in the first place, suckers!"

Beautifully written, nihilistic, improbable, unrelenting. I'm interested in puppets and dolls, so I read the novel after reading a review that said the abandoned daughter is acting out her life story through a puppet show. The puppet-master neighbor and the girl converse in metaphor, and we understand how exceptional this child is. Just don't get too attached. The father has been set up by the rebels to be a sacrificial goat, perhaps to help spark a counter-revolution. The most life-affirming response would be suicide.

This novel most reminds me of Sitt Marie Rose, another bleak story that wants to alert you to how awful life is.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting
Dark, quasi Orwellian, and tautly written. Has a haunting quality to it that had me go back and reread it a week after finishing it the first time.
Published 7 months ago by Westarmagh
4.0 out of 5 stars provocative
This book had an emotional impact that sat just beyond reach but was always present. It makes one appreciate how much we have and forces us to consider how easily we could lose... Read more
Published 19 months ago by Roberta S. Bloom
4.0 out of 5 stars The Puppet Show!
I finished The Curfew a few days ago and I am still thinking about Molly, her father, and the puppet show. Read more
Published on December 20, 2012 by cinamon
5.0 out of 5 stars This book is quite wonderful
If you don't like this book, then you must not enjoy fine literature. Jesse Ball is a baller with words. Respect.
Published on August 28, 2012 by R. Takamizu
1.0 out of 5 stars 100 Words or Less
In many ways, I felt this novel was more interested in style than substance ... actually, much like poetry in a way. Read more
Published on June 7, 2012 by JRubino
2.0 out of 5 stars Bleak and empty
Very lean prose, similar in style to McCarthy's 'The Road', but without the depth. The daughter and neighbors are sympathetic, and the puppet show at the end lended a bit of... Read more
Published on January 19, 2012 by mhcv
2.0 out of 5 stars Sometimes lovely, but mostly empty
The Curfew started off strong, with lean and interesting prose. In the end, though, its abstract universe ended up putting me off. Read more
Published on December 18, 2011 by Jake
5.0 out of 5 stars haunting with possibilities
This is a magical book about a city taken over by secret police, where the citizens are confronted with multiple choices about how to resist or not to resist the take over. Read more
Published on November 8, 2011 by Katherine F. Bryant
4.0 out of 5 stars Like a bad dream (but a good read!)
This is a dystopian novel with some new ideas. The characters are likable and relatable. The story is short and moves smoothly and the writing is easy but poetic. Read more
Published on October 3, 2011 by Kaitlin Kelly
5.0 out of 5 stars I list Ball among my favorite authors
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. Read more
Published on September 17, 2011 by Zach Powers
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More About the Author

Jesse Ball is the author of numerous prize winning works of fiction and poetry. 2011 will bring a novel, The Curfew, from Vintage, and a collected verse/prose omnibus, The Village on Horseback, from Milkweed Editions. He lives in Chicago.

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