Unspecified cataclysm threatens in this unconventional debut spy fable from poet Ball. As mysterious suicides are staged daily on the White House lawn, James Sim, a loner and professional mnemonist (someone who can memorize large amounts of data), comes upon a man stabbed in a park. The man's dying words cast light on garbled notes left by the White House suicides that threaten something very big and very bad in seven days' time. Following the dead man's clues (over seven days in as many chapters), Sim cracks ciphers, explores hidden passages of a fictional, labyrinth-like verisylum and struggles to find a straight answer about Samedi, the figure seemingly at the center of the matter. The suicides continue, and the only good advice comes from female pickpocket Grieve, who goes by false names, spies on Sim and falls for him. There are flashbacks to conversations with Sim's childhood imaginary friend (an invisible red owl named Ansilon) and a detailed, history of the fictional 18th-century inventor of the verisylum. Ball writes scenes that read like prose poetry and cultivates a Beckett-like alienated digression rather than standard plot mechanics. The results are highly imaginative but hard going. (Sept.)
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“A strange modern thriller--Kafka meets Hitchcock--laden with questions about truth, identity, memory, and the importance of names, a story that casts an unsettling spell.”
—Keith Donohue, author of The Stolen Child
“Like a tale by Lewis Carroll or a film by David Lynch, Samedi the Deafness teeters on the edge of unreality, plunges right in, and comes back again full circle. From its labyrinth of fictions, through the doubling and deceptive mirrors lining its walls and corridors, spills the eerie glow of some strange, ineffable truth.”
—Tom McCarthy, author of Remainder
“Samedi the Deafness is an urgent book . . . trying intently to tell us something about our world and our way of living, and it challenges us to listen. No serious reader can refuse this challenge.”
—Paul La Farge, author of Haussmann, or the Distinction
I want to say something about this book, but I can't. As I read between the lines, I found profound density. When I read the lines themselves, I found flatness. Read morePublished on May 29, 2011 by librarianshannon
It is a great book, very interesting. It took a while (1 month) to reach over here (Europe) but it is worth waiting for it.Published on May 20, 2009 by C. M.
This is a very quick read that doesn't leave you quickly. Ball has written a book with violence that we never see; with characters we don' t really get to know; set in a place we... Read morePublished on September 5, 2008 by Dick Johnson