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Silence Once Begun: A Novel (Vintage Contemporaries) Kindle Edition
"A Criminal Magic" by Lee Kelly
THE NIGHT CIRCUS meets THE PEAKY BLINDERS in Lee Kelly's new magical realism, crossover novel and casts a spell of magic, high stakes and intrigue against the backdrop of a very different Roaring Twenties. Learn more
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Top Customer Reviews
The premise is instantly (pardon the pun) arresting. A thread salesman named Oda Sotatsu signs a confession for a crime that has baffled the Japanese authorities – eight older individuals disappear without a trace in what becomes known as the Narito Disappearances. Yet once jailed, he utters barely a word….even though we, the readers, know he is not guilty from the first pages.
A man who refers to himself as the Interviewer – named Jesse Ball – meets with Sotatsu’s parents, brother and sister, jailers, and a woman perceived as a love interest. Written in the conceit of notes drawn from interviews via tape-device, the story takes on an immediacy and fascination – particularly as we realize that the character Jesse Ball is in search of existential answers in his own life.
“One can’t say how one behaved or why, really. Such situations, they are far more complex than any either/or proposition. It is simplistic to produce events in pairs and lean them against each other like cards.” And so it is here. Each person whom Jesse Ball encounters provides a credible part of the puzzle, yet each urges him not to trust anyone else. From one character: “You have to be very careful whom you trust. Everyone has a version, and most of them are wrong.” Who is telling the truth and who is lying – and in the grand scheme of things, does it even matter? As Sotatsu’s brother says about their father: “He said I had a liar’s respect for the truth, which is too much respect.Read more ›
OK, is there a story? Yes, but a strange one. In the late seventies, an undistinguished Japanese worker named Oda Sotatsu, losing a barroom bet with two friends, signs his name to a document which they then deliver to the police. It turns out to be a confession to the disappearance of eleven old people in the Narito region, and Sotatsu is arrested. But as he refuses to speak during interrogation, at his trial, or to appeal his sentence, he is condemned to death and hanged. Three decades later, an American journalist named Jesse Ball (yes), whose marriage is breaking up owing to his wife's sudden refusal to speak, becomes interested in the case of Sotatsu's silence and goes to Japan to interview the surviving witnesses.
What follows, organized with nerdish care, is a series of interviews, tape transcripts, newspaper reports, personal observations, and supporting documents.Read more ›
“Silence Once Begun” undoubtedly tells a strange tale. Like many young people even today, Sato Kakuzo was an idealist, who viewed the notion of “justice”, at least in the legal sense, as wholly inadequate because of its failure to secure the truth. In his quest to prove the point Kakuzo engages Oda Sotatsu in a game of chance which invariably Oda loses. As a consequence of his loss, Oda is sworn to silence about the contents of his signed false confession that Kakuzo put before him.
The tragedy is twofold: first Oda Sotatsu gives up his freedom and ultimately his life for no consequence; and secondly, Sato Kakuzo finds despair in that his plan, while successful, yielded no significant conclusion – it being wholly forgotten along with him and Sotatsu.
There is more to the writing than the summary that I have laid out. There is a considerable amount of philosophical expression devoted to each of the different participants in the story. Each plies his own layer of wisdom, sometimes faulty, and it assembles around the individualism of the participant’s life knowledge.
In conclusion, I found the novel to be only somewhat to my liking. It was strange in its construction and particularly confounding in its moral depth. The latter providing some incredulity as to the actions committed by the players – but of course, this is after all, the heart of the work. If nothing more, the novel is short and can be read rather quickly so I am suggesting that you might like to add it to your reading list.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I think I might be an outlier on my feelings about this book. While I appreciate the structure and style of this novel I have a thing about gimmicks. Read morePublished 5 days ago by The Steadfast Reader
I found the form of this novel, mostly a series of interviews (dialogue), tedious and lacking in creativity as utilised in prose.Published 14 days ago by Amazon Customer
Written as an expose by a fictional journalist (named Jesse Bell) as if Jesse is sharing his research with the reader thus the reader is presented with many Q. & A. interviews. Read morePublished 1 month ago by E. B. MULLIGAN
Disappointing and rather a mish mash of plots and characters, I found nothing here that held my interest or seemed even the least bit entertaining or thought provoking. Read morePublished 1 month ago by LAURI CRUMLEY COATES
While “Silence Once Begun” wasn’t my favorite novel by Jesse Ball, it was difficult to put down, so that’s something. Read morePublished 1 month ago by MattS | Gas Station Burrito
Silence Once Begun is the second of two Jesse Ball novels I’ve read in the past month, and it’s the better of the two. Or perhaps I should say the one I enjoyed more. Read morePublished 6 months ago by P. Mann
This is a rather odd and unsettling tale of a series of disappearances in the late 1970s in Japan and the man who confesses to the crime. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Vermeer fan
I found nothing exciting or believable in this book. I had no idea what I was reading most of the time, and when I reached the final pages, I was as lost as I'd been at the... Read morePublished 7 months ago by Daring Di
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