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Starred Review. The search for a stranger's history leads down a narrative cul-de-sac in Plimpton Prize–winner Ball's accomplished and clever second novel (after Samedi the Deafness). When pamphleteer Selah Morse witnesses a taxi run down a young woman, he takes her to the hospital and, in telling the staff that he is her boyfriend and that her name is Mora Klein, is given custody of her. She is amnesiac, and his orders are to reconstruct her memories through story. The book then begins anew, and the narrative folds in upon itself again and again, launching in new directions and each time leaving the earlier story incomplete. Throughout, Morse searches out Mora Klein's identity, picking up other travelers along the way, among them a Coney Island mind reader; a doting husband who may or may not have made a deal with the devil; a love interest for Morse fascinated by the pamphleteer's opus; and a fiddle-playing dog. Though literal-minded readers may struggle to follow Morse's arc as the stories converge and he slips deeper into layers of story, Ball's skill with language and delight in comic absurdity make this an immensely enjoyable, brain-busting experience. (Feb.)
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In an inversion of the Scheherazade legend, the hero of this dizzyingly circuitous novel must tell stories all night to a beautiful amnesiac, to keep her awake and alive. He begins by explaining himself: he writes pamphlets (sample title: �An Inquiry into the Ultimate Utility of the Silly, as Prefigured in the Grave and Inhospitable�) and works as a municipal inspector, in an office reachable only by ladder. His stories dissolve, unfinished, into other stories; characters�including a �guess artist� who reads minds with a thirty-three-per-cent accuracy rate, a girl who accepts only written communications (preferably typed), and a spurned Russian empress who forces her former lover to marry �the ugliest of women��vanish and resurface; and reality is generally given the heave-ho. It�s a thrilling ride through an alternative New York (think Steven Millhauser on acid), where the tallest building extends hundreds of feet below ground and cabbies are paid in gold doubloons.
This book has instantly become one of my favorites! So wonderfully written. Paints a fantastically vivid world full of amazing characters and bizarre scenarios.Published 8 months ago by Ruth Ann
The way through doors will challenge and thrill. The plot becomes almost irrelevant because the writing and ideas are so stimulating. Read morePublished on December 29, 2012 by Smalltownghosts
This is unlike anything you will ever read. The story is so intriguing that one gets pulled in immediately. Read morePublished on June 26, 2011 by J. Smallridge
Impish and self-congratulatory technique. Perfect for Millennials; others may tire quickly of the lack of substance.Published on October 4, 2010 by hh
A passage -- an endless passage -- I did not take a photograph, but as with the most mythic of journeys (like holy psychedelics), I came back changed. Read morePublished on June 8, 2009 by lady e
Don't even think about trying to read Jesse Ball's novel, The Way Through Doors, while at the beach or on an airplane. Read morePublished on May 25, 2009 by Stephen T. Hopkins
I love this book. It's very... interesting and extremely confusing, but it's so worth the bizarreness. Read morePublished on May 6, 2009 by Lisa Fox
this is unlike anything I've read and if I'd not have seen some great reviews of the piece I'd never have picked it up... I'm glad I did... Read morePublished on April 12, 2009 by G. Dave Post