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A Cure for Suicide: A Novel Hardcover – July 21, 2015
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From the author of Silence Once Begun, a beguiling new novel about a man starting over at the most basic level, and the strange woman who insinuates herself into his life and memory.
A man and a woman have moved into a small house in a small village. The woman is an “examiner,” the man, her “claimant.” The examiner is both doctor and guide, charged with teaching the claimant a series of simple functions: this is a chair, this is a fork, this is how you meet people. She makes notes in her journal about his progress: he is showing improvement yet his dreams are troubling. One day the examiner brings the claimant to a party, where he meets Hilda, a charismatic but volatile woman whose surprising assertions throw everything the claimant has learned into question. What is this village? Why is he here? And who is Hilda? A fascinating novel of love, illness, despair, and betrayal, A Cure for Suicide is the most captivating novel yet from one of our most audacious and original young writers.
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“War doesn’t exist anymore, and neither do prisons, in the seemingly not-so-distant future where Jesse Ball’s magnetic, suspenseful, occasionally heart-rending fifth novel, A Cure for Suicide, unfolds . . . There are echoes of the Peter Weir movie The Truman Show and the Tom McCarthy novel Remainder . . . Seeded with humor . . . Ball also weaves in romance—the sweet triumph of a resilient heart . . . Hypnotic.” —Laura Collins-Hughes, The Boston Globe
“Ball . . . craft[s] a full, satiating story . . . A rich, tragic love story . . . The heart of the claimant’s motivations—a dense kernel buried and reshaped by the Process of the Villages—is revealed, richly adorned with sensuous scenes . . . Ball is commenting on the texture of our strongest memories—jagged rocks that jut out amid the steady tide of daily life . . . An enthralling thought experiment that considers the value of memory versus the pain of grief.” —Maddie Crum, The Huffington Post
“Ball, also a poet, writes with a restrained specificity, his language so precise and clinical that it compounds into lyricism.” —Natalie Beach, O Magazine
“This dystopian novel from Ball is both a puzzle box and a haunting love story . . . Each section illuminates the characters and situations from the previous portions, which draws the reader into the material more effectively and heartbreakingly than a traditional structure would allow . . . Whatever the source of this book’s elusive magic, it should cement Ball’s reputation as a technical innovator whose work delivers a powerful emotional impact.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“There are few things more tantalizing, more compelling, than wondering what the hell is going on… Hushed, enigmatic . . . Elegant . . . This turns out to be a love story about a penniless man and a rich, dying woman, and it’s one of the finest things Ball has ever written, a magical, gripping burst of emotional history, which interrogates the book’s ultimate subject, suicide and the desire for oblivion . . . In Ball's best and eeriest work, it gives him the power to touch deep, luminous emotions.”
—Charles Finch, Chicago Tribune
“The juxtaposition of the commonplace and the darkly bizarre has become something of a specialty of the author's, as has his books' skill at reflecting the ongoing struggle of the individual in a society based on conformity. In his latest novel, A Cure for Suicide, Ball hauls another of his strange-yet-familiar worlds into vibrant life.”
—Kevin Nance, Chicago Tribune
“Its tone and soft, murky edges make me think of Margaret Atwood's Gilead — a place where it's the quiet that haunts you, the incredibly short distances between the real and the fictional… With semiotic precision… it is in the small space between the truth and the lie that Ball's dystopia festers… the precision of the language ticks along, as lulling as a clock.”
—Jason Sheehan, NPR
“Profound... Ball performs the remarkable task of pruning away layers of readerly skepticism in order to find the inherent beauty of small moments.”
—Jonathon Sturgeon, Flavorwire
“A Cure for Suicide, Ball’s fifth book, begins without providing any context: we’re plunked down in a tiny, unnamed town, as a woman teaches an male amnesiac how to be human again. At first the lessons are basic and literal—this is how a chair is used, here is how to greet a stranger—but they grow in difficulty and complexity… A vision of a society that flees from hurt, numbing the tormented in order to save them.”
—Joe Fassler, The Atlantic
“Jesse Ball is a master of dialogue . . . The book prompts a conversation about life—how we enter it, how we navigate its shoals, and how we exit it.” —Tara Sonenshine, New York Journal of Books
“As in his elegant, enigmatic previous novels, The Curfew (2011) and Silence Once Begun (2014), Ball imagines a spare, spooky, muffled realm of continual surveillance and absolute control . . . Ball slyly exposes the survival-focused aspects of human interactions, from small talk to shared meals . . . a tragic love affair further complicates the disquieting and profound mystery of it all.” —Booklist
“Ball’s disorienting novel takes its time revealing the scope of its philosophical concerns, but it rewards patience... Patterns emerge—the claimant has disturbing dreams and keeps meeting a woman with whom he seems to have had a relationship. When the novel unveils some of its secrets, the result is unexpectedly moving.”
—The New Yorker
“The School of the Art Institute writing professor follows his well-received Silence Once Begun with this experimental tale of a man simply known as the ‘claimant,’ who, with the help of a mysterious woman, must relearn how to function in society.” —“Great Summer Reads,” Chicago Magazine
“A poet by trade, Ball understands the economy of language better than most fiction writers today. His poignant Silence Once Begun uses each word and margin with precision, so his next book promises to interest those with a penchant for brevity. [A Cure for Suicide] begins with a man who's relearning everything the way a child might, asking questions like, ‘What is a painting?’ ‘What is imagination?’ But soon, urged on by unpleasant dreams, he discovers the truth behind his state.”
—“18 Brilliant Books You Won't Want To Miss This Summer,” The Huffington Post
“Jesse Ball's A Cure for Suicide is a novel about learning to forget the past . . . It also functions as a kind of mystery . . . a beautifully written quest for meaning that challenges assumptions about the tie between memory and the creation of meaning . . . a quiet poignancy . . . heartbreaking and hopeful . . . it is important not to let the search for answers get in the way of the constant, subtle pleasures of its language . . . devastating.”
—John Anspach, Bookslut
“Elegant and spooky, dystopian and poetic, Jesse Ball’s follow-up to the well-reviewed Silence Once Begun follows a man known only as ‘the claimant’ as he relearns everything under the guidance of an ‘examiner,’ a woman who defines everything from the objects in their house to how he understands his existence. Then he meets another woman at a party and begins to question everything anew. A puzzle, a love story, and a tale of illness, memory, and manipulation, A Cure for Suicide promises to be a unique novel from a writer already known for his originality.”
—“Most Anticipated: The Great Second-Half 2015 Book Preview,” The Millions
“Jesse Ball’s fourth novel is full of disquieting ideas and probing questions… Captivating… Ball’s slippery novel stubbornly refuses to be pinned down and tagged, and to synopsize it is, in a way, to simplify its riddles and dilute its inventiveness. A Cure for Suicide skillfully stokes feelings of paranoia and persecution… Ball’s lean, clinical prose puts us in mind of Samuel Beckett, and his heady concoction of unsettling atmosphere, sterile environments and authorial obfuscations and distortions is redolent of the potent brew that powered recent dark fables from Chang-rae Lee and Howard Jacobson… It possesses more than enough momentum to keep disturbing and provoking. Refreshingly unconventional, the novel sees a highly original writer take another left-field leap in a daring and rewarding direction.”
—Michael Forbes, Minneapolis Star Tribune
“With A Cure for Suicide, Ball has successfully launched an intriguing sci-fi story arc while establishing a series of thematic questions: the nature of communication, the meaning behind names and the purpose of life itself… Poignant... Ball handles his intriguing premise with subtlety and authority, marching his plot through the momentous consequences-unexpected and inherent-of a truly life-altering decision. A Cure for Suicide ponders memory, identity, love, desire and choice. The question that remains is a heavy one indeed: Would you choose to start over?”
—Eric Swedlund, Paste Magazine
About the Author
- Publisher : Pantheon; 1st Edition (July 21, 2015)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 256 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1101870125
- ISBN-13 : 978-1101870129
- Item Weight : 1 pounds
- Dimensions : 5.8 x 1.1 x 9.6 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #1,983,369 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
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Quem é esse rapaz que não terá nome por diversas páginas? Ele pode ser quem ele quiser – ou melhor, quem sua examinadora fazê-lo ser. Quando ele, que não sabe nem o nome dos objetos, pergunta como foi parar nessa casa, a mulher explica que ele estava muito doente, agora está convalescente e readquirindo sua força. Por algo chamado de Process of Villages, essa rapaz reaprende a viver. Primeiro as coisas mais simples, que dependem apenas dele, depois as habilidades sociais. Aí sua vida sai do prumo, e novos ajustes precisam ser feitos. Primeiro ele ganha o nome de Martin, depois de Henry Caul, sua vida muda, novos ajustes indicam novos caminhos. Ele é um botânico, embora não tenha estudado botânica. Ele pode ser quem ele quiser.
Construído em frases curtas, contidas que pouco explicam e muito sugerem, o romance de Ball é uma espécie de distopia emocional, no qual a destruição está dentro do personagem, e não no mundo que o cerca. Nesse sentido, a questão central aqui é a construção social da identidade: o quanto importa para nós quem somos e a história que carregamos, e o quanto tudo isso pode importar para o outro? Talvez tudo, e talvez nada, respectivamente. Construímos nosso mundo interno e externo a partir de impulsos vindos desses dois meios, e o resultado é um amalgama de tudo. Mas e se o que nos cerca está programado para nos induzir a uma construção específica? O preço disso pode ser bem alto.
Há ecos de O Show de Truman e Never Let Me Go aqui, sobre relações sociais falseadas e induzidas, sobre pessoas que desconhecem quem são, mas também há um escritor bastante seguro de suas ideias e narrativa, claramente divida, na forma, entre passado e o presente. Ele constrói seu romance como seu personagem constrói sua identidade, repleto de incertezas e questionamentos, o que faz de ambos tão reais quando profundos.