Staff Reviews: The Curfew / by Washington Square

The Curfew by Jesse Ball – Vintage Contemporaries

“William ate the rest of his lunch in silence. He put what he had learned in a box and he shut that box. To do otherwise would be to give signs that he had learned something, some new information, and such behavior—indicative of new information—is what alerts those who are looking for traitors. He could not even consider having learned that which he had learned, which after all was practically nothing. Just an idea, a hope of an idea. Away with it for now.”

The Curfew takes place in a city of invisible tyrants—a city where people go missing and grandmothers shoot police officers. Add to this a lost mother, a mute daughter, a father on a quest, and a puppet show. Jesse Ball (The Way Through Doors) creates a modern fable, nests and chops his narratives so that his reader is always pleasantly dislodged. Perhaps because of his background in poetry and art, Ball has meticulous methods of placement and composition. This book feels like something that was not written but put together from raw materials. Asides and observations mix with the story, and so The Curfew is full of aphoristic, fantastical flashes: “There is a theory that the sun is made up of thousands of suns arranged in a war against the others. It is a discredited theory, but it has never been disproven.” Think of this book as a novella and a sketch, a poem and a collage. It is pieces put together for a reason, and in the middle of it all there is still the story—a father who gives everything to keep his daughter safe, a daughter who reaches for anything within her power to learn her father’s fate—acting as a warm human thread that is never subsumed.

-- Cat Richardson, Managing Editor