Thursday, September 6, 2007

"Samedi the Deafness" by Jesse Ball

What follows is a review of Jesse Ball's recently-published novel Samedi the Deafness.

I will spare you specifics about the book, as this is well-covered elsewhere on these interweb-tubes. Another motivation for this is because I wish for each new reader of Samedi to discover the story on their own terms as much as possible. I was looking forward to reading this novel by the poet Jesse Ball ever since I saw it was to be released. Once I got my hands on the advanced reader's copy, I paused my reading only for sleep and eating. It can go by quickly if you aren't careful to savor it, yet you don't feel as if the book is whipping you along. At the same time, the wonder and preciousness of each moment comes through in the book. The story feels like a distinct character, as if it has it's own life and agency. You come across little wisdoms uttered by the characters which initially feel as if they are meant to remain within the realm of the book, but as the book seeps into you you start to wonder which ones might function well outside the pages. And there are deeper wisdoms here, stretching across pages and sections of the book, which take longer to seep in.

The imagination present in this story is inspirational, as it is not a separate entity but the well up from which the story is drawn. Scenes from the book are still swirling about my head. I say this in contrast to another author whom I enjoy, who blurs the line between reality and the sub-/un-conscious (imaginary?), thus making reality feel unstable and foggy. This is enjoyable on its own merits, if you enjoy such a challenge. Ball's work is assured in its vagaries and imagination, which imparts a confidence on the reader rather than a fog, bringing its own challenges to the reader and reinforcing the reader's suspension of disbelief. While I speak of confidences, I should mention that Ball's writing style makes it feels like the story is being told directly to you, bestowed in confidence not to be disclosed to others. What a feeling to be in collusion with an author while reading their words!

Samedi is a good introduction to Ball's fiction writing style, which has a feel akin to prose poetry. There is talk of another of his novels being released sometime in 2008, which promises to delve deeper into imaginative realms. His other publications are worth your time, including a collection of poetry, March Book, and a collection of short stories/prose poems about an atrocious couple with a stirring joie de vivre, Vera & Linus, written with poet Thordis Bjornsdottir.

I urge you to explore the website for Samedi the Deafness, which includes audio of the author reading excerpts, videos produced by the author, and promotional materials for the populace to spread the word about Samedi. The Flash plug-in is necessary.