Monthly Archives: November 2015

A Review of Jesse Ball’s “Silence Once Begun”

While “Silence Once Begun” wasn’t my favorite novel by Jesse Ball, it was difficult to put down, so that’s something.  Well, at least it was the second time I started reading it…

Silence Once Begun Cover

Don’t take it from me, buy your own copy

The style is haunting and… well, disjointed, I suppose is the only word I can use to describe it, but that isn’t quite right.  Between “Interviewer’s Notes”, the protagonist’s interjections, the story is told through interviews, letters, and quasi-poetic attempts at the characters feeling lost and broken and searching.  Every speaker warns the interviewer and reader not to trust the previous speakers.

In the last section of the book, on the verge of the big reveal, we’re told:

“You have to be careful whom you trust. Everyone has a version, and most of them are wrong.  In fact, I can tell you quickly: they are all wrong.  I am in a position to help you understand… the world is made up almost entirely of sentimental fools and brutes…

[I am] a sentimental brute, I suppose.  One who means well, but has no feelings for others.”

 

The big reveal I mentioned isn’t even really the big reveal.  That was.  I just ruined the whole surprise for you, sorry.  Because the underlying story, the Narito Disappearances, that ties all the characters together and keeps you turning the page, isn’t what this novel is really about, and it isn’t about silence either like Tue interviewer would have you believe, not as he understood it at the beginning of his search.  It’s about trust.

The character of Jito Joo is taken advantage of by a man she trusted, she is manipulated into deceiving another in turn.  Her punishment is to be forever alone, forgotten, unseen, unheard.  The man who deceived her is similarly forgotten and ignored when his own deception is revealed.

So it is, that a silence once begun is a trust once betrayed, and, through pride or a sense of duty, even through love it is out inability to move beyond that betrayal.  Instead, the silence becomes an abyss that swallows all memory of ourselves, until once begun we cannot find our way to stop it.

Follow me on Goodreads for more reviews and to see what else I’m reading….

Jesse Ball and a Book Once Begun

I’m so behind.  My bookshelf has gotten out of hand over the last few months… several months.. ok, two years.  Maybe three.

Night Passage, the first of Robert Parker’s ‘Jesse Stone’ books is among the oldest there (and since the Tom Selleck made-for-TV movies have gotten to the point Selleck is co-writing original stories, I need to knock this one off the list), as well as Geoffrey Girard’s Project Cain/Cain’s Blood. ( I have the two-in-one paperback advanced reader from my Barnes & Noble days, try not to be jealous)  Those are the ones hanging on since 2013.  Yeah, I know, that’s ridiculous, but these things just kind of pile up, it’s nobody’s fault.  Or it’s Netflix’s.  I did have ten seasons of Supernatural to catch up on, after all.

Jesse Ball's

But, before I get rid of the offending titles of ol’ aught thirteen, I need to finish reading Jesse Ball’s Silence Once Begun.  While there are always those authors whose list of titles grows without finding the time to step into their world (David Mitchell is at the top of the list victims of my best literary intentions), it’s equally important to stay on top of authors one has already started reading.

With the exception of James Patterson, who releases a new book every two weeks, this should be pretty easy to do.  And yet… I’m two novels and a novella behind on Jesse Ball.

I bought and started reading Silence Once Begun immediately upon its release but was distracted by Hugh Howey and Netflix and a miserable, unending Buffalo winter.  His next novel was released this past July, but I was a little preoccupied with being fired and forgot about buying A Cure for Suicide entirely.

Jesse Ball's novella,

It wasn’t until a week or so ago that someone on Goodreads added his new novella, “The Lesson“, to their ‘Want to Read’ list that I realized how behind I had become.

I’m making progress however, I’ve finished off five books in the last month, two of which I’d been picked away at for several months.  At this rate, there’s a good chance Silence, Jesse Stone, and Cain could all be knocked off my nightstand within a week or two….

Follow me on Goodreads for more reviews and to see what else I’m reading….

 

A Review of John Benditt’s “The Boatmaker”

I really wanted “The Boatmaker” to be amazing.

The jacket description was so promising… and misleading.  “Reluctant hero” and “destructive love affair” are interesting descriptions for a man who would more accurately be referred to as an emotionally abusive (and at times physically violent) alcoholic who himself had been abused by his mother, who shacks up with a prostitute for as long as his money lasts.  He returns again once he’s sold off his only valuables to throw more money at the woman. Which happened to be about 70 pages that did nothing for the story or forward momentum of the plot other than making the boatmaker out to be an aggressive psychologically abusive drunk.

image

When the boatmaker reaches the Mainland the novel hits its main narrative stride, and this probably could have functioned on its own with only a chapter or two to introduce the boatmaker and the quest his fever dream has set him on, rather than the 130 pages of set up and unnecessary exposition that exists. The novel, as well as the boatmaker, spend this next arc redeeming themselves and creating a story that’s truly engaging. The boatmaker’s journey through the Mainland and his experiences there understanding money, religion, prejudice, and redemption was addicting.  It took me six months to get to that point, and a week to read the other three quarters of the novel.

The consistency of style is the most impressive thing about this book, and worth reading for such a technically well executed novel, despite the story itself, the meandering and elusive point of it all, lacking in satisfaction by its end.

Or maybe that was its intention…

Follow me on Goodreads for more reviews and to see what else I’m reading….

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