Samedi the Deafness

Jesse Ball, Author . Vintage $12.95 (291p) ISBN 978-0-307-27885-2

Unspecified cataclysm threatens in this unconventional debut spy fable from poet Ball. As mysterious suicides are staged daily on the White House lawn, James Sim, a loner and professional mnemonist (someone who can memorize large amounts of data), comes upon a man stabbed in a park. The man's dying words cast light on garbled notes left by the White House suicides that threaten something very big and very bad in seven days' time. Following the dead man's clues (over seven days in as many chapters), Sim cracks ciphers, explores hidden passages of a fictional, labyrinth-like “verisylum” and struggles to find a straight answer about Samedi, the figure seemingly at the center of the matter. The suicides continue, and the only good advice comes from female pickpocket Grieve, who goes by false names, spies on Sim and falls for him. There are flashbacks to conversations with Sim's childhood imaginary friend (an invisible red owl named Ansilon) and a detailed, history of the fictional 18th-century inventor of the verisylum. Ball writes scenes that read like prose poetry and cultivates a Beckett-like alienated digression rather than standard plot mechanics. The results are highly imaginative but hard going. (Sept.)

Reviewed on: 05/21/2007
Release date: 09/01/2007
Genre: Fiction
Open Ebook - 147 pages - 978-0-307-45593-2
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