12 May 2014

Silence Once Begun

Summary from Goodreads:
From the celebrated author of The Curfew, Jesse Ball’s Silence Once Begun is an astonishing novel of unjust conviction, lost love, and a journalist’s obsession.

Over the course of several months, eight people vanish from their homes in the same Japanese town, a single playing card found on each door. Known as the “Narito Disappearances,” the crime has authorities baffled—until a confession appears on the police’s doorstep, signed by Oda Sotatsu, a thread salesman. Sotatsu is arrested, jailed, and interrogated—but he refuses to speak. Even as his parents, brother, and sister come to visit him, even as his execution looms, and even as a young woman named Jito Joo enters his cell, he maintains his vow of silence. Our narrator, a journalist named Jesse Ball, is grappling with mysteries of his own when he becomes fascinated by the case. Why did Sotatsu confess? Why won’t he speak? Who is Jito Joo? As Ball interviews Sotatsu’s family, friends, and jailers, he uncovers a complex story of heartbreak, deceit, honor, and chance.

Wildly inventive and emotionally powerful, Silence Once Begun is a devastating portrayal of a justice system compromised, and evidence that Jesse Ball is a voraciously gifted novelist working at the height of his powers.

Silence Once Begun by Jesse Ball was the spring pick for the Bookrageous Book Club so I decided to check it out. I didn't get it finished before the podcast posted but I did polish it off a few days later.

It was...good?  I'm not familiar with Ball's style but apparently the conceit of having his alter-ego "Jesse Ball" narrate is something he's done before.  Did I appreciate the weird mind-fuck that was happening in the story? Yes. I appreciated the construction of the novel but it all seemed so pointless? I think? Definitely not a book for those who like defined plots/narratives and characters who all contradict one another's stories/motivation. I'm also not sure how to take the writing style, it seemed very stilted at times.

An interesting plot, but maybe not the best book for me.

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