The Curfew (Vintage Contemporaries)
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William and Molly lead a life of small pleasures, riddles at the kitchen table, and games of string and orange peels. All around them a city rages with war. When the uprising began, William’s wife was taken, leaving him alone with their young daughter. They keep their heads down and try to remain unnoticed as police patrol the streets, enforcing a curfew and arresting citizens. But when an old friend seeks William out, claiming to know what happened to his wife, William must risk everything. He ventures out after dark, and young Molly is left to play, reconstructing his dangerous voyage, his past, and their future. An astounding portrait of fierce love within a world of random violence, The Curfew is a mesmerizing feat of literary imagination.
Jesse Ball THE CURFEW Jesse Ball (1978–) is a poet and novelist. His novels include The Way Through Doors (2009) and Samedi the Deafness (2007), which was a finalist for the Believer Book Award. He has published books of poetry and prose: The Village on Horseback (2010), Vera & Linus (2006), and March Book (2004). A book of his drawings, Og svo kom nottin, appeared in Iceland in 2006. He won the Paris Review’s Plimpton Prize in 2008 for The Early Deaths of Lubeck, Brennan, Harp & Carr. His
found out. This one just begins when it is found out. It is impossible to stop because there are no ringleaders. It is simple enough to describe in a phrase or two the whole extent of it. Any member of the government, any member of the police, of the secret police, all are targets. You live your life, and do nothing out of the ordinary. But if, at some moment, you find yourself in a position to harm one of the targets, you do. Then you continue on as if nothing has happened. You never go out of
also, in an entirely different register. Meanwhile, in the street outside, people come and go. A group of men looking straight ahead. A boy with a brown paper bag. A dog with a blanket hung over its back. A car here or there, a bicycle. William is sitting on the clean bedspread, holding one of Louisa’s dresses. He is not pressing it to his chest, he is simply holding it. Mrs. Gibbons begins to cry softly, and the puppets begin to cry, one by one. The whole room is sobbing, except Molly, who sits
seen. Come after five minutes. —Do you see what I mean? It’s crucial. It’s everyone’s place—everyone is in a position to act, at some point. A man with a long moustache and a military-style coat was muttering into his soup. This man had come in five minutes after William. He had sat at a table near the front, but then knocked over a bottle of wine and asked for another table. He had been moved to the table next to William. This man was William’s friend. William had not spoken to him in four
the question. But of course, of course, he must go. Yes, there are times when something is asked of us, and we find we must do it. There is no calculation involved, no measure of the necessity of the thing itself, the action that must be performed. There is simply an acknowledgment that we will do the thing in question, and then the thing is done, often at considerable personal cost. What goes into these decisions? What tiny factors, invisible, in the jutting edges of personality and