Thursday, October 22, 2015

A Cure for Suicide

by Jesse Ball

An imaginative story, rather sad and melancholy, but also beautifully written. Like one of my favorites from 2013 (Sea of Hooks), it's a novel by a poet. Seriously, I almost cried, and some passages I had to re-read and savor several times.

When I first read a little review and synopsis, it sounded too far out there, but on second look I decided to give it a try. As an object, this book is strangely attractive: a simple cover of lovely blue with thin white lettering and a subtle leaf design, and it's not quite as wide as a standard hardcover book. (At least, I remember it being slim; I'm doubting my memory...)

The story seems to take place in a vaguely dystopian or maybe post-apocalyptic future, mainly because the first part unfolds in an isolated Village, part of a strictly ordered environment used to rehabilitate people from an unknown ailment that renders them in some ways childlike but with skills and understanding that are slowly recovered from a previous life.

As the reader starts to piece together what's happening through several iterations of Village life, the perspective shifts to another story, one that came before and explains how one character entered the Process of Villages. This part is a tale of heartbreak and immense sadness, and it recasts the earlier part in an even more tragic light. Finally, a coda of sorts returns to the Process of Villages and a series of fateful choices.

Definitely in my Top 10 of 2015.

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