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School of the Art Institute of Chicago
Jesse Ball's slippery 'Silence Once Begun' built on false confession
Jesse Ball's slippery 'Silence Once Begun' built on false confession

Jesse Ball's "Silence Once Begun" resists the standard narrative tropes of contemporary novels. It pushes against them with antique, gentlemanly language, a conflicting set of stories that clearly reference "Rashomon," and a structure like a funnel that starts at the wide open end. Because the story's details unfold slowly, an interested reader ought to ignore the dust jacket: It gives too much away. Ball, a poet, uses the structure of his novels ("Samedi the Deafness," "The Way Through Doors") as one way to challenge expectations. "Silence Once Begun" begins with the narrator (Jesse Ball) telling us that his relationship has ended because of his wife inexplicably falling silent. His...

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