Saturday, December 23, 2017

THE WAY THROUGH DOORS by Jesse Ball

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Many times, I've read this book alluded as Calvino-esque, which I find really wrong, foremost, because I cannot stress enough how much I disliked how the stories in Calvino's If on a Winter's Night a Traveler were put together. Meanwhile, the stories in The Way Through Doors conjunct intriguingly well. And this, this is an absolute pleasure to read.
Let us make a pact, she said. To madness at every juncture!
It is fortuity that our enigmatic protagonist, Selah Morse, is a pamphleteer, since, in this winding novel, he must tell stories all night to an equally enigmatic young lady suffering (plausibly) from a temporary memory loss. He began by explaining his work as a municipal inspector (doing many things, yet seemingly nothing), in a surreptitious office inside a surreptitious building, with a badge that can open many doors. His stories bled into stories that bled some more, exactly like two dogs chasing each other in circles. There is nothing linear about this book except for Mora Klein having drawn an image with precise angles. His peculiar characters, including a lover, a guess artist, and a gambler, evaporate only to apparate again in another story.

My favorite story -well it is not the story itself, but how the words were knitted together nicely- is Entering Rooms, a Grammar and Method.
Sometimes one must be more careful of being seen in happiness than in grief or anger. A great deal may be told from the expression of a happy man or woman. In any case, one must be prepared for the worst, and ready. Therefore, pause a moment before passing through a door, unless, of course, one is being watched on the outside, or one’s approach to the door is being timed, as in a situation when one is buzzed through an exterior door. In that case, one does not have the leisure to pause, for that pause would in its turn be noted and interpreted in a variety of ways, some of which would be harmful. Therefore, perhaps we should say, make the pause a mental pause, a sort of inner unveiling of precaution. It should last barely a second, and immediately preface the entering of the room in question.
A very curious story, too, because of our protagonist’s name, Selah, which if translated literally is “Pause”. Now thinking about it, most of the names here are curious.

THE WAY THROUGH DOORS is a very interesting read, with its iced tea that could taste better in a Cabernet bottle, the dead-letter office that housed a couple and their dog, and the secret of  Lincoln’s Folly.

Question:  Is Selah Morse as cute as Jesse Ball?
I don't know. It didn't say.


Book details:
Title:  The Way Through Doors
Author:  Jesse Ball
Publication:  February 10, 2009; Vintage
Genre:   Metafiction
Rating: ★★★★


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