“Much of his life in the past years was a matter of making it so that things could not get worse. He tried to, through a series of habits, insulate and barricade the life that he and Molly lived, so that it could not be invaded or altered.”
But The Curfew is the best thing I think Ball has written, certainly the best thing of his I’ve read, because it combines his specific sensibility, and his ability to balance precision and vagueness in his diction and imagery, with a simple structure and a clarity in the emotional stakes of the story. I expect that much of this preference comes from my need for a plot on which to hang writing. But this novel — which starts off detailing William’s life as it’s been built around his mute daughter Molly, guarding her and protecting her from the dangers of the adult world, and then shifts in its second half when William drops his guard — demonstrates, enormously, the benefit of that bit of structure and starch for Ball’s fine writing. This is the book I wanted from this writer.