Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Silence Once Begun by Jesse Ball Amazingly Unnecessary...

The Narito Disappearances occurred in the villages near Sakai in the year of 1977. They began around June and continued up until the capture of Oda Sotatsu. The newspapers eagerly followed the case and it drew national press attention, culminating in a furor at Oda Sotatsu's arrest. What was it?

Eight people disappeared, roughly two per month. There was no evidence of a struggle; however, it was clear that the disappearances were effected suddenly (food set out on the table, no personal objects missing, etc.) The people who disappeared were all older men and women, between the ages of fifty and seventy, who without exception lived alone. On the door of the residence a playing card was discovered, one per residence. No fingerprints of any kind were on the cards. No one witnessed the departure of any of the disappeared individuals. It was a powerful and gripping mystery, and as more and more people
Sakai City Hall
disappeared, the region went into shock. Patrols were even created to visit the homes of isolated or widowed individuals. But the patrols were never in the right place at the right time...

Silence Once Begun

By Jesse Ball

If there had been some esoteric value I could have learned, I might have been better able to recommend that you read this novel. It is somewhat based upon fact, but the dates, names, and actual location have all been changed. This means that unless you sought some legal reason for the author to release the exact names involved, this story will remain forever with the unanswered question: Why?

I do understand why the author started the research, given what was happening in his love life--his lover had withdrawn and became silent. Certainly we would do whatever it took to discover what might cause this... But, if, when you have reached a point in your research, would you continue, even knowing you will never understand? I could not. I've always asked the question Why? It is easy to understand why I choose mystery, suspense, etc., as my favorite fictional genre. Quite simply, I could not accept the underlying story, thus the book has little value to me.

Certainly I am not questioning that it did happen, nor that Jesse Ball has not done an outstanding job in his research and reporting thereof. But why did he do it--finish the book? Anything that I, the reader, would garner would be guess work, based upon his reporting... To me it was unsatisfactory. Still, there will be some who may feel it provides a thought-provoking theme over which to discuss with colleagues. Alas, at my age, this didn't even tempt me.

There is no way to give away anything about this novel; it is simply a statement of what happened after the journalist got involved in the research. What I wondered after finishing is whether or not he tried to impress to the two participants that it was time to be truthful--and why didn't they try to stop it... Please, don't try to tell me it was all a politically motivated conversation...

In any even, here is the novel in a nutshell. Three young adults got together and discussed a concept, during which there was drinking and drugs to some extent. One individual was selected at the end and he signed a confession...

The confession was turned into the police, he was arrested, tried and convicted...of murder...

He started in jail in silence and although he did begin to talk, it apparently was way too late. He went to death, not ever having read the confession he supposedly wrote.

There was a woman involved, who later claimed they were soulmates...OMG...May I never find such a soulmate! His family I can understand somewhat. He had never been a child to do anything like what it was being said he did and, after all, he had confessed.

Now here's the kicker, not only did he sign a confession for murders he did not commit, those murdered had never been committed. Some joke huh? Some study, huh, sure if you're stoned???  

Are we so immune to death and dying that, on a lark, an individual is willing to go through it all, and not once claim, "I signed something that I didn't know I was signing..." There was no honor gained that we could see???

Sorry, Jesse Ball... it's not your book that I'm deploring, so much as the futility of what happened. And the people who participated not only in doing it, but hiding it under the carpet.  I'd rather you blogged about it, shouted, screamed, wrote about it for every newspaper...but to simply put it out there???

No, this should have been an emotional roller-coaster...or nothing...


A Final Note: After reading the interview linked below, I wondered about my review--but not for long. No, I have not become an information ager, desiring to know anything and everything... No, I did not want to view the photos that I, too, had found on the Internet, finding nothing really I could connect to the story--merely the strangeness of any country that exists with both the past and the present in photographic form... And, no, I didn't want to mull over this story in my mind. Will that accomplish anything? Is it the purpose of a book merely to elicit acknowledgment or to force somebody to wonder about something? I would like to see this journalist take a giant step forward, not merely to report, but to press for the background of this man, this thread seller in Japan, to discover how and why this would ever happen... I would want to ask a woman who claimed the man as a soulmate, but could or would not be able to talk him into, and then collaborate his story with her part in it...

Wait, my friend readers, for that book...

Read Interview with Publishers Weekly!

Jesse Ball is the author of three previous novels including Samedi the Deafness, and several works of verse, bestiaries, and sketchbooks. His prizes include the 2008 Paris Review Plimpton Prize; his verse has been included in the Best American Poetry series. He gives classes on lucid dreaming and lying in the School of the Art Institute of Chicago's MFA Writing program. His most recent novel, Silence Once Begun, will be published by Pantheon Books in January 2014.

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