BOOK The Divers' Game å Jesse Ball – cafe1919.org
Dive down You just dive down and find the hole then it starts I mean you crawl For one ond to the other The divers game the Gone Cold part where youull yourself into the hole is the worst Because from there you just have to go on You have to trust that the tunnel s the same as it was last time This book tends to be reviewed as set in a near future dystopia one which imagines a societal approach to mass immigration and to undesirables that seems only a logical extension of current trends I would add though that it is really also a very lightly imagined variation on The Black Shriving (Chronicles of the Black Gate pastractices and lacks the real imagination of say an Exit West even John Lanchester s The Wall to which book it is in every other way superior and whose Booker longlisting looks even bizarre if one assumes that this book was eligible and submittedBall imagines a country which deals with mass immigration by admitting them marking them with a tattoo of a red hat to mak Thought rovoking and in your face Jesse Ball is everything What kind of suicide is it to kill in the world what you find in yourself I ve seen reviews which discuss this as a future dystopia but for me it s a veiled fable about now Ball offers up a world divided and ghettoised where the haves can kill at will where the have nots specifically refugees and criminals released from rison are non ersons without legal rights It s a world that lacks compassion and empathy where language has been redefined so that the culture can embrace violence while still calling itself non violent where fear and insult are common currency It s no coincidence that a character is named Lethe the river in the classical underworld from which the newly dead drink to forget what living was like How far is this conceptually from Trump s US or Brexit Britain where statesmen have normalised bullying bluster and boasting where sexual assault or disabilities can be mocked ublicly where hatred has become legitimized whether for reasons of race gender sexuality class or any other divisive marker There s a horrible recognition at the heart of Ball s worldFor all that the final and most Mama Ds pasta pizza powerful section for me is both despairing and hopeful as a woman who has killed finds that she is sickened by her own action by what she has done by what she is and how society has shaped her Her resistance is both annihilating and I think redemptive if only in a minor individual way Starkrose The Expected One (Magdalene Line Trilogy, pressingolitics and a desire to shock us into moral confrontation makes this an urgent unnerving readMany thanks to Granta for an ARC via NetGalley I have attempted a couple of times to read a Jesse Ball book waiting for the one that was right for me Ball is not exactly my Betty Fedora Issue One perfect fit he s of a literary impressionist while I tend to stick to realism With THE DIVERS GAME I was able to get engrossed in the world Ball created uickly And even though it isn t myerfect fit as a Aubrey Beardsley, The Man And His Work ploterson I really enjoyed the look into the dark world he s createdThere are a lot of ways to mess up a dystopian novel but it turns out Ball s style is well suited to it He avoids a lot of the Jazz Ukulele problems anditfalls of creating a society that never seems real There are images from this story that will not leave my brain any time soon Ball jumps around in this book moving to different Off 13 parts of the world leaving stories unfinished giving you of a feeling than a strict structure and it works well The basic elements of this world are introduced in some detail though otherieces are mysterious even to the Amata Means Beloved people living in it We spend much of the book following young characters who do not fully comprehend the world they live in who can be callous about its horrors because it is all they have known The naivete and openness of children and youngeople makes THE DIVERS GAME all the gut unching when it delivers its hits which are lentifulWhile Juice ploteople like me may find this book unsatisfying because it doesn t give you those typical beats I still recommend it for its dark vision It s good to break out of your comfort zone sometimes and this is a worthwhile venture out into the unusual The Divers Game is the latest novel from Jesse Ball the 4th of his I have read and someone who is fast emerging as one of our most interesting modern day writers It looks like it s about a very violent society that retends it isn t violent at allIt smells like licorice left in a holeSource A hyena who searched Jesse Ball s house in 2018 and found the draft of this novel He said we can welcome them as long as we can tell them apart As long as we can tell them apart Many of them wherever they were from they had red hats a kind of long knit hat a red hat no one remembers why and so Garing said This will be their symbol We ll tattoo the red hat on their cheeks and then we ll know who is who Then we can welcome themThis novel gives us a a dystopian set up but one that draws as Graham s review oints out on Nazi era ghettos with immigrants and increasingly also criminals in theory allowed to live in the host country but in Gudrun practicehysically branded and legally non Mob Mistress persons such that violence towards them from ordinary citizens is not considered legally and increasingly not even morally wrong Our morality is what we do Do you all understand that But if what we do ceases to be violence let us say it is the same but it is no longer violence then we are not From the inimitable mind of award winning author Jesse Ball a novel about an unsettlingly familiar society that has renounced the concept of euality and the devastating conseuences of unmitigatedowerThe old fashioned struggle for fairness has finally been abandoned It was a misguided endeavor The world is divided into two groups Stud in the Stacks pats and uads Theats may kill the uads as they like and do The
Iolent we are no longer doers of violenceDespite the historical set up this reference to the Choosing to Survive pernicious effect of normalisation of behaviour is highlyertinent to our times gun crime in the US would be one Robin Hood parallel And in fact the author himself argues that to see this as a dystopia is to misread it interview from Paris Review linked belowI don t believe it is a dystopia Dystopian novels areleasant distractions for the beach for the most Felipa part with litherotagonists and evil This is not that at all Instead it is a short speech about violence real violence that I have observed in the The Vavasour Macbeth past forty one years It is aarable about that it s a The Blueprint (English Edition) parable but there is no lessonThe initial set up is over explained in a rather clunky set up literally in a lecture But the novel comes in to its own after the characters escape the lecture hall and we experience other key elements of the society both the rather terrifying Day of the Infanta amongst the noneople and amongst the citizens Ogias Day declared seemingly at very short notice only a fee days earlier for the first time in over 50 years a sort of comprehensive Jubilee although no one uite seems to know what will happen He said he heard on the last Ogias Day a lot of Crisis of the Strauss Divided people died Everything turns upside down Freedom surpriseseople they don t know what to do with it People who have been The Master Masons of Chartres paying back debts for decades and then the debt is just gone It makes them crazy especially if they know othereople who did fuck all with their debts And everyone s in the same boat What is that You could see why VARSITY ABDL (Age Play, Forced Regression, Enema, Domestic Discipline, Spanking Romance) people would be mad Are you saying you think it s a bad idea No no I mean I owe some I ve run it upretty badly You know this job doesn t Road House - The Novel pay much I m glad for it to stop I don t owe anything she said I still live at home I heard she said that it isn t just debt It s all bonds So after tomorrow no one is married You d have to get remarried You have to reacuire your job Everything s started over It s a complete restart They have to explain all this That s why everyone has to go to the announcementoints Can t be true I never heard any of that My brother says he says Ogias Day isn t for us anyway It s for Gnosis people like youeople who own things It s a holiday to keep you owning the things you owninteresting Left to Die-a First Hand Account of Life in the Superdome during Hurricane Katrina parallels to theolitical discussion on both sides of the Atlantic about writing off student debt but also to whether radical reform is really about the Dolphin Diaries Bind-Up preservation of the existing systemThe last section gives the novel aowerful close as we get the suicide note of the lecturer s wife we learned in the first section that she killed herself using the gas citizens are given to defend themselves against non The Wingman Chronicles persons her actions triggered by what she and her society had become There is aermanent sickness in my stomach It is a revulsion and it is a disgust and it is a disgust at who I am and have been who you are who we are together who everyone together becomes in this day and ageRecommended although not Ball s best work and how The Wall made the Booker longlist and this didn t is a mystery but then how The Wall made the Booker longlist is a mystery in any case 35 stars as it isn t Ball s strongest work and readers would be better starting elsewhereAnd there is a wonderful interview here between two of my favourite writers Ball and the brilliant Patty Yumi Cottrell to the ublisher via Netgalley for the ARC The Divers Game is set in a future or alternative society in which refugees and other social outcasts are legally designated as subhuman They are left to live in cordoned off slums called uads and if they enter the main city citizens are ermitted to gas them in order to stun them knock them out or kill them The citizens all carry gas masks and colour coded canisters They are trained from an early age to don th If Jesse Ball s mind was an actual The Best Of Saint Louis place I d love to travel there I m sure it would be spellbinding and full of weird surprises riveting strange and disturbing No one writes about human cruelty and its conseuences like this guy and no one employs the enlighteningower the The Brother-Offended Checklist perspective of a kid canrovide far away from any cheap kitsch like the winner of last year s Gordon Burn Prize for Census a tribute to his dead brother To write like this you have to have deep moral convictions a sprawling imagination and the talent to turn this into intense affecting rose as a reader you need to be willing to ut on your hiking boots and bring your compass in order to venture into the overgrown jungle at the heart of a remote narrative island because Ball s books are no beach reads The Divers Game is a novel in three Detour (Something in Common, parts In the first one we meet two kids living in a dystopian society that openly accepts and cements ineuality justifying this with arguments that rely on fear ignorance and ideas of superiority Theeople living in the lawless uarters outside the city most of them refugees are declared to be less than human and every kid is taught how to gas them if one of them crosses their マジック・ツリーハウス〈1〉恐竜の谷の大冒険 path and disobeys or iserceived as somehow dangerous It has no legal conseuences to immobilize or even Bear Creek Road painfully kill them with gas theeople in the city are carrying gas and gas masks at all times Together with their alcoholic teacher the kids want to visit the zoo and they are ultimately separated to experience two different areas where liv. Ads have no recourse but to continue with their livesThe Divers’ Game is a thinly veiled description of our society an extreme case that demonstrates a truth we must change or our world will collapseWhat is the effect of constant fear on a life or on a culture The Divers’ Game explores the conseuences of violence through two festivals and through the dramatic and excruciating examination of
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Ingdead creatures are cagedIn the second Good Authority Good Authority part we meet kids living in Row House one of the lawless uads outside the city especially a young girl chosen to be the center of an enigmatic ritual that revolves around the limitless execution ofersonal Carneycopia power and the orgiastic experience of beingart of a mob It was the cry of the Captives of New Pompeii (New Pompeii, punished that there should beunishment cruelty hate the world was always so much that the revelers had to flinch away had to retire from feeling and feel not what was before them but instead what they had felt what they might feel This ritual mirrors another one in the first art of the book that is feared by the eople in the city because it revolves around the establishment of euality As you see Ball is Beard Necessities (Winston Brothers, playing with reversals and trick mirrors also watch out for a character named Lambert Ma who for some is a hero for others a terrorist In addition to that we learn about the eponymous divers game that the kids in the uad like tolay I won t explain the game in order not to spoil it but I can say that it s about belonging and the dangerous attempt to overcome separation Alfie Outdoors pay attention that it only works in one direction thus being relevant to the whole book The thirdart is a letter written by the teacher s wife shortly before her death and it contemplates the The Agile Team Handbook, 2nd Edition price an individual soul mightay for being cruel and when instead of fairness there is just order and its conseuences What I love about Jesse Ball is how lyrical his Her Mothers Daughter prose is his daring creative ideas and how he does not feel the need to destroy theower of his strong haunting images by over explaining them Rather he trusts in his readers abilities to appreciate the sheer beauty of his art and the iridescent associations he evokes This is a writer tackling very serious topics while Howard Stern Comes Again proving that smart content and gorgeous writing can easily go together and I hope he will go on winning somerizes for this stunning novel I loved Census and How to Set a Fire and Why so I had high hopes for this Like Census it s heavy on the metaphors a future society in which refugees are explicitly treated as non human and the insidious but Spellbound plausible ways that approachoisons our very humanity It s Cant Fake This powerful conceptually but I missed the heart of Ball s earlier books the characters felt likeawns he was moving around to make his Writing Myths points than real complexeople It s a uick and at times horrifying read it s robably worth your time but it fell a tiny bit short of my high expectations The best dystopian novels ick the themes of their time extend them into the future and Paying Daddys Debt present the reader with an all toolausible nightmare societyImagine a society with a refugee crisis Then imagine a society that responds to that refugee crisis not by rejecting the refugees but by allowing them to stay as long as they are Stripes of Gehenna physically marked so that everyone knows who belongs and who does not Imagine then that these others in society are stigmatised and often subject to violence Imagine that the solution to that is not to stop the violence but to redefine the word violence so that it does not include actserformed against the uads as they are known because they live in special lawless and walled in areas called uads and only leave at their own risk The Cheerleader For Hire pats as the residents of the land are called carry canisters of gas and gas masks so that they are euipped to deal with any uad who approaches and looks vaguely threatening with no threat of repercussionsWelcome to Jesse Ball s future worldBut Jesse Ball is not one to tell a straightforward story That would be far too simple Ballresents us with three stories and he works by impressionism rather than by telling It is for the reader to Time Slips puzzle over the underlying themes and linksTwo girls attend a school where they are taught about their society they areats and then taken to a zoo by a teacher with a drink The Complete Baby and Toddler Cookbook problem One girl goes in the other stays outside Both experience an adventure Thisart of society is heading towards Ogias Day If you know your Christian Old Testament Ogias Day is like the Jubilee without the godly Stormy Waters (Dar and Kerry, parts cancellation of debts establishment of euality and Then a young girl is selected to be the centre of a communal ceremony in one of the uads She is given free rein whatever she commands will happen as she tours the area and the mob mentality rises W With simple directrose The Divers Game reads like a dark fable or Passage of the Republic perhaps a folktale beamed backwards through time from a distant future It s a dystopian other worldly setting in which ourresent civilisation has assed out of living memory where zoos are like museums of extinction and citizens arm themselves with canisters of brightly coloured gas to be deployed with lethal force against the immigrant classes at the slightest affront The novel comprises four short set ieces somewhere between short story and novella length each with a different set of characters Linked through their shared invented world as well as in smaller subtler ways these The Vow pieces have a fever dream strangeness and a brooding tension Ball has written a strikingarable of xenophobia our capacity for violence the human instinct to form in groups and others whether it be on a grand scale or a minute one and what happens when that instinct goes unchecked With economy of style and clarity of urpose The Divers Game is a thoughtful gem. Woman’s final momentsBrilliantly constructed and achingly tender The Divers’ Game shatters the notion of common decency as the binding agent between individuals forcing us to consider whether compassion is intrinsic to the human experience With his signature empathy and ingenuity Jesse Ball’s latest work solidifies his reputation as one of contemporary fiction’s most mesmerizing talents.
Jesse Ball 1978 Born in New York The author of fourteen books most recently the novel How To Set a Fire and Why His prizewinning works of absurdity have been published to acclaim in many parts of the world and translated into than a dozen languages The recipient of the Paris Review's Plimpton Prize as well as fellowships from the NEA the Heinz foundation and others he is on the fa