Excerpts from Jesse Ball’s ‘The Curfew’

The following are powerful excerpts that i have selected from Jesse Ball’s novel, ‘The Curfew’. 

—-

One thinks of the age when people died in winter, often, for no reason- or when children simply passed away without explaination or greif.

But is it true? Were they so hard that placed those small bodies in the earth? It is disputed- and though one may say, all is the same and relative, yet still clearly, there are some who are followed in the street by vengeful anger, a clothing they may never remove.

I said–life begins for some when it ends ofr others and in another century I might have died as an infant. What sort of riddle is it to suppose the greif my death would have entailed? Is it not the ground over that very grave that my life proceeds?

——

The effect of irrational belief on your art is invaluable.

——

Eldritch, Mara and Collin: A short, hurtful dream.

 

—–

“But for you, I want it to change. One day you will be the only one of us three remaining, and then the world that includes us will be inside of you and nowhere else.”

The author of this blog suggests that you read this novel. Now. 

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American Horror Story: The Rubber Man (Or, Tate, Why???)

Tate is the rubberman.

Tate appears to not be a very nice person.

Tate impregnated Vivian.

Tate sodomized Zachary Quinto’s man with a fire poker.

Tate terrorized Vivian again in cahoots with Hayden, sending her to crazy town (where Ben should be).

Tate convinced Violet to lie to the cops.

Suddenly, Tate shooting up his school seems to be a minor offense compared to how far that fire poker went up Zachary Quinto’s hubby’s ass.

It’s getting very hard to remember Tate as the sweater-wearing, aww worthy lover.

But, possibly the most ridiculous part of the episode was Ben Harmon insisting to the cops that he was, in fact, a licensed psychiatrist.

Oh, Ben, you kill me.

I pretty much want to kill Ryan Murphy, because this show is starting to get ridiculous. The one character I loved, Tate, has been transformed into just a vile, vile person after they spent so many episodes trying to convince us that he was essentially good, and had just been maniupluated by the house.

I’m so sad. I’m going to go watch the National Dog Show and bury my sorrows in a slice of pumpkin pie.

American Horror Story: Open house (Or, Ouch, I Don’t Like That Crunch Sound)

So, sorry for the lateness of this recap. I was so stunned by last week’s episode that i just recently regained my consciousness. Or just had a lot of midterms. Yeah, that’s probably why.

In fact, i’ve been so busy, I haven’t even payed a visit to my Animal Crossing town this week

This is just too perfect.

Anyways, let’s get to it:

So, turns out Larry and Constance got it on in the ’80s. I was kind of disappointed by this, as I have always supported the pairing Larry x Shovel.

Aww, a match made in the purgatory-like state of being that is the Murder House.

We also got to meet Constance’s son, who had a deformity akin to that which was seen in the movie The Mask– not the one with Jim Carey, the one with Cher.

What a treasure of American Cinema.

So anyways, Larry offs this son, Beau, but then is surreptitiously dumped by Constance, who seems to be somewhat of a royal bitch. Sorry Jessica Lange.

"I'm so hurt."

Vivian, finally realizing that a place called the Murder House may not be the best environment to rear children, tries to sell the house.  A man whose ethnicity is the point of much contention due to terrible script-writing decides to buy the house. Moira, thinking this will lead to the discovery of her backyard corpse, gives the guy a quick blowie in Violet’s room. Afterwards, the mysteriously ethiniced man reveals to Ben, the world’s worst psychiatrist, that he plans to level the Murder House and make it into affordable housing. This leads Moira to later bite off his dick witha  resounding crunch.

"Oops, did I do that?"

I’d feel bad for the guy if he wasn’t such a misogynistic asshole. Also, knowing this show, there was probably some sort of zombie haunted indian burial ground underneath the Murder House that would have prevented the building of an apartment complex. Because that’s typically the way things go on FX.

Season Two, in all likelihood.

Speaking of FX, let’s talk about how sick I am of the commercials that they repeat every. single. week.

Yes, FX, we know your programming consists of Twilight, Transformers 2 (the racist one), and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. No need to remind us.

Really, he is? Because i'm sick of seeing his face every commercial break. Give me Tate in a sweater any day.

Really, that’s pretty much it for this episode. The only theory:

-Tate seemed a little bit suspicious when he explained to Violet how ghosts worked. Is he playing her?

Well, the next episode is TONIGHT and the commercials have portended Violet getting her cherry popped by Tate. Naked Tate. Sweaterless Tate.

I can’t wait.

The Candy Kingdom

Playlist: November

Here’s what i’ve been listening to latley:

The Way We Get By……..Spoon

In The Aeroplane Over the Sea……Neutral Milk Hotel

Apartment……………………….Young the Giant

Two Weeks…………………………..Grizzly Bear

Montezuma…………………Fleet Foxes

Girl Inform Me……………The Shins

Fools………………………..The Dodos

The Great Salt Lake……….Band of Horses

Cough Syrup…………………Young the Giant

The Shrine/ An Argument……Fleet Foxes

Special Death……………………Mirah

Together We Can Live Forever…….Clint Mansell

Ragged Wood………………………….Fleet Foxes

Of Angels and Angles…………….The Decemberists

My Body…………………………..Young the Giant

 

A Brief Love Affair With Skrillex

I hate dubstep.

I really, perniciously hate dubstep.

But the other day, my friend Joseph and I were watching the return of Beavis and Butthead, which, let me tell you, Mike Judge handled with much aplomb.

"She said handled." "Hehheheheheheheheh."

They’re back to their usual shtick: making fun of music videos, the whole nine yards.

Now let me clarify: I am mostly into folk rock and classic rock. Joseph is a diehard prog purist.

Beavis and Butthead played the music video “First of the Year (Equinox)” by Skrillex, an ear worm if i’ve ever heard one, sampling the shrill shriek of a woman crying “CALL 911 NOW!” as its main chorus, followed by  a plethora of bass drops and WOM WOM WOM BAAAAMs. The music video itself is about a serial pedophile getting the shit kicked out of him by a magical little girl and her daemon friend. It’s so awful.

But it has a hold on me, much like the daemon girl has a hold on the pedophile's jugular as she rips the life from him.

The video ends with the daemon girl counting off tallie marks, most presumably numbering the poor, defenseless Dubstep haters who have been sucked into Skrillex’s deathtrap by this unbelievably catchy song.

Another one bites the dust.

So, i guess this all has been a lesson in humility: you can be a musical hipster all you want; you can claim to hate Skrillex and all that he stands for. But no one, no one, is resistant to the forces of a toe-tapping tune.

Even if it's by this guy.

American Horror Story: Piggy, Piggy (Or, is it bad that i still like Tate?)

Well, last night’s episode was quite a trip.

Let’s just take a moment to applaud Ben Harmon for getting through this episode without crying.

"The pain!"

That being said, Ben might be the worst psychiatrist in the history of ever, and should have his license revoked forever and always. But we’ll come back to that later.

In other news, this episode guest-starred Cam from Modern Family. My only critique is that he wasn’t sassy and gay enough.

This episode lacked...this.

Anyways, not-so-sassy-gay Cam played the role of one of Ben’s patients (god save him), who has an irrational fear of Urban Legends. I’ll admit that, I too, was once afraid of an urban legend. I couldn’t look in a mirror for six months after that episode of South park where Butters summons Biggie Smalls.

Some scary shit.

So anyways, in order to treat Cam, Ben makes him go into a bathroom, stare into the mirror, and chant this urban legend rhyme that is supposed to summon the ghost of a deranged pig vendor. In the Murder House. Alone.

"I'm so bad at my job."

Anyways, that plotline wasn’t very interesting, and just involved Cam getting shot in some nonsensical plot twist. because, of course.

"Now I can get back to being gay and sassy!"

So, then there was another kind of maybe interesting subplot involving Vivian and her daemon seed. Basically, she goes to a church, where the crazy hospital technician who passed out last episode has been taking refuge. Because the baby inside Vivian’s baby is fucking satan. And then she’s all like, “Vivian, your baby is fucking Satan or some shit. It’s like, not right. It has hooves and seems like it might be Lucifer himself.” And Vivian is all like, “Naw dog, I got this, my baby is legit.”

"My baby is fine, thank you very much. He's only the product of my sex romp with a spandex-clad stranger. He's legit."

And she might be fucking the sexy black cop. But, again, this really isn’t the important part.

The important part is Tate.

It always is.

We finally find out about Tate’s past. Long story short: he shot up his school, and then was shot at least 15 times in the chest by a SWAT team. Real happy stuff.

See, he seems happy. Everything is all hunky-dory.

By the way, this was 1994. So when Violet realizes this (thank you, Google!), she flips a bitch and tries to kill herself. Tate saves her in what might have been the cutest moment in television history.

We love you too, Tate.

Then you realize that Tate murdered around 20 people and that you should be reviled by him.

But gosh darnit, he’s so frigging cute!

Anyways, after a little more digging, Violet discovers that Tate was a pretty normal guy before he shot up the school. Just a normal teenage boy who likes books about birds. That’s normal, right?

Anyways, the episode ends with them spooning (Tate being the little spoon– que the squeeeees).

So here are my theories:

-They still made Tate likable, even after showing his gruesome crime. i don’t think they would do this unless the house made him do it.

– In addition, I think that the house also made other residents, like Larry, commit their crimes.

-Tate is the best.

That is all.

This song is getting me through the day…

“Cough Syrup” by Young the Giant

 

Monochromacy

“I do not see in color. I see only in blacks, and in whites, and in shades of useless, shadowed gray,” he says to me, placing his fingers on my arm, rubbing the tips of his nails against my blonde hairs, almost scraping against-

“I think I saw green once. That is, I saw a weird light shine on the grass, and my brother told me that grass is green. But maybe I didn’t really see green at all. Maybe it was blue or cream or chestnut. Maybe it was periwinkle. Violet, rose, magenta…” He trails off, blinking his eyelids, heavy with sleep. The train wears heavy on its’ tracks, and he begins to snore against my shoulder. I try to see the world like he does, sometimes. I try to see the world in Casablanca monochrome, a dizzying frenzy of shadow and light, never quite sliding into the Technicolor haze to which I have become accustom. I stare at the grass and try to see it as hazy grey sheaths of life. The dew is silver and the dead grass is white and the stalk is the most beautiful shade of charcoal I have ever seen.

* * *

We met on the train to Normandy. It was winter and I had forgotten to pack my heavy coat. I was miserable in the most gorgeous country in the world.

I was focused on my manuscript then, back when I thought it was any good, and he watched me try to scratch heavy letters with the blunt tip of an antique fountain pen into the rough curves of a parchment paper notebook, which made from the recycled soles of abandoned shoes.

“How pretentious,” he noted. “A fountain pen. Parchment paper.”

I hadn’t noticed him there. Truthfully, he was plain- a stick with copper wire-rims and the complexion of a stubbled, greasy teenager. He wore his auburn hair long, so it sat on his shoulders, the split ends colliding with his rough wool sweater.

I tell him that I don’t believe in writing if it’s easy. That if Shakespeare could write with a quill, I could certainly write with my grandfather’s fountain pen.

“The difference is that Shakespeare was an artist,” He says. I stare into his eyes, a sparkling shade of blue that he himself will never see.

“And I’m not?”

He sighs and leans against the train’s window. “Why are you in France?”

His voice is lightly accented, like a Parisian who attended an American school, reading British literature and watching Russian films.

I tell him I’m here for inspiration. It’s partially true, anyways.

“See, that’s the thing. A real artist need not leave their own bedroom to write their magnum opus.”

* * *

I’m in my bedroom now, and I haven’t written my magnum opus, or even its’ rough draft. Cat hair clings to all the sofas and all of the woolen sweaters he gave me. I haven’t paid my electric bill in three months. I sleep in my winter coat. A postcard taped to my bathroom mirror reads “Allons-y au Paris!” and on it there’s a kitten rubbing its’ whiskers on the Eiffel Tower. A few weeks ago I couldn’t stop vomiting. I wretched and I wretched and out came everything I had ever eaten. The carpets are now stained brown, but not a drop got on the postcard, so at least there’s that.

* * *

The train stops at Mont St. Michel, and we all got off for breakfast. He followed me, not saying a word, and we silently picked a café together. The waitress doesn’t know the word bacon, and when it comes it is different than the greasy, fatty strips of broiled flesh that I’m used to making for myself over the stove. They taste like strips of food, pink and savory, covered in butter and laced with a sort of chutney, a wonderful sort of chutney.  He tells me about St. Michel.

“It’s an island, but not really.”

I don’t understand until he takes me to an overlook, carved into a rocky outcropping. We are surrounded by water on all sides.

“Then how did the bus drive up here?” I ask.

The water flows and recedes, he says. It was dry land then.

In the distance, sheep graze on grass and run along the hillsides. I wonder later if the sheep could see the greenness of the grass, the way the foggy sunrise cast a pink shadow on each stalk. I spend ten minutes just admiring the grass swaying in the breeze, the tide crashing against the base of the mount. He sends it staring at the pen I’ve tucked behind my floppy ear.

* * *

Later that night he nibbles on the ear, sucking it and tasting it, leaving ruby red bite marks that trail down towards my neck. I am an island, but not really. Sometimes I’m alone, but other times I’m surrounded by cool water that fills me and sustains me. The holy water of life and lust and love and listless hours that John the Baptist poured on Jesus’ head and said “And it is good.”

I try to remember this when I get home to my apartment in Wichita. I pick up the phone to call my mother, to tell her I’ve met someone. I hang up on the third ring. I always forget she’s a bigoted fuck when I reach for the phone.

* * *

I keep getting trapped in dreams. My alarm goes off and I try to reach for it but I’m still stuck elsewhere. On a train from Paris to the beaches up north. In a bedroom, nibbling on his chest. On top of the mount while the tides pour their briny spittle against the rocks.

I begin to be glad that I’m unemployed. I don’t really have anything to wake up for, and I let the alarm chirp while I dangle my feet into the icy waters of Normandy.

Can you imagine how many people died here?

I always ask him this just as the alarm goes off. He sits in silence until my mind breaks free, and I never hear his answer.

* * *

Thierry,

Did you know that there’s a tribe in Africa that sees colors totally different than everyone else? It’s because they have different words for the colors, and they bunch all sorts of colors together in groups. They have their own words, like the Japanese call savory foods unami and we can only kind of picture what that means. Can you imagine? Their eyes are the same, but they see different things.

There are so many things that I can’t see that you can. I can see the pink light on the grass but I can’t see why that should make me any happier than a withered patch of desert shrubs, tumbling, alone. A life without color; a life without resilience.

-Jack

* * *

“I do not see in color. I see only in blacks, and in whites, and in shades of useless, shadowed gray,” he says to me, placing his fingers on my arm, rubbing the tips of his nails against my blonde hairs, this time scraping against them.

“How did you get these?” he asks. “When did you get these?”

“Yesterday.”

“Why?”

“I was alone.”

“Aren’t you alone every day?”

“Not every day, not always.”

* * *

I don’t see him for a few days. I sit on the beach alone and suck at the end of my pen, licking at ink. The tide washes against rocks, against abandoned bunkers and loose hunks of scrap metal.

I dig the tip of the pen into my arm and write a story.

Nobody reads it because it isn’t very good.

* * *

To:

Jack Yearly, Wichita, Kansas, 67203, USA.

Jack,

In reviewing your piece, Polychrome, we found many factual errors. We enjoyed the vivid descriptions of color and the beautiful images you evoked. Your piece had an iridescence that almost lifted off the page. However, a third person account of a man’s romance with another man is hardly hard-hitting travel writing. In fact, it’s not even travel writing at all. Your descriptions of Mont St. Michel and the northern regions of France bear little factual integrity. It is as if you had never been there, save through books and online articles. Perhaps your work would be better suited for a literary magazine.

Best,

The World Informer

P.O. Box 22330

New York, New York 10292

 

* * *

“’I think I saw green once. That is, I saw a weird light shine on the grass, and my brother told me that grass is green. But maybe I didn’t really see green at all. Maybe it was blue or cream or chestnut. Maybe it was periwinkle. Violet, rose, magenta…’”

“Monochromacy is very rare in humans,” she says. “Are you sure that’s what he had?”

I tell her I’m positive. I repeat what he said. I show her the postcard he wrote me last weekend. She stares at the kitten and the Eiffel tower briefly, then flips it over, fingers the glossy edges.

“20 mg, Prozac, once a day. Take this to the pharmacy, get it filled. Don’t forget. “

Her prescription pad is sea foam green, and the ink is a subdued shade of aquamarine.

She asks if she can keep the postcard.

* * *

MAILER DEAMON: DO NOT REPLY:

THE FOLLOWING (16) MESSAGES COULD NOT BE DELIVERED.

ERROR TYPE: UNKOWN ADDRESS

RETURN TO USER: JJYEARLEY

* * *

I sit on the beach alone, writing stories into my skin, but this time he joins me. He spreads a tattered blanket on the sand and motions for me to sit next to him. He pulls off his sweater and hands it to me.

“How could you forget?”

“My sweater? It’s not important, really. I’m not cold.”

“Not the sweater, Jack.”

I didn’t forget, not really. It’s sitting on my kitchen counter. It’s orange and opaque, with blue trim around the lid. 20 mg, once a day.

I’m afraid to be lonely, really. I’m afraid that if I take the chalky egg-shell colored pills that I’ll lose the beach, the blanket, the winter air, the tides. I’ll lose the pink on the stalks and I’ll lose him.

“I’ll lose you.”

He rubs my arm, feels the scars.  I ask him what color the water is.

“Grey.”

A Just Man

Inspired by the text of Matthew: 1.

Make an example of me:

Ripe with child, round, covered in

The afterbirth of a summer’s evening,

A picnic blanket, the sea, then his bed.

 

He turns a blind eye,

Because he is a just man, because he

Senses in me the vulnerability of a virgin

A lost little girl clutching to the bedpost.

 

In the supermarket, nervous glances

Cajole me into grasping at his back,

Grasping at straws, asking him,

Do you want me, and do you want us?

 

His pity seems to me like

Almost an excuse to gain the upper hand,

But under oath of the lord he says,

“I want you both,: and I believe him.

 

A boy is born,

Under the evening star and swaddled

In an old t-shirt – what else,

And he’s perfect, and he’s mine.

 

“He’s ours,” he says, but we both know

that the boy’s father is not here, and he

marries me anyways under the light of a half-moon,

and claims the boy as his own, his only.

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