Skip to Content

Census by Jesse Ball []



How does one convey a sense of understanding about something that is significantly hard to describe – whether due to its ephemeral qualities, or because the subject is profoundly personal? Author Jesse Ball writes about this challenge in the introduction to his newest book Census, stating that he “realized I would make a book that was hollow,” when trying to figure out how to write about his deceased older brother. Ball makes an astounding attempt by writing around the difficulty being investigated, and so creates a contour by which details emerge and a sense of the indescribable can be gleaned.

A book perhaps essentially about empathy, on both a personal and cultural level – prescient of our current social atmosphere where some philosophy on understanding others might be a bit lacking. Written with simple yet poetic prose, which will likely garner the re-reading of passages when finding yourself bowled over by the dense sentiments embedded within a short paragraph. And an impressive amount of language pushing, which holds up against the steep standards placed by the comparisons to Borges and Calvino that Ball has received. Truly otherworldly writing in the best ways that those giants of literature have shown to be possible.

A road trip from towns A to Z with tattooing and physiotelepathy – this is my current favorite book of 2018!

Tagged: , , ,