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Census by Jesse Ball


by Jesse Ball

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17412102,920 (3.5)22
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    Lost Children Archive by Valeria Luiselli (booklove2)
    booklove2: sad yet humorous road trips with children

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Jesse Ball had a brother with Down Syndrome and as a child, he envisioned taking care of his brother when they were both adults. Sadly, his brother died in his 20s. Ball wrote this book to envision what that life might have been like, with the main character raising a child with Down Syndrome. In the novel, the father knows he is dying, so he and his son set off on a weird road trip. I've heard it took him a week to write this, but if this book was to honor his sweet hearted brother, I feel he should have put a little more work into it. With such a tough subject matter for him, the writing did seem at a remove. The book is one of those 'collection of profound tiny moments' sort of books (see Rachel Khong's 'Goodbye Vitamin'). But of the other from Jesse Ball I've read, he seems to write those sorts of books. This book reminded me of a Tarkovsky movie: the plot makes little sense but the details and imagery are freakin beautiful. ( )
  booklove2 | Mar 18, 2019 |
I really tried to like this more. I did not succeed. It was so mannered and distant. Staccato and episodic so that even if some of the episodes had flashes of brilliance they would have worked better as flash fiction because they weren't contributing to my sense of this novel.

The subject matter was so personal and heartbreaking that I couldn't get past the lack of emotion and intimacy in its presentation. It might have been fine as a shorter work, but as a full-length book, it was frustrating and exhausting. ( )
  asxz | Mar 13, 2019 |
Gratuitous (and gratuitously vague) dystopia setting aside, this book has a really strong emotional core and some beautiful imagery. "Marilyn Robinson's Gilead but in a dystopia road trip setting" is my one line summary... And unfortunately I would so pick Gilead over Census if I had to choose between the two. ( )
  KLmesoftly | Nov 18, 2018 |
This book was written to commemorate his deceased brother who was born with Down syndrome. He wanted to highlight how we all see the world differently and to come to terms with the prejudice and abuse his brother was subjected to because of his condition. I understand what the author was doing here and respect Jesse Bell, who is incredibly smart, but the reading experience was a bit boring. I also live the idea that we are all taking a census in our lives in the people we meet and leave a mark on. Beautiful message and writing, but slow. ( )
  redwritinghood38 | Nov 6, 2018 |
This book won the summer TOB and I don't think it should have. I liked understanding how Downs Syndrome child go through life but the Census story I found very lacking. This could be good for a book discussion because people would have a lot of thoughts, feelings and interpretations about the book. ( )
  kayanelson | Sep 21, 2018 |
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Learning that he does not have long to live and will need to figure out how to provide for his developmentally disabled adult son, a widower signs up as a census taker for a mysterious government bureau and leaves town with his son on a cross-country journey.… (more)

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