The Curfew, Jesse Ball’s third and slimmest novel for Vintage, contains within its pages the best sentence the young novelist and poet has yet written: “Is it not on the ground over that very grave that my life proceeds?” It’s a rhetorical question, and the contrast it presents (life and grave) is no accident. Ball is a strange paradox of a writer—his prose is as simple as stage directions but at the same time impenetrable, often because he whittles his sentences to nonsense. At his best, Ball