Additional Book Information
Publication Date: November 1, 2011
In the Time of the Blue Ball
by Manuela Draeger, translated from the French by Brian Evenson with Valerie Evenson
With the calm strangeness of dreams, and humor deepened by a hint of melancholy, these wonderful stories fool around on the frontiers of the imagination. All musical dogs, woolly crabs, children and other detectives of the not-yet-invented should own this book.
In three short stories with a distinct Murakami vibe, hapless investigator Bobby Potemkine threads his way through his city’s meteor-shredded ruins to find out which of several women named Lili has really invented fire, what to do about an angry noodle named Auguste Diodon, and how to rescue the many baby pelicans that litter the roads. Every page introduces another curiosity in Draeger’s cabinet of wonders.
The stories are dreamlike, cozy, and creepy and wistful all at once. They remind me of Tove Jansson’s Moomintroll stories, if the Moomin adventures unrolled against a backdrop of subtle bleakness. Everything’s happy, yet you feel like everything is destroyed. They also remind me of Chagall’s paintings, if the paintings were hanging in a bomb shelter.
Draeger is a French author of adolescent fiction, but she’s also a fictional character created by Antoine Volodine, which is a pen name of an anonymous French writer. In Volodine’s stories, Draeger is a containment-camp librarian who writes stories for children, but in France she’s published without that backstory. Thank god for The Dorothy Project, who published three of her stories in the US in a delirious, playful Brian Evenson translation called In the Time of the Blue Ball.
If you’ve ever read anything like Manuela Draeger’s In the Time of the Blue Ball, it must’ve been at least five green balls ago, because this book is strange and unlike other books.
—The Review of Contemporary Fiction
As with Roald Dahl and Dr. Seuss before her, Manuela Draeger materializes new phrases and places from nothing and inside of fresh and vastly imaginative stories.
—J.A. Tyler, Pank