Ball: Stories

Ball: Stories - Tara Ison

Thank you to Soft Skull Press for providing me with an egalley copy of the book to review.


Initially I wasn’t sure what to make of the collection. The summary sounded promising and I wanted to read something raw, dark, and genuine for once, to take my mind off the required readings I had for class. The first story, “Cactus”, was probably the tamest of all the stories, now that I think back to it. It explains the reason why I felt so confused after finishing it, wondering if the rest of the collection would go in the same direction. It was at that point that I began to slightly fear where the collection was going.


Then came the title story, “Ball”, and admittedly it was after reading it that I put the book down and debated my reaction, trying to figure out which of the two was stronger: my anger at how ridiculous and disturbing the narrator was, or the dark, equally disturbing fascination I felt. In the end the later won out, and it is after continuing with the rest of the stories that I understood that was the better reaction.


This short story collection is not for everyone. It isn’t for people who want an answer to some of the twisted, and frankly stupid, actions that some of the characters make throughout the collection. But it is beautiful for that very same reason, for the ridiculous actions that make you wonder why or how, in almost every case then making you instantly want to know what’ll happen next. It had a dark power over me while I read, and after much mauling over of the information I realized that ‘Ball: Stories” provided me with the very experience I had been looking for. There was a naked ugliness to these characters and stories that isn’t necessarily easy to love but is easy to feel fascinated with. They elicit many reactions from the reader and there was only one story – “Needles” – that I had genuinely not understood or related to. But other than that I enjoyed this collection very much, it a rather unexpected but nonetheless pleasant way. It is a worthwhile read for those that aren’t the faint of heart, who do not fear seeing the truly grim parts of human nature with all its twisted ways.