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"In twenty-nine separate but ingenious ways, these stories seek permanent residence within a reader. They strive to become an emotional or intellectual cargo that might accompany us wherever, or however, we go. . . . If we are made by what we read, if language truly builds people into what they are, how they think, the depth with which they feel, then these stories are, to me, premium material for that construction project. You could build a civilization with them. " --Ben Marcus, from the Introduction Award-winning author ofNotable American WomenBen Marcus brings us this engaging and comprehensive collection of short stories that explore the stylistic variety of the medium in America today. Sea Oakby George Saunders Everything Ravaged, Everything Burnedby Wells Tower Do Not Disturbby A. M. Homes The Girl in the Flammable Skirtby Aimee Bender The Caretakerby Anthony Doerr The Old Dictionaryby Lydia Davis The Father's Blessingby Mary Caponegro The Life and Work of Alphonse Kaudersby Aleksandar Hemon People Shouldn't Have to be the Ones to Tell Youby Gary Lutz Histories of the Undeadby Kate Braverman When Mr. Pirzada Came to Dineby Jhumpa Lahiri Down the Roadby Stephen Dixon X Number of Possibilitiesby Joanna Scott Tiny, Smiling Daddyby Mary Gaitskill Brief Interviews with Hideous Menby David Foster Wallace The Sound Gunby Matthew Derby Short Talksby Anne Carson Field Eventsby Rick Bass Scarliotti and the Sinkholeby Padgett Powell From the Trade Paperback edition.
In The Flame Alphabet, the most maniacally gifted writer of our generation delivers a work of heartbreak and horror, a novel about how far we will go, and the sorrows we will endure, in order to protect our families. A terrible epidemic has struck the country and the sound of children's speech has become lethal. Radio transmissions from strange sources indicate that people are going into hiding. All Sam and Claire need to do is look around the neighborhood: In the park, parents wither beneath the powerful screams of their children. At night, suburban side streets become routes of shameful escape for fathers trying to get outside the radius of affliction. With Claire nearing collapse, it seems their only means of survival is to flee from their daughter, Esther, who laughs at her parents' sickness, unaware that in just a few years she, too, will be susceptible to the language toxicity. But Sam and Claire find it isn't so easy to leave the daughter they still love, even as they waste away from her malevolent speech. On the eve of their departure, Claire mysteriously disappears, and Sam, determined to find a cure for this new toxic language, presses on alone into a world beyond recognition. The Flame Alphabet invites the question: What is left of civilization when we lose the ability to communicate with those we love? Both morally engaged and wickedly entertaining, a gripping page-turner as strange as it is moving, this intellectual horror story ensures Ben Marcus's position in the first rank of American novelists.
Haunting in their tone, brilliant in their images--very like fantastic presences moving across glass--the twenty-one fictions in this startling debut collection seem both inexplicably familiar and like no writing we have seen before.The opening story leads us through a kaleidoscopic series of thoughts and memories around the act of writing a letter. Another, an intricately structured document of documents--household inventories, daily calendars, property deeds, an announcement--suggests the reality overflowing these mundane markers of our lives. Yet another traces the histories of five artifacts, while at the same time slyly assembling five miniature biographical portraits.
By turns hilarious and heartfelt, dark and illuminative, Ben Marcus's Leaving the Sea is a ground breaking collection of stories from one of the single most vital, extraordinary, and unique writers of his generation.In the heartfelt "I Can Say Many Nice Things," a washed-up writer toying with infidelity leads a creative writing workshop on board a cruise ship. In the dystopian "Rollingwood," a divorced father struggles to take care of his ill infant, as his ex-wife and colleagues try to render him irrelevant. In "Watching Mysteries with My Mother," a son meditates on his mother's mortality, hoping to stave off her death for as long as he sits by her side. And in the title story, told in a single breathtaking sentence, we watch as the narrator's marriage and his sanity unravel, drawing him to the brink of suicide. Surreal and tender, terrifying and life-affirming, Leaving the Sea is the work of an utterly unique writer at the height of his powers.al strategies to navigate the terrors of adulthood, one opting to live in a lightless cave and another methodically setting out to recover total childhood innocence; an automaton discovers love and has to reinvent language to accommodate it; filial loyalty is seen as a dangerous weakness that must be drilled away; and the distance from a cubicle to the office coffee cart is refigured as an existential wasteland, requiring heroic effort. In these piercing, brilliantly observed investigations into human vulnerability and failure, it is often the most absurd and alien predicaments that capture the deepest truths. Surreal and tender, terrifying and life-affirming, Leaving the Sea is the work of an utterly unique writer at the height of his powers.
In New American Stories, the beautiful, the strange, the melancholy, and the sublime all comingle to show the vast range of the American short story . In this remarkable anthology, Ben Marcus has corralled a vital and artistically singular crowd of contemporary fiction writers. Collected here are practitioners of deep realism, mind-blowing experimentalism, and every hybrid in between. Luminaries and cult authors stand side by side with the most compelling new literary voices. Nothing less than the American short story renaissance distilled down to its most relevant, daring, and unforgettable works, New American Stories puts on wide display the true art of an American idiom.
Ben Marcus achieved cult status and gained the admiration of his peers with his first book, The Age of Wire and String. With Notable American Women he goes well beyond that first achievement to create something radically wonderful, a novel set in a world so fully imagined that it creates its own reality.On a farm in Ohio, American women led by Jane Dark practice all means of behavior modification in an attempt to attain complete stillness and silence. Witnessing (and subjected to) their cultish actions is one Ben Marcus, whose father, Michael Marcus, may be buried in the back yard, and whose mother, Jane Marcus, enthusiastically condones the use of her son for (generally unsuccessful) breeding purposes, among other things. Inventing his own uses for language, the author Ben Marcus has written a harrowing, hilarious, strangely moving, altogether engrossing work of fiction that will be read and argued over for years to come.From the Trade Paperback edition.
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