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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.
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