On Our Shelves Now
With these thirteen transfixing, ingenious stories, Ben Marcus gives us timely dystopian visions of alienation in a modern world--cosmically and comically apt. Never has existential catastrophe been so much fun.
In "The Grow-Light Blues," a hapless, corporate drone finds love after being disfigured testing his employer's newest nutrition supplement--the enhanced glow from his computer monitor. A father finds himself outcast from his family when he starts to suspect that his son's precocity has turned sinister in the chilling "Cold Little Bird." In "Blueprints for St. Louis," two architects in a flailing marriage consider the ethics of artificially inciting emotion in mourners at their latest assignment--a memorial to a terrorist attack.
In the bizarre but instantly recognizable universe of Ben Marcus's fiction, characters encounter both surreal new illnesses and equally surreal new cures. Marcus writes beautifully, hilariously, and obsessively, about sex and death, lust and shame, the indignities of the body, and the full parade of human folly. A heartbreaking collection of stories that showcases the author's compassion, tenderness, and mordant humor. Blistering, beautiful work from a modern master.
A heartbreaking collection of stories that showcases the author's compassion, tenderness, and mordant humor--blistering, beautiful work from a modern master.
About the Author
Ben Marcus is the author of four books of fiction-- The Age of Wire and String, Notable American Women, The Flame Alphabet, and Leaving the Sea--and is the editor of two short story anthologies: The Anchor Book of New American Short Stories, and New American Stories. His fiction, essays, and reviews have appeared in Granta, Harper's, The New Yorker, The Paris Review, McSweeney's, The Believer, The New York Times, and Tablet. Among his awards are a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Berlin Prize, a Whiting Writers Award, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in fiction, and three Pushcart Prizes. He lives with his family in New York City, where he is on the faculty at Columbia University.
"The Literary Answer to ‘Black Mirror’... [Marcus] is an engrossing, poetically surreal writer. He’s often woundingly funny."
—The New York Times Book Review
"Exceptional... Each story is quietly eerie with electric characters who move through settings that look and sound exactly like our reality but are subtly disoriented, as if in a trick mirror."
—The Paris Review
"One of Marcus’s strengths [is] imagining a future which is similar enough to our world to seem plausible, but different enough for the reader to grasp the ramifications of certain fates with which our current world is flirting."
"Ruthless and hilarious"
"The wilder and more Swiftian the plots get, the more intimately the stories seem to evoke a lived reality."
"Each story features moments of considered, lacerating prose threaded together by sentences that, like a marionette’s strings, bring the world to full, expansive life. This is a bracing, forceful collection."
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Beautiful, heartbreaking, impeccably crafted and original meditations on, and figurations of, how it feels to be a human, a father, an American, at the hither edge of the 21st century.”
“To read Ben Marcus is to discover a new language, trapped inside of the old one. Sentences that cut through every layer straight to the heart of the matter. Writing that startles you into wakefulness. You know all these words but have never seen them used like this before. To read Ben Marcus is to be challenged and entertained and inspired all at once.”