News

The Grow-Light Blues — A new short story in The New Yorker

6.15.2015

“Carl Hirsch didn’t do holiday parties. At least, not correctly. All the so-called people, wind streaming from their faces. Fleshy machines spewing pollution, fucking up the environment. If he squinted, the celebrating bodies of his co-workers very nearly blistered into molecules, shining with color. Too often the whole of it—people, places, and things—looked to scatter. Everyone on the verge of turning to soup. So what if there was no precedent for a full-scale human melt, bodies reduced to liquid pouring from a window? You could still worry about it. Sometimes you had to.”

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The Guardian reviews LEAVING THE SEA

4.17.2014

“Ben Marcus is one of the most stunningly original and profoundly unsettling writers of his generation. His subtle kinks of syntax, his daring choices of individual words and combinations of them, which seem a quarter tone out but somehow wholly right, the reiterated concerns – a pervading sense of guilt, the surrealism of sexuality, dangerous but necessary generational relationships – do not make for easy reading. That is not to say that he is a difficult writer; merely that he deals with strong emotional material in a unique and experimental style. Reading Marcus is liable to induce a kind of literary vertigo.”

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The New York Review of Books reviews LEAVING THE SEA

2.7.2014

“Marcus’s early writings strike me as extraordinary feats of transposition; their goal appears to be to create a linguistic simulacrum of a new medium or unknown dimension of being, in which familiar words and scenarios take on radically different kinds of implication, of weight or lightness, as if the laws of gravity had suddenly changed.”

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The New York Times reviews LEAVING THE SEA

1.26.2014

“Ben Marcus achieved the startling visions of his first story collection, “The Age of Wire and String,” and the novels “Notable American Women” and “The Flame Alphabet” largely by placing the reader in strange and unfamiliar worlds that turned out to be our world after all. The stories of his new collection, “Leaving the Sea,” still contain peculiar linguistic and perceptual tics, but he has added to his arsenal narratives that are less relentlessly unfamiliar, less rigorously dis-enchanted, populated by characters full of longing and visible regret…”

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The Oregonian reviews LEAVING THE SEA

1.15.2014

“”Leaving the Sea” includes some of the best stories I have read in years. If you haven’t yet read Marcus, “Leaving the Sea” is a magnificent, and magnificently discomfiting, place to start.”

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The Toronto Star reviews LEAVING THE SEA

1.10.2014

“The stories in Leaving the Sea range a great deal in terms of style, from a fairly realistic portrayal of intergenerational domestic conflict to a ribbon of metafiction consisting of a single run-on-and-on sentence. Underlying all the diversity, however, is a consistent set of anxieties surrounding the alienated figure of the contemporary middle-aged American male. What Ben Marcus offers is a sort of literary shock treatment for these shut-ins.”

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The Daily Beast reviews LEAVING THE SEA

1.8.2014

“It’s a recurring theme in Leaving the Sea that violently destructive forces lurk both inside and out.”

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NPR reviews LEAVING THE SEA

1.7.2014

“As the book progresses Marcus tears up the rulebook completely. And it works beautifully. Words are rearranged on the page and meanings are deconstructed. The world we have entered into, Marcus explains, is “dreamlike, with artificial colors.””

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The New Yorker blog reviews Leaving the Sea

1.2.2014

“The protagonists in Marcus’s new collection of disturbing and excruciatingly funny short stories (several of them first published in The New Yorker) are socially inappropriate, alienated from their lovers and relatives, anxious, bitter, mortified, lonely—“you could pretty much go shopping from a list of adjectives,” as one character puts it.”

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I Can Say Many Nice Things — A new short story in Harper’s

11.19.2013

From the forthcoming story collection, Leaving the Sea.

“Fleming awoke in the dark and his room felt loose, sloshing so badly he gripped the bed. From his window there was nothing but a hallway, and if he craned his neck, a blown lightbulb swung into view. The room pitched up and down and for a moment he thought he might be sick. The word “hallway” must have a nautical name. Why didn’t they supply a glossary for this cruise? Probably they had, in the welcome packet he’d failed to read. A glossary. A history of the boat, which would be referred to as a ship. Sunny biographies of the captain and crew, who had alwaysdreamed of this life. Lobotomized histories of the islands they’d visit. Who else had sailed this way. Famous suckwads from the past, slicing through this very water on wooden longships.”

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