News

The Dark Arts — A new short story in The New Yorker

5.13.2013

“On a dark winter morning at the Müllerhaus men’s hostel, Julian Bledstein reached for his Dopp kit. At home, he could medicate himself blindfolded, but here, across the ocean, it wasn’t so easy. The room stank, and more than one young man was snoring. The beds in the old gymnasium were singles, which didn’t keep certain of the guests from coupling when the lights went out. Sometimes Julian could hear them going at it, fornicating as if with silencers on. He studied the sounds when he couldn’t sleep, picturing the worst: animals strapped to breathing machines, children smothered under blankets. In the morning he could never tell just who had been making love. The men dressed and left for the day, avoiding eye contact, mesmerized in the glow of their cell phones.”

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The Guardian reviews The Flame Alphabet

4.30.2013

“What I found fascinating about this book, after its remarkable premise, which both invites and strongly resists allegorical interpretation, and the cold beauty of its prose, was my own reaction to it. I can put it no better than to say that this book got to me, and I started worrying whether Marcus had in fact achieved something darkly magical: the creation in readers of the very reaction he describes his characters having to language.”

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New Short Story in Granta

2.6.2013

grantaIn the world of the future, people exist in a perpetual state of rehearsing evacuations, and one man’s rehearsal involves leaving his parents behind.

A firespotter knows all too well that where there’s smoke, there’s fire – but fails to spot the blaze that consumes half her family.

Then there’s the Custer impersonator who takes his role in a re-enactment too literally, and too far. The massage therapist who struggles to help a veteran who’s biggest regret is tattooed in living detail across his back. The retired CIA operative, now a mother of two, who is still packing heat for the just-in-case scenario that has her trigger finger itching…

With award-winning reportage, memoir, fiction and photography, Granta has illuminated the most complex issues of modern life through the refractory light of literature. Feel the sting of betrayal via new writing by Ben MarcusJanine di GiovanniKaren RussellSamantha HarveyColin RobinsonJennifer VanderbesCallan WinkJohn Burnside and a host of others, including debut author Lauren Wilkinson, whose heroine moves through decades with the forward lean of Richard Yates and the grace of Garcia Marquez.

Granta 122: Betrayal

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Granta UK to reprint The Age of Wire and String

2.6.2013

Coming in May, with images by Catrin Morgan, Granta Books will reissue The Age of Wire and String.

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Readings in October

9.17.2012

I have a bunch of readings coming up in October. More details soon, but here are the basics.

9 October – The Guggenheim Museum, New York
10 October – The Paris Review, The Strand, New York
12 – 14 October – The Southern Festival of Books, Nashville
16 October – University of Pennsylvania
23 October – Seton Hall University
24 October – University of Richmond, Virginia
26 – 27 October – The Boston Book Festival

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The Financial Times reviews The Flame Alphabet

6.22.2012

“A similar disquieting sensation of old words taking on new and terrifying forms, of the visceral and the conceptual blending together, can be found in Ben Marcus’s funny and scary and all-out astounding new novel.”

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The Flame Alphabet reviewed in The Scotsman

6.2.2012

“THIS is, quite simply, one of the most powerful works of fiction it has ever been my privilege to read.”

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Watching Mysteries with My Mother, a short story, published by Electric Literature

5.23.2012

“I DON’T THINK MY MOTHER will die today. It’s late at night already. She’d have to die in the next forty-five minutes, which doesn’t seem likely. I just saw her for dinner. We ordered in and watched a mystery on PBS. She kissed me goodnight and I took a taxi home. For my mother to die today, things would need to take a rapid turn.”

From Electric Literature’s Recommended Reading

Kindle edition.

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Language as Body Horror: Slant Magazine on The Flame Alphabet

4.25.2012

“The Flame Alphabet portrays the emergence of a new kind of human born of a global union of metaphysical and physical suffering. With language we constantly impose doom upon ourselves, be it through religious prophecy or post-apocalyptic fiction, and Marcus gives us a fascinating glimpse of how we might react if that dismal tide of words turned real. If our own intellectual brilliance were to poison us, as it already does every day.”

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The Jewish Daily Forward Reviews The Flame Alphabet

3.6.2012

“Writers and thinkers from Saint Augustine to Paul Celan have lamented the limitations of language, the fallacy that is communication. The theme is hardly new territory for Marcus, whose earlier books play with language as a literary device, but this is the first time the subject informs the content, rather than the structure, of his work. In this novel, which, unlike his previous works, is written in linear, narrative form, the author questions our notions of thought as somehow uncontaminated by the mechanistic forces of life. Characters and even the storyline are secondary, and the novel’s strength lies in its evocation of one man’s search for meaning in a wordless universe.”

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