Episode 43 — Ben Marcus


Ben Marcus is today’s guest.  He’s the author of four books of fiction, the most recent of which is the critically acclaimed novel The Flame Alphabet, now available from Knopf.

“Think again,” writes Fiona Maazel at Book Forum.  “[The Flame Alphabet] can operate on multiple registers: as metaphor, sociology, conventional thriller, and, at bottom, discourse on parenthood and family that is freakishly sad and incredibly good.”

And George Saunders raves:  “I don’t use the word lightly, in fact, I don’t use it at all, but Ben Marcus is a genius, one of the most daring, funny, morally engaged and brilliant writers, someone whose work truly makes a difference in the world. His prose is, for me, awareness objectified—he makes the word new and thus the world.”

Topics of conversation include:  David Markson, literary collage, Brown, Robert Coover, Ralph Waldo Emerson, literary backstabbing, history, suicide, Nicholson Baker, WWII, writing strategies, reviews, teaching, kids, reading, attention spans, dismissiveness, self-imposed rules, primal circumstances, publishing, Yaddo, MacDowell Colony, Austin, Chicago, sports, water skiing, and how a book begins.

Monologue topics:  in-laws, artifacts of youth, stuff, hoarding, Smurfs, figurines, creepy dolls, retainers, smells, food, putrefaction, waste, and the dream of having nothing.