Ben Marcus. The Flame Alphabet

photo by Smiley.toerist

This is more accessible stuff Marcus-wise, but if you don’t read experimental fiction on a regular basis, you should start elsewhere, or work your way slowly into this book, or else you’ll get infuriated and frustrated and give it a 1-star review full of defensive ranting and attacks on people who people who sit around in writing classes talking about writing. Of course, for some of us, there is pleasure in sitting around thinking and talking about words. We don’t do it to be superior; we do it because it stimulates and challenges us and makes us happy. And we don’t do it because we have an immediate, intuitive grasp of a writer’s project; we do it because working our way toward understanding, even if it takes weeks or years, makes the world a little bit bigger and brighter. I didn’t understand everything in this book, but it’s my job, as a reader, to try to figure out why Marcus made the sometimes baffling and alienating choices he made. It’s not his job to stop baffling and alienating me. Sometimes, frustration can be illuminating.

Read: Jan. 2014

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