The Flame Alphabet Hardcover – 7 Jun 2012
Customers Who Viewed This Item Also Viewed
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
A measure of the book's success is that it enforces not just a suspension of disbelief, but for a while total surrender of the faculty of reason ... The drama of parental obsolescence is sharply articulated, as is the condition of terrorised parental love --Guardian
An unforgettable experience. This is, quite simply, one of the most powerful works of fiction it has ever been my privilege to read ...
As I approached the final pages I felt tearful, nauseous, shivery, exhausted, terrified and short of breath ... It is a novel which has profound things to say about matters metaphysical but does so in a way that creates a physiological response ... The Flame Alphabet is a revelation and a castigation ... literature that makes sense of our age and will be read in ages to come --Scotsman
Ben Marcus s new novel is an eye-burning high-literary encounter with science fiction ... The Flame Alphabet is abuzz throughout with the kind of scorching prose that we d expect from such bona fide American literature hot stuff --Dazed & Confused
About the Author
Ben Marcus is the author of three previous books; Notable American Women, The Father Costume, and The Age of Wire and String. His work has appeared in The New Yorker, The Paris Review, The Believer, The New York Times, and McSweeney's. He has received a Whiting Writers Award, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in fiction, a grant for Innovative Literature from the Creative Capital Foundation and three Pushcart Prizes. He is an associate professor at Columbia University.
What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?
Top Customer Reviews
I thought it was going to be an easy, pulpy sci-fi, dystopian, post apocalyptic novel. Perhaps with a peppering of philosophy about the use of language.
Oh, boy. This is not that.
I was constantly amazed by Marcus's inventive cleverness. I have never read anything like this, and I'm not sure if I've ever been quite as affected by a book as much as this.
Normally, if a book gets its hooks into me, I end up constantly thinking about the characters. Or, to a lesser extent, the world or the central theme. This was like plugging a raw emotion into my mind. Unfortunately, the emotion was akin to disgust or perhaps despair, so this will never be my favourite book.
But as a work of fiction, it is incredible.
The basic premise is simple - language becomes toxic and only the young are immune. The main protagonist is married with a teenage daughter, and the focus is on his struggle to survive and look after his family. He and his wife are also "forest Jews" - worshipping in a hidden hut in the forest, by themselves, listening to supposed broadcasts from some unknown location using somewhat vaguely described equipment.
The concept is good, the prose is excellent (though perhaps a little OTT at times). I did find it strangely compelling, though where it falls down is that I failed to find a coherent storyline, or at least one that - written simply - would keep the reader enthralled. I didn't understand why the forest jew angle was supposedly important (there is mention of the "disease" originating with this group of people, but not much beyond that). In the end I was just a bit confused about the motivations of some of the characters, and the relevance of the religious angle.
Without giving too much away, the plot concerns a virus that’s sweeping society which is caused by language. Only the children are immune, and their ordinary speech can inflict horrible reactions in adults.
I’m not a fan of the science fiction genre, and this is not the sort of book that I would normally read, but I was recommended it by someone whose judgement I trust and I was glad I did. It is an imaginative and original novel despite the bleak subject matter, and I was interested enough to see it through to the end. Communication, philosophy of language, identity, deceit, family bonds and religious dogmatism are all subject which are explored in the text.
I had to give it five stars. It is a very impressive piece of writing and I intend to explore more of his work. If you like experimental challenging writing then I recommend this - but it’s definitely not for everyone. It’s a nightmarish story told urgently, and it’s relentlessly odd. There’s barely a chink of light shining through the impenetrable queasy cloud he creates.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
It looked great, the brilliant cover, and the idea at the heart of this book sounded even better.
Language as an infectious disease, a vicious condition verbally transmitted... Read more
this is one of the most fantastic books I have ever read
It challenges the nature of language and relationship and the fundamentals of life
the prose is fantastic
it... Read more
I found this an unpleaseant book, did not like the strory and stopped reading at page 85. Only the second book in my life I have stopped reading and not read until the bitter end. Read morePublished on 28 Sept. 2013 by minishopaholic
Bought this as a book club book. The idea of word being able to kill was interesting as we know this is true. Read morePublished on 25 Sept. 2013 by annie
Good basic premise spoilt by pretentious writing style and incoherent plot. Also studded with those gratuitous bits of bubblegum philosophy that many contemporary authors throw in... Read morePublished on 27 July 2013 by Jo Brookes
I am amazed by the talent of this man and am humbled by it. I am equally amazed that some rednecks here have the chutzpah to dismiss this work. Read morePublished on 16 May 2013 by Queen Bee
Promising - but a let down - couldn't wait to finish - could have been brilliant but disappointing. Would not recommendPublished on 15 Mar. 2013 by Peter Nunn