The Flame Alphabet
Paperback $19.99 - Granta
Fiction - Published: 27/May/2013 - ISBN: 9781847086242
In The Flame Alphabet, the most maniacally gifted writer of our generation delivers a work of heartbreak and horror, a novel about how far we will go, and the sorrows we will endure, in order to protect our families A terrible epidemic has struck the country and the sound of children's speech has become lethal. Radio transmissions from strange sources indicate that people are going into hiding. All Sam and Claire need to do is look around the neighbourhood: in the park, parents wither beneath the powerful screams of their children. At night, suburban side streets become routes of shameful escape for fathers trying to get outside the radio of affliction.
With Claire nearing collapse, it seems their only means of survival is to flee from their daughter, Esther, who laughs at her parents sickness, unaware that in just a few years, she too, will be susceptible to the language toxicity. But Sam and Claire find it isn't so easy to leave the daughter they still love, even as they waste away from her malevolent speech. On the eve of their departure, Claire mysteriously disappears, and Sam, determined to find a cure for this new toxic language, presses on alone into a world beyond recognition.
The Flame Alphabet invites the question: what is left of civilisation when we lose the ability to communicate with those we love? Both morally engaged and wickedly entertaining, a gripping page turner as strange as it is moving this intellectual horror story ensures Ben Marcus's position in the first rank of American novelists. Ben Marcus is the author of three previous books; Notable American Women, The Father Costume, and the legendary The Age of Wire and String. His work has appeared in The New Yorker, Paris Review, Believer, New York Times, and McSweeney's. He has received a Whiting Writers Award, a NEA Fellowship in fiction, and three Pushcart Prizes. He is an associate professor at Columbia University.
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