Author(s): Ben Marcus
In The Age of Wire and String Ben Marcus welds together a new reality from the scrapheap of the past. Dogs, birds, horses, automobiles, and the weather are some of the recycled elements in Marcus's first collection - part fiction, part handbook - as familiar objects take on markedly unfamiliar meanings. Gradually, this makeshift world, in its defiance of the laws of physics and language, finds a foundation in its own implausibility, as Marcus produces new feelings and sensations - both comic and disturbing - in the definitive guide to an unpredictable yet exhilarating plane of existence.
This book is a sort of fictional encyclopedia of pretty much everything you don't understand about the world but were unable quite to pinpoint and about which you are unable even to find the right sort of words to express your confusion. Familiar things and their meanings have been separated and allowed to settle in new patterns of association, clotted together by the adhesive properties of language, giving rise to new science, new culture, new emotions. Marcus is set against the deadening effect of familiarity; really, his Age of Wire and String is no more savage, tender and surprising than the world we take for granted every day: the problems he describes are the very same ones that already throng the skin dividing our internal world from our external (a concept demonstrably arbitrary and invertible) but to which we have become numbed and unobservant. This book will certainly not help you to understand anything any better, but it will make your confusion immaculate and add to it dimensions of awe and beauty that you had hitherto not suspected. This new edition pairs Marcus's text with Morgan's equally obtuse and intriguing illustrations. - Thomas
Ben Marcus is the author of Notable American Women, The Father Costume, The Age of Wire and String and The Flame Alphabet. His work has appeared in The New Yorker, The Paris Review, The New York Times, and McSweeney's. Marcus has received a Whiting Writers Award, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in fiction, and three Pushcart Prizes. Marcus is an associate professor in the School of the Arts at Columbia University.