Notes from the Fog

by Marcus, Ben
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Marcus, Ben Notes from the Fog
Marcus, Ben - Notes from the Fog

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Ben Marcus returns with a collection of timely dystopian visions of alienation in a modern world. Here a hapless, corporate drone finds love after being disfigured from testing his employer's newest nutrition supplement; a father starts to suspect that his son's precocity has turned sinister; and two architects in a failing marriage must consider the ethics of artificially inciting emotion as they construct a memorial to a terrorist attack. It's these characters and others that over the course of thirteen short stories showcase Marcus's compassion, imagination, and mordant humor. Never has existential catastrophe been so much fun.


Marcus, Ben

Further information

Biography Artist:
Ben Marcus is the author of four books of fiction-The Age of Wire and String, Notable American Women, The Flame Alphabet, and Leaving the Sea-and the editor of two short story anthologies: The Anchor Book of New American Short Stories and New American Stories. His fiction has appeared in Bomb, Granta, Harper's Magazine, McSweeney's, The New Yorker, The Paris Review, and The Virginia Quarterly Review. Among his awards are a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Berlin Prize, a Whiting Award, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in fiction, and three Pushcart Prizes. He lives with his family in New York City, where he is on the faculty at Columbia University.
Engrossing, poetically surreal. . . . Woundingly funny.
The New York Times Book Review

Exceptional. . . . Each story is quietly eerie with electric characters.
The Paris Review

His best work. . . . Readers will find some of the most thrilling and disturbing literary fiction of the year in this collection.
Financial Times

Marcus s writing is by turns extremely funny, affecting, and then disquieting, and as he moves seamlessly between these tones.
Los Angeles Review of Books

Spectacular. . . . Exhilarating.
The Guardian

One of Marcus s strengths [is] imagining a future which is similar enough to our world to seem plausible, but different enough for the reader to grasp the ramifications of certain fates with which our current world is flirting.
Vanity Fair

Ruthless and hilarious.
O, The Oprah Magazine

The wilder and more Swiftian the plots get, the more intimately the stories seem to evoke a lived reality.
Harper s Magazine

Notes from the Fog is an intense, vividly written book, filled with nightmarish scenarios and leavened by wit. Few writers possess Marcus s agility with language or his controlled flights of imagination.
Portland Press Herald

Each story features moments of considered, lacerating prose threaded together by sentences that, like a marionette s strings, bring the world to full, expansive life. This is a bracing, forceful collection.
Publishers Weekly (starred review) 
Excerpted from "Blueprints for St. Louis"
It was winter, which meant that a pelvic frost had fallen across the land. Or maybe just across Roy and Helen s apartment. And, in truth, the frost had long since matured into a kind of bodily aloofness, just shy of visible flinching when they passed each other in the halls, or when they co-slept in the intimacy-free bed they d splurged on. Why not have the best sleep of your life next to the dried-out sack of daddy you ve long taken for granted, whose wand no longer glows and quivers for you and for whom you no longer quietly melt? You had to track the erotic cooling back into summer, or the prior spring, and, well, didn t the seasons and the years just dog-pile one another when you tried to solve math like that?
Helen wasn t particularly concerned, because, whatever, there was a clarity to the coldness, right? And screw Roy if he d fallen down a brightly-colored porn hole, pummeling himself to images of animated youngsters slithering around nude, in grownup crotch, gear in a cartoon fairyland. Internet histories weren t her favorite literary genre, but she knew how to read them. Anyway, if her husband s use-case viability on the marital graph had taken a nose-dive, then so, too, had her own burden. She had her friends, she had her work on the memorial, and she had the shower head. When she and Roy first got married, whenever ago, Helen s mother had told her that, if people don t visit, you don t have to host. Period, full stop. And even though Helen s take on this advice now was off-label, it applied just fine to her touchless union. The body unloved, the body unhandled and unseen. The body as a ghost in training for whatever soiled world came next. Anyway, wasn t left-alone the best place to wind up?
Maybe old age and the cold blue death of the groin would solve that. Maybe Helen would inherit a sweet and useless Roy, post-pornography, sitting politely behind a drool cloth, swaddled in food-stained sweaters. She d feed him until he cooed and maybe sometimes they would run out of gruel and she would watch his hunger grow, watch his eyes turn small and sad. Would it be so terrible? The sexual urge would be merely an embarrassing spasm of the past. They d been friends once, before they d got into designing memorials for unspeakable catastrophes. Intense and respectful partners in their architectural firm. Mutually committed cattle prodders of each other s darker, stranger brains, torturing out each other s best ideas, before the chemical repulsion and bed-death had struck. Maybe by old age they d return to form, be ideal dance partners again, if only they could stay alive long enough.
The problem was today and tomorrow and the next fucking huge bunch of days, the entirety of their middle age, really, which shouldn t be just a rotten footbridge you had to navigate, with a creepy old troll beating off underneath it. Roy was technically handsome, but he preened, and he moped, and he fished for so many compliments that Helen was fished out, empty, unable to smear any favorable speech over his prim, needy body. Lately he d been taking himself to the gym with more ambition and lust than he showed for their collaborative design work, and he was all cut up now, a strange, photoshopped musculature slipped over his bones like a bronzed wetsuit. She should have wanted to handle the new body he d built, use it to snuff out her baser urges, not that Roy offered it to her, but she asked that he keep it covered. In loose-fitting layers, please. It stank of his not-so-hidden effort to attract a mammal outside the home. To sport with it and lick its fur, no doubt. Plus, she had tolerated her husband better when he wasn t such a vain custodian of the ephemeral&m
Number of Pages:
Media Type:
Penguin Random House

Master Data

Product Type:
Paperback book
Release date:
9 July 2019
Package Dimensions:
0.202 x 0.131 x 0.025 m; 0.836 kg
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