Mike Polizzi's Reviews > The Flame Alphabet

The Flame Alphabet by Ben Marcus
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's review
Apr 20, 2012

it was amazing
Read in April, 2012

Sloughings, dribbles, slurries and words- the book is a skin codex, shed slowly. It's hard to think of another book where an author's own alienation with the medium is served so well as to complete a world.

The flip side to the world of instant, constant and mass communication, unique and personalized through Marcus's meta strategy. Reading one sees dimly, as if through an angled box the source world that bred the metaphors. It didn't grip me immediately, mostly because of my familiarity with Marcus's other work and he muted his humor and audacity in this piece. Then my brain fought the concept he slides across and he accommodates this with the narrator's own period of study- and exhausts this and at about that point, the other books that this one reminded me of dimmed and it became thoroughly its own complete world. The literalness of the narrator's work to establish a non-infectious alphabet absorbs the logistical questions of a seeming impossible situation while not completely allaying the basic differences between our world and theirs, where technology bent into some odd Cronenberg-esque fleshiness rather than towards the PC. Implication through omission.

An Ur story within his existing narrative universe, Marcus has exceeded his early books and in a way flattened some of their strangeness by offering this complete world as explanation. At the end I felt the giant what of what I just read and let out a long breath.

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