Summer's Reviews > Notable American Women

Notable American Women by Ben Marcus
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's review
Oct 09, 07

Recommended for: curiosity collectors
Read in October, 2007

I started reading this book because I appreciated a couple essays and/or periodical contributions by Ben Marcus. But this book... I was absolutely committed until it was over. I was ready to spread the gospel of Ben Marcus wherever and whenever, until the book ended and nothing had made my brain explode. The language was expertly crafted, yes, but by the last fifty pages it felt formulaic. The story? Wildly creative, but no funny no so true it hurts no heartache for the family unit. Or, if they were there, these "makings of a necessary story" were smothered by unnecessary word-waste.

Yet strangely, the only solution (for my own satisfaction) would be more of it. More to slog through, get twisted up in, exhaust my eyes on. Ben Marcus had disappointed me by cutting his faux-biography short. By failing to impregnate the Silentists. By letting his pitifully jaded, pathetically arrogant, self-absorbed and self-contradicting Mother (in the same voice as his Father) have the last word.

And I'm wondering - was it all just an allegory about the way humans in the American landscape devise elaborate schemes to control or evade unwanted emotions (is that redundant?) rather than exploring their source?

Was it a feminist critique of techniques historically used to suppress womankind?

Was it a critique of parenting? A quick summary of every conceivable parent/child emotional bond?

Or was it just a story about growing up a little lonesome in Ohio?
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