Orange Alert

Lethal speech: Next topic in the Spring 2012 Raymond Carver Reading Series

Ben Marcus will read from his latest book "Flame Alphabet"

March 7, 2012, by Judy Holmes

Ben Marcus
Ben Marcus
What if your teenager's words could kill you? That's the world imagined by Ben Marcus, author of The Flame Alphabet (Knoph, 2012). Marcus will read from his work for the next installment of the Spring 2012 Raymond Carver Reading Series, Wednesday, March 21 in Syracuse University's Huntington Beard Crouse (HBC) Gifford Auditorium. The reading will begin at 5:30 p.m. and be preceded by a question and answer session from 3:45 to 4:30 p.m. The event is free and open to the public. Parking is available in SU’s paid lots.

Marcus is the Creative Writing Program's 2012 Richard Elman Visiting writer and associate professor of writing in Columbia University’s School of the Arts.  The Los Angeles Times describes The Flame Alphabet as a “a powerfully strange and frequently disturbing work that examines the power of words in a new, apocalyptic way.” The story depicts a world in which the sound of children’s speech has become lethal and parents’ struggle to flee from their children’s powerful screams in order to survive.

“I've always thought of language as extremely potent," Marcus told National Public Radio’s Audie Cornish as a guest on “All Things Considered,” Jan. 17.  “It seems to change us at the chemical and biological level. When I think of it like that, it’s as though it’s a drug — and what would happen if we took too much of it, if it overwhelmed us and started to make us sick?”

According to the publisher, “The Flame Alphabet invites the question: What is left of civilization 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 Marcus’s position in the first rank of American novelists.”
Cover of "Flame Alphabet"
Cover of "Flame Alphabet"
Marcus is also the author of Notable American Women (Vintage, 2002) The Father Costume (Artspace Books, 2002) and The Age of Wire and String (Dalkey Archive Press, 1998). Marcus’s fiction, essays, and reviews have appeared in Harper’s, The New Yorker, The Paris Review, The Believer, The New York Times, Salon, McSweeney’s, Time, Conjunctions, Grand Street, Cabinet, and BOMB. He has received a Whiting Writers’ Award, an award from the National Endowment for the Arts, three Pushcart Prizes and the Morton Zabel Award for innovation in literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Named for the great short story writer and poet who taught at SU in the 1980s, the Raymond Carver Reading Series is a vital part of Syracuse’s literary life. Presented by the Creative Writing Program in The College of Arts and Sciences, the series each year brings 12 to 14 prominent writers to campus to read their works and interact with students.

Spring 2012 Series Schedule
The Series will continue with the following authors. All readings begin at 5:30 p.m. in HBC Gifford Auditorium. Question and Answer sessions are from 3:45 to 4:30 p.m. Further information is available by calling (315) 443-2174.

April 4: Jay Rogoff, author of The Art of Gravity (Louisiana State University Press, 2011) and a lecturer at Skidmore College.

April 25: Kelle Groom, author of I Wore the Ocean in the Shape of a Girl (Free Press/Simon & Schuster, 2011) and contributing editor for The Florida Review.

Media Contact

Judy Holmes