Notable American Women by Ben Marcus
A Novel

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Ben Marcus achieved cult status and gained the admiration of his peers with his first book, The Age of Wire and String. With Notable American Women he goes well beyond that first achievement to create something radically wonderful, a novel set in a world so fully imagined that it creates its own reality.

On a farm in Ohio, American women led by Jane Dark practice all means of behavior modification in an attempt to attain complete stillness and silence. Witnessing (and subjected to) their cultish actions is one Ben Marcus, whose father, Michael Marcus, may be buried in the back yard, and whose mother, Jane Marcus, enthusiastically condones the use of her son for (generally unsuccessful) breeding purposes, among other things. Inventing his own uses for language, the author Ben Marcus has written a harrowing, hilarious, strangely moving, altogether engrossing work of fiction that will be read and argued over for years to come.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

About Ben Marcus

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BEN MARCUS is the author of three books of fiction: Notable American Women, The Father Costume, and The Age of Wire and String, and he is the editor of The Anchor Book of New American Short Stories. His stories have appeared in Harper's Magazine, The New Yorker, The Paris Review, McSweeney's, Tin House, and Conjunctions. He is the recipient of a Whiting Writers' Award, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in Fiction, and awards from the Creative Capital Foundation and the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He lives in New York City and Maine.
Published December 18, 2007 by Vintage. 256 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Notable American Women

Kirkus Reviews

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The author’s wit can still capture perfect tens, as in “Blueprint,” about writing a novel such as this one (“The book should be closed so hard that a wind blows from it, gusting however feebly into whatever little world there is left”), or in the closing piece of anti-male virulence (by the “auth...

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The New York Times

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In his second book -- his first was ''The Age of Wire and String,'' a collection of stories -- Ben Marcus combines an audacious yet assured style with a fragmented structure to create a bitterly funny critique of 21st-century family dynamics.

Apr 28 2002 | Read Full Review of Notable American Women: A Novel

Publishers Weekly

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Ben himself, taught to eschew all personal expression, tries to present a strictly utilitarian narrative of his upbringing—weaving in a history of the Silentist movement, a disquisition on female names, and a manual of Silentist behavior—and yet cannot help expressing the distress he feels in the...

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AV Club

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A bizarre work of experimental fiction by first-time novelist Ben Marcus, Women tells the somewhat straightforward story of a young boy (named "Ben Marcus") whose parents subscribe to a child-rearing technique governed by various forms of "behavior water" and peculiar language experiments.

Apr 17 2002 | Read Full Review of Notable American Women: A Novel

London Review of Books

In order to test the ability of the must-be-educated to find the context, examiners clearly study other exam papers and transplant words from one contextless context into another, copying also the (deliberately?) misleading modernised spelling that makes you read the words the wrong way.

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Austin Chronicle

by Ben Marcus Vintage, 224 pp., $12.50 (paper) A reader who picks up your average American novel expects the characters in novels to use some recognizable form of English in which to communicate inter alia.

Apr 19 2002 | Read Full Review of Notable American Women: A Novel

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