From one of the most
innovative and vital writers of his generation, an extraordinary collection of
stories that showcases his gifts—and his range—as never before.
In the hilarious, lacerating “I Can Say Many Nice Things,” a
washed-up writer toying with infidelity leads a creative writing workshop on
board a cruise ship. In the dystopian “Rollingwood,” a divorced father
struggles to take care of his ill infant, as his ex-wife and colleagues try to
render him irrelevant. In “Watching Mysteries with My Mother,” a son meditates
on his mother’s mortality, hoping to stave off her death for as long as he sits
by her side. And in the title story, told in a single breathtaking sentence, we
watch as the narrator’s marriage and his sanity unravel, drawing him to the
brink of suicide.
As the collection progresses, we move from more traditional
narratives into the experimental work that has made Ben Marcus a groundbreaking
master of the short form. In these otherworldly landscapes, characters resort
to extreme survival strategies to navigate the terrors of adulthood, one opting
to live in a lightless cave and another methodically setting out to recover
total childhood innocence; an automaton discovers love and has to reinvent
language to accommodate it; filial loyalty is seen as a dangerous weakness that
must be drilled away; and the distance from a cubicle to the office coffee cart
is refigured as an existential wasteland, requiring heroic effort.
In these piercing, brilliantly observed investigations into
human vulnerability and failure, it is often the most absurd and alien
predicaments that capture the deepest truths. Surreal and tender, terrifying
and life-affirming, Leaving the Sea
is the work of an utterly unique writer at the height of his powers. Download and start listening now!