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Download The Flame Alphabet Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample The Flame Alphabet, by Ben Marcus Click for printable size audiobook cover
2.0013698630137 out of 52.0013698630137 out of 52.0013698630137 out of 52.0013698630137 out of 52.0013698630137 out of 5 2.00 (2,190 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Ben Marcus Narrator: Andy Pari Publisher: Recorded Books, LLC Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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In The Flame Alphabet, the most maniacally gifted writer of our generation delivers a work of heartbreak and horror, a novel about how far we will go, and the sorrows we will endure, in order to protect our families.

A terrible epidemic has struck the country, and the sound of children’s speech has become lethal. Radio transmissions from strange sources indicate that people are going into hiding. All Sam and Claire need to do is look around the neighborhood: In the park, parents wither beneath the powerful screams of their children. At night, suburban side streets become routes of shameful escape for fathers trying to get outside the radius of affliction.

With Claire nearing collapse, it seems their only means of survival is to flee from their daughter, Esther, who laughs at her parents’ sickness, unaware that in just a few years she, too, will be susceptible to the language toxicity. But Sam and Claire find it isn’t so easy to leave the daughter they still love, even as they waste away from her malevolent speech. On the eve of their departure, Claire mysteriously disappears, and Sam, determined to find a cure for this new toxic language, presses on alone into a world beyond recognition.

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 Ben Marcus’ position in the first rank of American novelists.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Powerfully strange and frequently disturbing…It’s a rich testament to Marcus’ gifts that in a story about the death of language, his words frequently come together in ways to be savored.”

    Los Angeles Times

  • “[Marcus is] giving his highfalutin concepts the thriller treatment…A brutal, wonderful book, streaking with the sickly brown and gray hues of Philip K. Dick and David Cronenberg.”

    AV Club

  • “Language kills in Marcus’ audacious new work of fiction, a richly allusive look at a world transformed by a new form illness…Biblical in its Old Testament sense of wrath, Marcus’ novel twists America’s quotidian existence into something recognizable yet wholly alien to our experience.”

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  • “Marcus conducts a febrile and erudite inquiry into ‘the threat of language,’ offering incandescent insights into ancient alphabets and mysticism, ostracism and exodus, incarceration with Holocaust echoes, and Kafkaesque behavioral science. Ultimately, the suspenseful,…apocalyptic plot serves as a vehicle for Marcus’ blazing metaphysical inquiry into expression, meaning, self, love, and civilization.”

    Booklist (starred review)

  • “Narrator Andy Paris’ gentle voice dampens the horror of the words. yet his delivery is pitch-perfect, giving the feeling that hysteria is just moments away. The book is fascinating discourse on a bizarre situation that forces listeners to confront all their beliefs and suppositions.”


  • “Fierce, scary, hurtful, unsettling, and brilliant, this new work by award-winning novelist Marcus reminds us that language is dangerous and that we’ll do anything to protect our children, even when they are (literally) killing us.”

    Library Journal

  • An Amazon Best Book of the Month, January2012

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by virgie | 12/18/2015

    " Great Article. commentary - I was fascinated by the analysis . Does anyone know if my company would be able to get access to a template CA 5020 copy to fill out ? "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Seanna | 2/20/2014

    " I have a headache now. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 by Leah | 2/12/2014

    " The writing is exquisite -- it's essentially an extended poem. But the book's reality is so harsh and cruel, I was too saddened to make it through. Great book for a person with a thicker skin. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 by Adam | 2/4/2014

    " It's totally on me for quitting this book. It's very well written, but I just could not get into it. Certain books fit into certain times in one's life--this just didn't fit me right now. "

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About the Author
Author Ben Marcus

Ben Marcus is the author of The Flame Alphabet, Notable American Women, The Father Costume, and The Age of Wire and String. His writing has been published in the New Yorker, the New York Times, Salon, McSweeney’s, the Paris Review, Harper’s, and others. He is the editor of The Anchor Book of New American Short Stories and has served as the guest editor of Guernica magazine. He is a 2009 recipient of a grant for Innovative Literature from the Creative Capital Foundation and has also received the Morton Dauwen Zabel Award, the Whiting Writers Award, and three Pushcart Prizes. Marcus is a former professor at Brown University and is now a faculty member at Columbia University’s School of the Arts.