The Age of Wire and String

Ben Marcus

Published: 2 May 2013
Printed Paper Cased, Demy HB
138x216mm, 192 pages
ISBN: 9781847086389

Illustrated by Catrin Morgan


In The Age of Wire and String Ben Marcus welds together a new reality from the scrapheap of the past. Dogs, birds, horses, automobiles and the weather are some of the recycled elements in Marcus's first collection - part fiction, part handbook - as familiar objects take on markedly unfamiliar meanings. Gradually, this makeshift world, in its defiance of the laws of physics and language, finds a foundation in its own implausibility, as Marcus produces new feelings and sensations - both comic and disturbing - in the definitive guide to an unpredictable yet exhilarating plane of existence.

About the author

Image of Ben Marcus

Ben Marcus is the author of The Age of Wire and String, Notable American Women, The Flame Alphabet and Leaving the Sea. His work has appeared in the New Yorker, Granta, Harper's and the Paris Review. Marcus has received a Whiting Writers' Award, a Berlin Prize and a Guggenheim Fellowship. He is on the faculty at Columbia University in New York. More about the author


The Age of Wire and String evades classification, persisting in your mind because of its psychotically ardent prose... It uses words as they once were, as incantations, as spells to summon up the contorted beings of the imagination’ Matthew De Abaitua



‘A brain-rattling collection of experimental fictions... Rewarding’ Stuart Hammond

‘A brain-rattling collection of experimental fictions... There are shades of Beckett in the playful obsessive language twiddling, and although the text is 18 years old, [it] still seems cutting edge’ Stuart Hammond

‘A landmark of experimental illustration... [Catrin Morgan's] strength of invention has proven to be equal in intensity to the most delightfully idiosyncratic and baffling of fictions... An electrifying reminder of what the medium can do when a sensitive interpreter able to read a literary text closely is given free rein’ Rick Poynor

‘A wonderful piece of experimental writing in the spirit of Borges and Barthelme’ Jonathan Gibbs

‘Complex and inventive, [Marcus] takes a post-modern look at everyday objects and customs and gives them new and unfamiliar meaning’ Antonia Charlesworth

‘Fragile, longing, and funny ruminations on the secret lives of objects and environments - written in some of the most breathtaking prose I've encountered lately’ Rick Moody

‘Frequently touching and funny... a cross between a scientific manual, Monty Python and a kind of Bible, with a surreal and opaque logic of its own’ Christina Patterson

‘Marcus has an amazing feel for language and imagery. He invents words, uses proper names for concepts and completely redefines ordinary words in a way that leaves you wondering why these beautiful, fantastical creations are not part of everyday speech’

‘Near-genius... This will become a collectors' edition: love it’

‘Sublimely deranged’ Rod Liddle

‘This novel has a place within the chaotic tradition of Sterne's Tristram Shandy. [If] novels are to reflect the complexities of the modern world, they must take on some of its messy characteristics... Intelligent and good-humoured’ Andrew Biswell

‘Transfixing... an extraordinary debut... A treasury of interconnected fables of violence and hope, stands out as an exhilarating work of literature. Multiple readings are rewarding’ Steven Poole

‘Unique... As beautiful, intricate, and involving as [Catrin Morgan's] illustrations are, they work to further warp the reader's mind... It's rare that a piece of art of any kind can be so absorbing and interesting while at the same time being completely bewildering’ Fran Slater

‘Utterly wonderful, wonderful and beautiful... all the elements of ordinary life systematically recombined to give substance to feeling and sensation, our deepest and most hidden knowledge of home’ Donald Antrim

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