Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

The Flame Alphabet by Ben Marcus

The Flame Alphabet (edition 2012)

by Ben Marcus

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
3942227,176 (2.83)24
Title:The Flame Alphabet
Authors:Ben Marcus
Info:Knopf (2012), Edition: First Edition, Hardcover, 304 pages

Work details

The Flame Alphabet by Ben Marcus


Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 24 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 22 (next | show all)
Amazing and gripping but very disturbing. Evocative of a nightmare state of mind the way, say, David Lynch's Eraserhead was. ( )
  ronhenry | Nov 17, 2015 |
Disturbing and thought-provoking ( )
  anitatally | Feb 3, 2015 |
In many ways this was a stellar book. The premise is unique and the prose, in particular, is beautifully dangerous.

If the writing style had not been so contagious I wouldn't have finished reading the book-- I never found a way to connect with the characters. Were the characters intentionally written so that I wouldn't care about -or even understand- their actions? (Maybe?) Have I been a jerk all these years and never noticed? (Possible, but perhaps not likely.) Do other readers feel the same way? (Please help me out here?)

Usually even when I'm dealing with characters I don't like I can find some sympathy or at least interest in what they're doing. Not here. The chasm was vast and unapproachable.

( )
  eaterofwords | Nov 16, 2014 |
I really wanted to like this book. It has an awesome premise: Words, spoken by children, are literally becoming toxic to adults. However, it just fell short of my expectations. I didn't like the main character's daughter. She could have died and I would have been okay with that. I also did not like the whole religious Jewish angle.

Granted, I learned a great deal of the Jewish faith and practices and that's fine but it didn't really go anywhere. It didn't add anything more to the story.

Ultimately, I felt there was so much potential with this story. The allegorical metaphor of the lethalness of words. Words themselves, if used properly (or improperly), can be more fatal than weapons. They can hurt, devastate, debilitate, and destroy. I wanted more from Ben Marcus and The Flame Alphabet that I didn't get. ( )
  Y2Ash | Apr 16, 2014 |
I really wanted to like this, because the idea behind it is fascinating, but I just didn't. It was a continual struggle with myself just to finish it - mainly because I can't stand leaving books unfinished - and I just kept hoping it would get somewhere. The author certainly has a gift for painting a picture with words - the classic English teacher advice: "Show, don't tell!" - but he doesn't seem to know how to deploy it judiciously. He establishes a situation in 10 pages or less, but then goes on for a further 60 pages with no new developments for no apparent reason. It's a shame his editor didn't cut large chunks of this extra text out, because the book would've been a lot better. ( )
1 vote akswede | Oct 14, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 22 (next | show all)
With Marcus' knack for description, the environment is never lost on the reader. A vivid picture is painted on every gray, prison-like page. Unfortunately, the book also drowns in its own verbosity.
added by WeeklyAlibi | editWeekly Alibi, Adam Fox (Mar 22, 2012)
Marcus is a writer of prodigious talent, but “The Flame Alphabet” doesn’t fulfill its own promise as a hybrid of the traditional and experimental. At one point, Sam recalls the prayer hut: “Claire and I always got excited that we might hear a story instead of a sermon.” Readers with the same hope for this book may find it vexing; it’s a strange and impressive work, but in the end, it’s mostly sermon.
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
To my family ‐ Heidi, Delia, and Solomon
First words
We left on a school day, so Esther wouldn't see us.
The secrecy surrounding the huts was justified. The true Jewish teaching is not for wide consumption, is not for groups, is not to be polluted by even a single gesture of communication. Spreading messages dilutes them. Even understanding them is a compromise. The language kills itself, expires inside its host. Language acts as an acid over its message. If you no longer care about an idea or feeling, then put it into language. That will certainly be the last of it, a fitting end. Language is another name for coffin. Bauman told us the only thing we should worry about regarding the sermons was if we understood them too well. When such a day came, then something was surely wrong.
My face felt so heavy I thought I could remove it, step on it until it composted.
Without language my inner life, if such a phrase indicates anything anymore, was merely anecdotal, hearsay.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Publisher series
Original language

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English


Book description
Haiku summary

No descriptions found.

Marcus creates a chilling world where the speech of children is killing their parents. After being forced to leave their daughter Esther to fend for herself, Sam and Claire end up at a government lab intent on creating non-lethal speech. But when Sam discovers the truth about what's going on there, he realizes reuniting with his daughter is the only way to keep his sanity.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 2 descriptions

LibraryThing Author

Ben Marcus is a LibraryThing Author, an author who lists their personal library on LibraryThing.

profile page | author page

Quick Links

Swap Ebooks Audio
54 wanted3 pay2 pay

Popular covers


Average: (2.83)
0.5 2
1 14
1.5 1
2 15
2.5 5
3 22
3.5 7
4 18
4.5 3
5 5


An edition of this book was published by Audible.com.

See editions

Recorded Books

An edition of this book was published by Recorded Books.

» Publisher information page


Help/FAQs | About | Privacy/Terms | Blog | Store | Contact | LibraryThing.com | APIs | WikiThing | Common Knowledge | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | 100,834,070 books! | Top bar: Always visible