ben marcus

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Notes from Ben Marcus at Chicago Humanities Festival

Richard ford 

Ann Beatty 


Militarism bw realism n experimentalism


The Age of Wire and String

Authoritative voice, seductive, gives impression of being true (believability)

Rewriting encyclopedia entries

Imaginatively 'reading' - read first few words write-read the rest 

Words change their (symbolic) meaning over time to become...paradoxical 




Provoked hostility


Make words unstable - wary of being too word-gamey


Stream of consciousness of psychosis says ny times


Make English a foreign language


Slang in a hundred years


Things couldn't just exist, they had to be sourced (harvesting tree -> door). Concern w materiality. 


Taught since age 21


What is the end of the bible 


Make more drama by leaving things out 


Writing back at what ur reading 


Choosing most disagreeable, least interesting genre/form and working in that


Character thinking thru all his responsibilities 

Lydia Davis - documents of thot


Francis Ponge - "we can only write what we've already read" 

Read nonliterary txts


Anxiety is entertaining, relatable, a natural mode of writing, concentrate it to pt of unbearability 


Cognitive surveillance - the kinds of criminals we'd be 


All possible permutations of punctuation for the same txt 


John Hawkes n Robert Coover dinner parties (faculty at Brown) 


Summer Reads: Connor Goodwin


Meaty by Samantha Irby

One can’t really talk about Chicago’s literary scene without talking about Samantha Irby.  And for too long I’ve been talking about/telling people they should read Irby without having read her myself.  Meaty is a collection of essays out from Chicago’s own Curbside Splendor.  To get a taste, check out her notorious blog at  She recently posted about the joys of summer: “everyone here is always talking about the goddamned lake like it’s not a freezing cold grey diarrhea soup and i’m baffled by that. it’s too cold to go into ten months out of the year and the other two it’s so full of e.coli you can’t dip a toe in it without puking your fucking guts out.



Crystal Eaters by Shane Jones

This “poetic sci-fi” out from Two Dollar Radio has been getting a lot of attention from just about everyone I follow on Twitter, even the Paris Review.  Our own Fiction Editor, Matt Rowan, listed this on his summer reads as well.  I honestly feel like I’m just missing out. 



Leaving the Sea by Ben Marcus

Can’t remember how I first learned of Ben Marcus, but when I did I went to the library at 9pm and finished his illustrated novella The Father Costume in the stacks of the Regenstein.  I slipped into a strange world, carefully threaded, floating loftily at sea.  I’m excited to see where Marcus will take me with his latest, a collection of short stories out by Knopf. 



Witch Piss by Sam Pink

Sam Pink is awesome.  I’ve already reviewed one of his novels, which you can read here.  Everything I’ve read by him I’ve read at least twice, AND I NEVER REREAD.  His novels are short, gross, hilarious and take place in Chicago.  Witch Piss is his latest, released this year from Lazy Fascist Press.  



Connor Goodwin is twitter's biggest fan.  You can follow him @condorgoodwing.  His work has appeared in Chronopolis.  View more of his work at