The Age of Wire and String

Ben Marcus

Home sick today so I re-read Ben Marcus’ The Age of Wire and String. Marcus’ fiction is as good as David Lynch’s films would be if they weren’t a lot less weird than they seem to be. I enjoy Lynch’s films, saw Inland Empire the other week, but lately they have all boiled down to the same basic elements: girls are pretty, old men are scary, scary noises are scary, go in a hole. Oh, and Hollywood is a palace of illusions and lost dreams where [snores]

The Age of Wire and String reads like someone has taken illustrations from a 50s childrens’ encyclopedia and then made up superficially plausible but odd texts to go with them. The book confuses categories in an impressive and often hilarious way – “The Food Costumes of Montana” cross-wires the history of fashion with spoilage, telescoping years into hours, thus:

“Cereals came into use after 6:00. Noodles, because of their strength and elasticity, became the leading loop fiber after the Evening War. At 7:30, women began applying the fudge girdle, a one-piece garment that spread from waist to feet.”

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