Leaving the Sea by Ben Marcus
The stories in Leaving the Sea take place in a world which is a distortion of our own, where strange illnesses strike at random and where people disappear without a trace. From the frustrated creative writing teacher to the advocate of self-inhumation; from Paul, whose return home leads him further into his isolation, or Mather, whose child is sick, to an unnamed narrator who spends his lonely evenings calculating the probabilities of his mother's imminent demise.
This felt somewhat like a baptism of fire.
Marcus begins this collection of stories by exploring what I should be forgiven for calling the mundane. Relationships, emotions, infidelity, loneliness; they all make their appearance, and are analysed by Marcus in a complex and abstract way which takes some getting used to. I felt there was something lacking in all of the initial stories, and that was simply his preference to leave everything - character fates, the whys, the hows - entirely up to his reader’s interpretation.
As we progress further into the stories, Marcus becomes far more explorative and experimental, easing us in gently with some mundane peppered with dystopia, before plunging entirely into the realms of what the fuck.
The dark humour is on point, the satire is slick, the prose beautiful. I should have been consumed, but didn’t allow myself to be. I could have enjoyed this more, but the problem here was me.
Definitely something I will pick up again in the future when it’s a much better time for analysation and reflection.