Language literally kills in Ben Marcus’s novel. An epidemic has blanketed the country and the sound of children’s speech is lethal to adults. Parents are abandoning their sons and daughter as a means of survival. In his crushing, exacting, and wrathful world, Marcus lays everything out on the table. The horror, wit, and absurdity call to mind Thomas Bernhard, Max Frisch, and Robert Walser. "The Flame Alphabet" is obsessive, virtuosic, and in every way unsettling. You will either love this or hate it, but I can pretty much guarantee you have never read anything like it.