May 9th, 2011 / 10:48 pm

“Intercourse with Resuscitated Wife” by Ben Marcus

I read Notable American Women before I read The Age of Wire and String, so despite my being somewhat familiar with Marcus and his interviews and his writing, I still wasn’t quite prepared for the kind of ‘language monsters’ he had packed into those 140 pages when I opened the book for the first time in the summer of 2006.

And although the book begins with a sort of prologue, or ‘argument,’ which describes the book as a ‘life project’ meant to catalogue the age of wire and string, I will always think of the opening sentence of “Intercourse with Resuscitated Wife” as the warning shot, a language bunch that reoriented my understanding of how a parcel of words might be arranged in unusual ways.

The dropped articles, the potential comma splice, the archaic tone, the oddity described by the text, all of these I might have seen before, but never in such a sustained and tightly controlled way as this, and not in a contemporary landscape. And furthermore, I hadn’t yet become aware of many of the precursors who made such a collection possible. So to read this first sentence was a bit shocking for me, but in a good way, and helped me take greater care in my reading and writing from then on.

Intercourse with resuscitated wife for particular number of days, superstitious act designed to insure a safe operation of household machinery.

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  1. Kyle Minor
  2. Kyle Minor

      If anyone has a text file version of Thompson’s “Motif-Index,” would you email it to me? kyle (at) — I’d like a copy for my e-reader. The html version, above, is worth your time, too. It’s searchable and indexed.

  3. Nick Francis

      talk to me about the precursors that made Wire and String possible.

  4. Anonymous

  5. lorian long

      ben marcus is a sentence King. i can’t wait for the flame alphabet.

  6. Anonymous

  7. BAC

      Tender Buttons