“Stay Down and Take It”
by Ben Marcus
from the May 28, 2018 issue of The New Yorker
Ben Marcus has been a relatively regular contributor to The New Yorker fiction section for several years now. “Stay Down and Take It” is his seventh since I started posting on them. I believe I have liked half of them and that I didn’t really like the other half. This is the tie breaker, then!
That being the case, I’m not sure if I find the opening paragraph promising or not. On the one hand, I always find Marcus’s writing to be interesting, fluid, snappy. But it can also border on the edge of too much. Here is the opening:
James is home early and he says we goddammit really seriously need to pack. Hup hup, time to go. It’s the weather again, and it bores me so. We live where the water loves to visit. Just a little rain off the coast, that’s all, and it’ll rise into our home. It loves to soak our rug and climb up the walls and, once, it seeped into our electronics, inside the TV cabinet, and destroyed our precious entertainment center, which keeps us — or me, anyway — from raiding the medicine cabinet at night for other pleasures. Otherwise, well, we have brilliant sunsets and the kind of grass that is absurdly tall, taller than you or me. I don’t know how it doesn’t just fall over. You’d think it had a long slender bone in each blade. Some original, beautiful creature that needs no head or limbs, because it has no enemies. Who knows.
I think this one could yield some good conversation below. It’s just the kind of thing that divides us! I look forward to your thoughts below.
As an aside, presumably this story will feature in Marcus’s forthcoming story collection Notes from the Fog. I think I like Marcus enough to be excited to read this story and, if it breaks the tie positively, I will check out the collection.