The Flame Alphabet by Ben Marcus
The Flame Alphabet’s dust jacket describes Marcus as the ‘most maniacally gifted writer of our generation’ (Hark! Hyperbole!) and is laden with praise from contemporary heavyweights – Jonathan Safran Foer, Michael Chabon et al – but the credibility they lend soon runs out. Perhaps the publisher is using exaggeration to make his point, his point being that Marcus has some mad ideas, and his style is fresh but not strong and on the whole. The novelty of the premise carries the whole story.
The premise is novel in the most literal sense, but also banal: When children talk, their speech kills their parents. What should follow is a simple postmodern tragedy but instead the plot manages to stagnate while trying to do too many things - a bit like it's caught in quicksand but wriggling so much it only makes matters worse. The characters don’t develop and there are more loose ends than there are alveoli in your lungs. The plot is also meant to channel themes of Jewish isolation and power shifts within both a family and society but hardly has enough fibre to tell it's own story let alone one between the lines.