‘First Love’ by Ben Marcus

First Love by Ben Marcus, 2000

The magic trick:

Considering human relationships from an alien point of view

I’m not super familiar, but I gather that “First Love” is more representative of the experimental old-school Ben Marcus style. If that is the case, I need to make a mental note to stick with the new school version.

It’s not even that this kind of non-narrative stuff isn’t my cup of tea. I really think it’s that this is crappy tea. I’ve really enjoyed this week of Marcus stories a lot. But I’m going to be pretty relentlessly negative on this final entry.

The narrator is so close to making sense. Oh, but then he uses an odd bit of language or describes something familiar to us in a way that makes it slightly unfamiliar. How clever.

What it does do – I begrudgingly admit – is cast human relationships in a new light. We see this as normal. Two people get together, they share their lives, in theory they are happy. But with this story’s alien observations, we see that this entire relationship concept is actually a very strange idea. And that’s quite a trick on Marcus’s part. 

The selection:

The first time you meet a potential partner presents an opportunity that will never come your way again, the chance to handle them freely, to smell their parts, to disrobe or possibly dismantle them, to mount their hind, to bark at them, to pull back their hair or grip at their scruff and whinny, to rope them to a post, to insert a wire in their back and control them through the radio, to scull or tack in their perimeter, to kiss them gently, to hold their face and kiss their cheeks and shelter them from the wind with your wide, hard body.

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