‘The Media’ by Ben Lerner

The Media by Ben Lerner, 2020

The magic trick:

A new kind of epistolary writing

OK, this one isn’t my taste, so take everything here with even more than the usual SSMT grain of salt.

I’m too much of a short story traditionalist to really get behind a prose poem as fiction.

But I will say that the delivery premise here is intriguing. The story consists of a man leaving a voice mail on someone’s phone. Epistolary for a new generation.

And that’s quite a trick on Lerner’s part.

The selection:

When you are finished recording, your lips are dried flowers. The trees are full of black plastic bags and hornets’ nests but not significance; the task of imbuing them falls to me. And it’s me, Ben, just calling to check in. I’m on the way to pick Marcela up from day care and just wanted to hear about your trip. I’m sure it must have been hard seeing him like that. Anyway, I love you and I’m here. Give me a call when you can. I’ll be around until the late nineteenth century, when carved wood gives way to polished steel, especially in lake surfaces. You know how you sometimes realize it has been raining only when it stops, silence falling on the roof, forming rivulets on the glass? This is the religious equivalent of that, especially in music and applied fields, long meadows.


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