A bearded man in a badly soiled suit known only as The Stranger wanders an apocalyptic landscape on the fringes of a dying metropolis, looking for a way to "get back on top." Thwarted and rejected at every turn by old friends and strangers alike—even by the author of this novel, whom he visits repeatedly in unsuccessful attempts to determine his own narrative—his impotence and rage are expressed in acts of seemingly senseless violence. The various characters he encounters on his journey—a pack of sadistic boys, skinheads who beat him senseless, a deaf-mute woman who tries to heal him, a sidewalk preacher, and a deranged man who identifies him as The One—avoid or abuse him, or attempt to follow him.
Entertaining, disturbing, and wildly intelligent, written with sinister humor and great compassion, Ether reflects on the possibilities and consequences of forgiveness, the problems of faith, and the trials of creation.
"Like a David Lynch movie transcribed by Pierre Reverdy, it's a brilliant and unforgettable book, written somewhere between sleeping and waking."—Chris Kraus, author of Torpor
"This is an intense, intelligent novel that paints a vivid picture of an America that most of us refuse to see, are afraid to see. This is real art."—Percival Everett, author of I Am Not Sidney Poitier
"A book that's both pure as snow and filthy as dirty, with the lovely detachment of ice. Like Beckett, Ehrenreich has the talent of being particular and general at once, and thus steps outisde of time"—Lydia Millet, Pulizer Prize finalist for Love in Infant Monkeys
"Ether is a dark and powerful work, with disturbing metaphysical overtones. Ben Ehrenreich is a gathering power in the literary land."—John Banville, author of The Infinities
"Ben Ehenreich transforms the brutal human and urban blight into a landscape of cosmic battle. Ether is a dark, complex, richly written, beautiful novel. It is a rarity in American fiction today."—Frederic Tuten, author of Self Portraits: Fictions
"Ether, perhaps even more than his previous novel, The Suitors, shows Ben Ehrenreich unafraid of storytelling that is terrifically bold and sly." — Sesshu Foster, author of World Ball Notebook
Ben Ehrenreich is an award-winning journalist and fiction writer. Ether is his second novel.
Praise for Ben Ehrenreich's first novel The Suitors:
"Smart and postmodern in a puckish, Calvino-like sense. . . . Ehrenreich writes with an ease and pure line-by-line skill that's rare."—The New York Times Book Review
"Ehrenreich blends Tom Robbins' sly humor with Steve Erickson's bubbling sense of the subconscious and Voltaire's irreverent twists of plot."—Los Angeles Times Book Review
"Ehrenreich shows the stirrings of an original talent."—Publishers Weekly
"Brilliant, and at the same time moving. It's a relief to know that literature exists yet."—Juan Goytisolo