Stephen Marche’s Love and the Mess We’re In is a visually stunning experience. The typography in his earlier novel, Raymond and Hannah, played a role, but here the text in its layout takes on new meaning, becoming as much a part of the story-telling as the narrative, if not more so.
As the National Post> says, “every page is devoted to uprooting the traditional sense of the printed page, and replacing it with what the jacket copy calls ‘interwoven texts, geometric shaping and pattern-making of Hebraic calligraphy, illuminated manuscripts, and incunabular typography,’ as well as a New York subway map.”
Shining at the Bottom of the Sea was likewise an imaginative and stylistic tour de force. In it, Stephen creates an entire society in the nation of Sanjania, complete with national symbols, political movements, a national airline called Sanjair, a group of writers called fictioneers, and a rich literary history. It takes the form of an anthology that moves from 1870s pamphlets through to the awakening of Sanjanian nationalism in a 1930s literary journal. The New York Times Book Review declared it “may be the most exciting mash-up of literary genres since David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas.”
And then there is Lucy Hardin’s Missing Period, an interactive, web-based novel with hundreds of possible storylines and multiple outcomes. The format brilliantly captures the reality of a young woman in Toronto at the turn of the millennium, a person whose fate is subject to a world of outside forces and could change any minute.
When he isn’t concocting books that press the boundaries of books, Stephen is writing his monthly column for Esquire magazine – “A Thousand Words About Our Culture” – which was a 2011 finalist for the American Society of Magazine Editors award for columns and commentary. The cultural analyst side of his brain is put to use in How Shakespeare Changed Everything, published in 2011.
Stephen also contributes opinion pieces to The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Salon.com, The Globe and Mail, The Toronto Star, and The Atlantic. He can often be found serving as an expert correspondent for CBC’s Connect With Mark Kelley.
Along with an obvious fascination for the way words live on a page, Stephen is also intrigued by modern communication methods and what their use means, culturally and personally. His 2012 article in The Atlantic on Facebook and loneliness will change for good how you view and how you use social media.
Stephen lives in Toronto with his wife and two children.