Issue 21 - Ben Marcus

Availability: Sold Out

Quick Overview

2.5 oz tin of Thompson Cream
Contains all natural ingredients
Short story by Marcus in a 5” x 5” booklet
Made in the USA
Released fall 2013

Issue 21 is by experimental novelist Ben Marcus. The issue includes a limited-run tin of Thompson Cream - a salve for people and things - as well as an accompanying booklet containing a short story by Marcus.   The story traces the disturbing origins of Thompson Cream: “A child was sick in Kansas.  He had fever.  His father prodded him awake, dressed him in gear, lead him outside in the dark morning for chores,” read the first few lines.

Our Thompson Cream was handmade with the help of Metaphor Organic, an SF-based purveyor of fine soaps and salves. It was mixed and poured in Co-Editor Will Rogan’s backyard in Albany, California. It contains all natural ingredients including sunflower oil and beeswax, and a selection of herbs and supplements including bacopa monnieri, gingko biloba, gotu kola, Spanish sage, 5-HTP, and coenzyme Q10. Net weight is 2.5 ounces of salvey goodness.  Thompson Cream can be applied to most any situation.


"The rest is history, just not the kind we want. By the time of the specialist’s daughter’s death, creams of understanding were no longer new. Lotions smart and otherwise. Fortifying pastes across the torso, or in skins hovering at face level. Surrogate torsos made of lotion. A cosmetic fore face that hung in liquid suspension in front of the real face, which turned as old and muddy as a coin. Bodies of cream worn like clothing. And so decorated. Foreign language creams at the throat, to make speech plain. A cream at the back of the neck to release secrets. A salve for the mute and a salve for the tongue. A swishing lotion for inside the mouth, to protect the speaker from cream induced prophecy. An unwitting release of secrets, compelled forth by perfect application, unbeknownst, of a cream. Applied in the woods. In the home. At work. Underground. On people, things, and space."


Ben Marcus is the author of the novels THE FLAME ALPHABET and NOTABLE AMERICAN WOMEN and the story collection, THE AGE OF WIRE AND STRING. His new book, LEAVING THE SEA, will be published by Knopf in January of 2014. His writing has appeared in Harper's, The New Yorker, The Paris Review, Granta, The Believer, The New York Times, McSweeney's, Time, Conjunctions, and Tin House. He is the editor of The Anchor Book of New American Short Stories, and the fiction editor of The American Reader. He is the recipient of a Whiting Writers Award, a Creative Capital Award, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in fiction, a literature award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and three Pushcart Prizes. He is a 2013 Guggenheim Fellow, and 2013 Berlin Prize Fellow at the American Academy in Berlin. He lives in New York City and Maine.

More about Ben Marcus can be found here.


Metaphor Organic was conceived by Errol Davis (writer) and Adam Bienvenu (conceptual artist) in the fall of 2009 as the culmination of several years of thought and dialogue. An important question at the heart of their investigation continues to be “can a business model also function as an artistic statement?” In line with the French avant-garde writing group, OULIPO, a primary feature of the Metaphor Organic model is constraint. Metaphor soapmakers limit themselves to natural and, when possible, organic ingredients and an entirely hand-made process that is also literally an athletic feat, as the bars are delivered by bicycle to stores within biking distance. One hope is that the care behind each production decision is communicated through the artisanal product. In a collision of art, commerce, and ethics, our process poses the question “how may one live the good life in relation to global environmental challenges?” This philosophy invites the buyer become a collaborator versus merely a consumer. While this attempt remains largely a gesture, Metaphor Organic works to constantly improve its triple bottom line, to not only meet, but also to keep raising the standard for sustainable business.

More about Metaphor Organic can be found here.

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  • "A salve for the mute and a salve for the tongue. A swishing lotion for inside the mouth, to protect the speaker from cream induced prophecy. An unwitting release of secrets, compelled forth by perfect application, unbeknownst, of a cream." - Ben Marcus, from the issue's short story

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