Ether

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.

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


Reviews from Goodreads.com

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By Oriana (Brooklyn, NY) · ★★☆☆☆ · January 18, 2012
before reading; I already love Ben Ehrenreich -- The Suitors was beautiful, and he had that story about squid and the end of the world in a McSweeney's a ways back that broke my heart. Plus he made a Spotify playlist of inspirations for this book, which is full of enough lovely things (Nico, Nina... ...more
By Diane (The United States) · ★★★★★ · October 17, 2011
Ether by Ben Ehrenreich is like baklava, a multi-layered delight. Are things as they appear, or not? How do we see the world, the universe? Is God the Devil, or is the Devil God? Are we in the midst of the Apocalypse or is this just business as usual? Ehrenreich deploys his prose as a maestro con... ...more
By Mpho3 (Detroit, MI) · ★★★★☆ · February 18, 2015
Beautiful and bewildering "Biblical noir."

In his own words, here is Ben Ehrenreich's Book Notes music playlist for his novel, Ether:


1. Gang of Four, "Ether"

This one may seem obvious, but it's not just the title that gets it on the list—it's that screaming bass and the song's furious insistence on... ...more
By Ultima (The United States) · ★★★★★ · September 24, 2011
What an extraordinary book--funny, dark, twisted, eerie and profound. It wasn't at all what I expected, completely took me by surprise, has been haunting me since I put it down a week ago. It grabs you right away, but gets stranger, more complicated and more sadly wonderful as it goes. The plot f... ...more
By Alec (The United States) · ★★★★★ · November 21, 2011
I got to see the author read from this book at City Lights Bookstore & Publishers. My friend loved the book but I hadn't read it yet. His writing is wonderful, and there isn't a single wasted line in this book. It's dreamlike and full of symbols. I had to ponder what the author was trying to... ...more
By City Lights (San Francisco, CA) · ★★★★★ · January 23, 2013
"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 and Tintin in the New World

"A compact work of bi... ...more
By Paul (The United States) · ★☆☆☆☆ · February 18, 2012
a little to precious for my taste and the backstory unfolds so slowly that i stopped reading about 1/2 way through ...more
By Ashley (Melbourne, Australia) · ★★★★☆ · December 17, 2011
It's been described as Biblical Noir and I can't do better than that. All too brief but definitely worth a visit... ...more
By Edan (Los Angeles, CA) · April 22, 2012
Reading for my panel at the LA Times Festival of Books! ...more