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STORY SUMMARY The Silentists Adapted from the novel, Notable American Women by Ben Marcus Karen Livecchia March 27, 2012 On an isolated farm in Ohio, a group of American women led by the messianic matriarch Jane Dark practice all means of behavior modification in an attempt to attain complete stillness and silence in a radical sect of women called The Silentists. Witnessing and subjected to their cultish actions is one Ben Marcus (whose bitter and confused father, Michael Marcus, may be buried in the back yard), and whose cheerfully remorseless mother, Jane Marcus (who emphatically refuses to be called “Mother”), enthusiastically condones the use of her son for generally unsuccessful breeding purposes…among other things. This strange and futuristic tale is composed primarily of the fictional Marcus's account of his youth spent in the group's Ohio compound as a test subject and sire for a planned emotion-free society. Adapted from the darkly comic debut novel by Ben Marcus Notable American Women, this is a challenging and bizarre account of family life within an oppressive cult, whose only goal is to put "an end to motion and noise" for the purpose of complete "emotion removal." Maintaining a cold distance between the characters and the events they're describing, the story places the viewer squarely in the emotional vacuum in which Ben Marcus is raised. The effect is akin to viewing the world from behind glass, or from behind a layer of shed skin, as the fictional Marcus does when he wears the empty husk of his sister. Beyond its detached creepiness lies an allegory deeply concerned with the dangers of conformity and the maniacal pursuit of human advancement.