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Ben H. Winters: When the bedbugs do bite

It seems like a dream — a huge, two-bedroom in Brooklyn available fornext to nothing. Of course, Alex and Susan Wendt, characters in the newnovel “Bedbugs” jump at it.

It seems like a dream — a huge, two-bedroom in Brooklyn available for next to nothing. Of course, Alex and Susan Wendt, characters in the new novel “Bedbugs” jump at it. But like all things real estate, there’s no such thing as too good of a deal: The Wendts’ new home seems to be infested with bedbugs. Or is it? Could it be Susan is imagining it all? Ben H. Winters (author of the hit hybrid “Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters”) takes the anxiety of apartment living to new heights with his thriller, “Bedbugs: A Novel.” Here is his method behind the itchiness:



How bedbugs make the perfect monster:

“They are just rife with anxiety. Think about it: They come in the dark and are so hard to get rid of. We already live in such close quarters, so there is the dirtiness that seems to radiate out of these little bugs. It feels so outside of our control and unsettling that there are little things that could be crawling on us and [we don’t] even know it.”

They are also the perfect literary device:

“It’s the tradition like ‘The Turn of the Screw,’ or ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’ — they are going through this horror but [Alex] can’t get anyone to help her and she can’t escape because where will she go? She has bedbugs. She is unwelcome in friends’ homes.”

How things got scary even for him:

“Once you start reading about [bedbugs] online, you can’t stop thinking about them. I started kind of freaking out — imagining I was itching, noticing little marks on my body. I’ve never had them, thank God. And hopefully I will have warned them off by writing about them.”