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The bestselling author of The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake returns with a wondrous collection of dreamy, strange, and magical stories.Truly beloved by readers and critics alike, Aimee Bender has become known as something of an enchantress whose lush prose is "moving, fanciful, and gorgeously strange" (People), "richly imagined and bittersweet" (Vanity Fair), and "full of provocative ideas" (The Boston Globe). In her deft hands, "relationships and mundane activities take on mythic qualities" (The Wall Street Journal).In this collection, Bender's unique talents sparkle brilliantly in stories about people searching for connection through love, sex, and family--while navigating the often painful realities of their lives. A traumatic event unfolds when a girl with flowing hair of golden wheat appears in an apple orchard, where a group of people await her. A woman plays out a prostitution fantasy with her husband and finds she cannot go back to her old sex life. An ugly woman marries an ogre and struggles to decide if she should stay with him after he mistakenly eats their children. Two sisters travel deep into Malaysia, where one learns the art of mending tigers who have been ripped to shreds.In these deeply resonant stories--evocative, funny, beautiful, and sad--we see ourselves reflected as if in a funhouse mirror. Aimee Bender has once again proven herself to be among the most imaginative, exciting, and intelligent writers of our time.
A grief-stricken librarian decides to have sex with every man who enters her library. A half-mad, unbearably beautiful heiress follows a strange man home, seeking total sexual abandon: He only wants to watch game shows. A woman falls in love with a hunchback; when his deformity turns out to be a prosthesis, she leaves him. A wife whose husband has just returned from the war struggles with the heartrending question: Can she still love a man who has no lips?Aimee Bender's stories portray a world twisted on its axis, a place of unconvention that resembles nothing so much as real life, in all its grotesque, beautiful glory. From the first line of each tale she lets us know she is telling a story, but the moral is never quite what we expect. Bender's prose is glorious: musical and colloquial, inimitable and heartrending.Here are stories of men and women whose lives are shaped--and sometimes twisted--by the power of extraordinary desires, erotic and otherwise. The Girl in the Flammable Skirt is the debut of a major American writer.From the Trade Paperback edition.
Rose Edelstein está a punto de cumplir nueve años, y prueba a escondidas un pedazo de pastel que su madre ha cocinado para ella. Ella espera disfrutar del sabor del limón mezclado con el azúcar, pero de repente su boca se llena de soledad y tristeza. Sin que nadie sepa cómo ni por qué, la niña descubre que puede adivinar los sentimientos de quien cocina, y desde entonces comer será su arma secreta para conocer mejor a los demás. No solo los platos más sofisticados, sino unas simples patatas fritas o unas tostadas con mantequilla tienen historias que contar, y ahí está Rose, intentando acercarse al dolor de los demás y aprender a vivir. Intrigada y a menudo asustada, la niña descubre el lado oscuro de su propia familia: ese hogar en apariencia feliz se derrumba bajo el peso de la ansiedad de su madre, la indolencia de su padre y las extravagancias de un hermano que intenta huir de la rutina negando la realidad. Los años pasan, y por fin esa chiquilla que ya es mujer encontrará el buen sabor de la vida. ¿Cómo? Para saberlo, habrá que disfrutar de esta hermosa fábula que Aimee Bender ha cocinado con talento e imaginación. "Extraordinaria... Una excelente muestra de cómo mezclar la buena cocina y la buena literatura." Time Out New York
Aimee Bender's stunning debut collection, The Girl in the Flammable Skirt, proved her to be one of the freshest voices in American fiction. Now, in her first novel, she builds on that early promise.Mona Gray was ten when her father contracted a mysterious illness and she became a quitter, abandoning each of her talents just as pleasure became intense. The only thing she can't stop doing is math: She knocks on wood, adds her steps, and multiplies people in the park against one another. When Mona begins teaching math to second-graders, she finds a ready audience. But the difficult and wonderful facts of life keep intruding. She finds herself drawn to the new science teacher, who has an unnerving way of seeing through her intricately built façade. Bender brilliantly directs her characters, giving them unexpected emotional depth and setting them in a calamitous world, both fancifully surreal and startlingly familiar.From the Trade Paperback edition.
Following in the footsteps of the late great Lester Bangs -- the most revered and irreverent of rock 'n' roll critics -- twenty-four celebrated writers have penned stories inspired by great songs. Just as Bangs cast new light on a Rod Stewart classic with his story "Maggie May," about a wholly unexpected connection between an impressionable young man and an aging, alcoholic hooker, the diverse, electrifying stories here use songs as a springboard for a form dubbed the lit riff. Alongside Bangs's classic work, you'll find stories by J.T. LeRoy, who puts a recovering teenage drug abuser in a dentist's chair with nothing but the Foo Fighters's "Everlong" -- blaring through the P.A. -- to fight the pain; Jonathan Lethem, whose narrator looks back on his lost innocence just as an extramarital affair careens to an end -- this to the tune "Speeding Motorcycle" as recorded by Yo La Tengo; and Jennifer Belle, who envisions a prequel to Paul Simon's "Graceland" -- one that takes place at a children's birthday party replete with a real live kangaroo. With original contributions from Tom Perrotta, Nelson George, Amanda Davis, Lisa Tucker, Aimee Bender, Darin Strauss, and many more -- riffing on everyone from Tom Waits and Bruce Springsteen to the White Stripes, Cat Power, and Bob Marley -- this is both an astounding collection of short stories and an extraordinary experiment in words and music. Soundtrack available from Saturation Acres Music & Recording Co.
The wondrous Aimee Bender conjures the lush and moving story of a girl whose magical gift is really a devastating curse. On the eve of her ninth birthday, unassuming Rose Edelstein, a girl at the periphery of schoolyard games and her distracted parents' attention, bites into her mother's homemade lemon-chocolate cake and discovers she has a magical gift: she can taste her mother's emotions in the cake. She discovers this gift to her horror, for her mother--her cheerful, good-with-crafts, can-do mother--tastes of despair and desperation. Suddenly, and for the rest of her life, food becomes a peril and a threat to Rose. The curse her gift has bestowed is the secret knowledge all families keep hidden--her mother's life outside the home, her father's detachment, her brother's clash with the world. Yet as Rose grows up she learns to harness her gift and becomes aware that there are secrets even her taste buds cannot discern. The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake is a luminous tale about the enormous difficulty of loving someone fully when you know too much about them. It is heartbreaking and funny, wise and sad, and confirms Aimee Bender's place as "a writer who makes you grateful for the very existence of language" (San Francisco Chronicle).From the Hardcover edition.
Aimee Bender's Willful Creatures conjures a fantastical world in which authentic love blooms. This is a place where a boy with keys for fingers is a hero, a woman's children are potatoes, and a little boy with an iron for a head is born to a family of pumpkin heads. With her singular mix of surrealism, musical prose, and keenly felt emotion, Bender once again proves herself to be a masterful chronicler of the human condition.
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