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Willful Creatures: Stories


Willful Creatures: Stories Cover

ISBN13: 9780385720977
ISBN10: 0385720971
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miso, May 18, 2013 (view all comments by miso)
I brought this book with me when i moved to France for a year. It is a signed copy, and I was worried about ruining in because it was such a pretty book. I think I read it very gently, which is appropriate. The stories are beautiful, so delicate and sweet or sad. Bender's characters do weird things when they freak out, and I often think that if I were just a little more mentally unstable that it would be a good idea to try them, that the characters are definitely on to something. Like, I should go hide in a closet at a party and cover myself with a big pile of everyone's coats. Or eat soap when i fear Intimacy. It's a stimulating and delightful read.
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Cassie Guess, April 8, 2011 (view all comments by Cassie Guess)
This collection is unlike anything I have ever read. A potpourri of interesting characters in completely original settings and situations, this book will not let you down. Every story has a twist of reality that would take place in another world, and while you may find yourself relating to the stories in some silly kind of way, it will take your imagination to the brink.
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Finkella, January 2, 2010 (view all comments by Finkella)
There are many stories you read and think, what an interesting story or what lovely writing, then, there are stories that you read and you cannot even think afterwords as you are simply blown away. Aimee Bender is such an artist with the English language that reading a story of hers is like meeting with an old friend who knows just what to say to make you laugh from the depths of your heart, to make you think clearly for the first time in a long time, and to remind you that there are those moments that make life truly worth living. Benders' stories are magical and fairy tale-esque however, Bender always keeps an adult audience in mind. There is reason and rationale yet there is a magical understanding that such things as a tiny pet man, a woman with potato children and a boy with keys for fingers truly can exist. If I had not already heard of Benders' work categorized under the genre 'Fabulism,' I would recommend creating such a genre, purely for this rare new way of writing that Willful Creatures embodies from cover to cover.
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Jennifer Marquardt, January 1, 2010 (view all comments by Jennifer Marquardt)
I loved (and coveted) all of Bender's short stories, each of them quirky and fabulist. Bender excavates what she calls "the unconscious" through such characters as the boy born with fingers for keys, who goes through his life finding the doors he can unlock while simultaneously recovering his family history and acquiring his own family. Or the woman who becomes mother to a gaggle of potato children that insistently gestate in her kitchen, finding her own place in a community of neighbors and gardeners and lovers. These are stories of finding one's place and history, told via fairy tale.
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amabre, June 4, 2009 (view all comments by amabre)
This is a tremendous book. I liked The Girl in the Flammable Skirt very much but this hits a little harder. All of these stories are fantastic. The one about the pumpkin head couple that have a son with an Iron head is amazing. Its so unreal yet the emotion it evokes is an intense combination of every real feeling the reader has ever felt. Its about being an outcast. Its about being loved anyway-or rather, because of our eccentricities. And she writes with such lyrical subtlety...the words read smoothly and quick but looking back (i read this about a year ago) i can recall so much detail and feeling. These stories are more tangible than you will realize. Read it.
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Product Details

Bender, Aimee
Anchor Books
Short Stories (single author)
Fantasy fiction, American
Stories (single author)
Literature-A to Z
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Publication Date:
Grade Level:
8.32x4.84x.61 in. .45 lbs.

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Featured Titles » Literature
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z

Willful Creatures: Stories New Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$14.95 In Stock
Product details 224 pages Anchor Books - English 9780385720977 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

Aimee Bender always manages to tell stories that are both surreal and whimsical, yet entirely emotionally relatable. In Willful Creatures she weaves stories of people with keys as fingers or irons as heads that draw you in and perfectly capture the human condition. She never fails to make you feel weird and wonderful at the same time.

"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Fifteen stories bursting with heart and marvel make up this daringly original collection by Bender (The Girl in the Flammable Skirt). Nameless characters lend the tales an allegorical feel and heighten the emotional impact, as in one story's breathlessly cinematic love scene between a seducer (identified only by an expletive, 'the mother') and his prey ('the starlet'). With stories that turn on stark cruelty, Bender deftly forces uncomfortable identification with unsympathetic protagonists who torment the weak: like 'Debbieland' 's collective 'we' of predatory girls, and the man in 'End of the Line' who purchases a miniature man as a pet and tortures him. Elsewhere, she evokes tender relationships with a balance of earthy heartbreak and otherworldly strangeness. In 'Dearth,' the sudden appearance of seven potato-children forces the solitary protagonist into messy motherhood; in 'Ironhead,' a pumpkin-headed couple grieves for their dead child, whose heavy head, literally a clothes iron, kills him with its debilitating weight; in 'The Leading Man,' a boy with key-shaped fingers wishes only to unlock the secret of his father's wartime trauma. Bender's surrealism is never gratuitous in the fantastical yet truthful stories of this singular collection. Agent, Henry Dunow. (Aug.)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review A Day" by , "Aimee Bender has created a series of glisteningly weird miniatures....Willful Creatures has such precise detail, such tangible feeling, that it is hard to put down. And at best, Bender's vision, with its dark, plucky humor and touches of the bizarre, has the power to make us cringe for our own world, with its many emotional mishaps and moral failings." (read the entire Esquire review)
"Review A Day" by , "Willful Creatures achieves what many story collections do not: it leaves an emotional impression that transcends the individual stories, but does not erase them. This may explain why her readers are so devoted: we feel as though we've witnessed the miraculous rebirth of the short story....Bender's stories are gothic fiction in which mutation and deformity are the resurrection of hope. Amen." (read the entire review)
"Review" by , "I am a long-standing, passionate fan of Aimee Bender's stories. Her images explode, her words ignite. Watching her imagination catch fire remains a sustaining joy in my readerly life." Alice Sebold, author of The Lovely Bones
"Review" by , "Second story collection from a keen stylist intent on rewriting the grim fable of modern life....A handful of real moments, presented with bite and wit."
"Review" by , "To curl up with an Aimee Bender story is to thank heaven you ever learned to read in the first place....What a treat to spend 15 stories in Bender's vast and wonderfully unhinged imagination. (Grade: A)"
"Review" by , "With clear, crisp writing, Bender's stories resonate long after the final page is turned in this remarkable collection."
"Review" by , "Lyrical and lovely, Bender's prose is also matter-of-fact and direct. She can turn a phrase that takes your breath away....[S]he is Hemingway on an acid trip; her choices are twisted, both ethereal and surprisingly weighty."
"Review" by , "Bender's stories...range in length and voice, floating in the ethereal space between naturalism and magic realism....This collection moves along effortlessly, though you will linger in the 'what' it reveals."
"Review" by , "[Bender's stories] are often funny, sometimes dangerous and always strange....None of these stories is longer than a lunch-hour read. Most you could wolf in a coffee break. But they stick with you. They are not realistic, but they are oddly real."
"Review" by , "[A] truly original voice deserving our full and closest attention. Her work soars, allowing readers to view life in a wholly new way. Willful Creatures is an essential work that should be required reading for any who delight in deft prose and truly empathetic portraits of the human condition."
"Review" by , "Bender creates contemporary fairy tales, cushioned by goofy humor and a deep tenderness for her characters, that aren't always as dark or as sinister as they initially appear."
"Review" by , "This collection again demonstrates Bender's edgy and brilliant storytelling gifts....The weirdness of Bender's well-crafted stories and their spectacle of human emotion will captivate readers' imaginations, hearts, and souls. Highly recommended."
"Synopsis" by , Aimee Benders 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 womans 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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