Synopses & Reviews
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.
"Bender became a bestselling novelist with The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake, but her new collection returns readers to her real forte: short stories that combine gnomic postmodern prose with whimsical fairy tale reveries. And yet whimsy is an odd word to apply to the wife of 'The Red Ribbon,' who insists her husband pay her top dollar for every coupling, or 'The Fake Nazi,' about a secretary who becomes obsessed with the life story of a guilt-ridden old man who turns himself in for war crimes he claims to have committed. Even the tales that resemble children's storybooks, like the title story (a clever subversion of Charles Perrault's 'Donkeyskin') and 'The Devourings,' are haunted by a taut, sardonic melancholy. Dressmakers labor to perfect the color of moon, a talented seamstress mends the tears in tigers' fur, ravenous ogres vomit the bones of their victims 'an insistent movement from feet up to mouth' results in body parts that 'lay there in the grass, glazed in a layer of spit and acid' and a piece of cake stuck in a tree becomes talisman to Bender's brand of sweet dripping darkness. But the best stories are mood pieces about the mysteries of female friendship ('Bad Return') and bittersweet pageants populated by mall-worshipping adolescents ('Lemonade'), still fanciful but so light on gimmick that the reader senses like the lovelorn atheist in 'The Doctor and the Rabbi' 'the realization that there were many ways to live a life.' Many ways to write a life too, and Bender colors them with a tincture out of dreams. The world is everywhere present in this collection, but it gets the moon in, too. Agent: Henry Dunow, Dunow, Carlson & Lerner." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"All these stories made my mouth water."
Alan Cheuse, NPR
"Stories that range from fairy tales to quasi-erotica, all showing Bender's versatility....Bender's gifts as an author are prodigious, and with each story, she moves the reader in surprising, not to say startling, ways."
About the Author
Aimee Bender is the author of the novels The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake — a New York Times bestseller — and An Invisible Sign of My Own, and of the collections The Girl in the Flammable Skirt and Willful Creatures. Her works have been widely anthologized and have been translated into sixteen languages. She lives in Los Angeles.