Selected by The Los Angeles Times as one of the Best Books of 2000.
Synopses & Reviews
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.
"Witty and engaging....[A] fanciful and original take on the quietly helter-skelter world that lies within." The New York Times
"This novel is light as a zephyr and unique as a snowflake." The Washington Post
"[Bender] has taken an achingly idiosyncratic story and rendered it with eloquence, hilarity, and ominous precision....Beguiling and chilling at once." The Boston Globe
"A breezy, electric smash of a first novel." The Philadelphia Inquirer
"Aimee Bender is one writer who is shouting clearly and beautifully from the hilltops that our lives are most definitely not ordinary and typical." The Denver Post
"Delicately surreal....[An Invisible Sign of My Own] reads like a Brothers Grimm fairy tale overlaid with the futuristic alienation of Philip K. Dick." Entertainment Weekly
"Bender once again creates a woman passionately on the brink in An Invisible Sign of My Own, her first novel. This time it's Mona Gray, an obsessive-compulsive who knocks on wood until her knuckles are raw and bleeding, sleeps with the light on, washes her mouth out with soap whenever she feels sexual desire, and takes an ax home for her 20th birthday, contemplating cutting off body parts in an attempt to mentally stave off her father's impending death from a mysterious illness. Death, to Mona, is the ultimate loss of control: 'A sharp, dark sliver; a loose, pale pellet. On the day of your death, it melts out through your entire body, a warm, broken bath bead.'" Mike Albo, Salon.com
"With its sparse, ironic prose, this novel is a wonderful literary treatment of anxiety, depression, and compulsion. Readers of Bender's collection of short stories, The Girl in the Flammable Skirt, will not be disappointed, as well as those looking for a fresh, groundbreaking author." Michelle Kaske, Booklist
"Bender's gifts go beyond a wicked sense of humor. Stylistically, her prose is spare and evocative. She is masterful at depicting the awkwardness of male-female romance." Carmen Scheidel, Time Out New York
Mona Gray, a second grade math teacher, knocks on wood, adds her steps, and multiplies people in the park against one another. But while she maintains this precarious equilibrium in her strange, tidy universe, love intrudes in the form of the new science teacher.
About the Author
Aimee Bender lives in Los Angeles. Her stories have appeared in Granta, GQ, Story, Harper's, The Antioch Review, and several other publications. She is the author of The Girl in the Flammable Skirt.