"A collection of wistful, witty stories." --Esquire
"Hilarious, deep and a little bit dirty." --Harper's Bazaar
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.
A 1998 New York Times Notable Book of the Year. Selected by the Los Angeles Times as one of the best works of fiction of 1998.
The wise, highly original 16 stories in Bender's debut collection take place at the intersection of fairy tale and everyday life, of hilarity and heartbreak. From the book's first sentence ("My lover is experiencing reverse evolution"), it's clear that this world is far from ordinary. As the lover in the story ("The Rememberer") moves from ape to sea turtle to salamander, the reader moves from startled dislocation to delight. After this strong opening, what follows is equally good and equally surprising. The plots range from the unexpected to the fantastic: a woman gives birth to her own mother; in an effort to drive away grief, a bereaved librarian seduces man after man in the library's back room; a mermaid and an imp enjoy a high-school romance; an orphaned boy develops an uncanny talent for finding lost objects. As Bender explores a spectrum of human relationships, her perfectly pitched, shapely writing blurs the lines between prose and poetry. While full of funny moments, these tales are neither slight nor glib. They recognize that to be human is to be immensely fragile, and their characters are always unmistakably human. In "What You Left in the Ditch," a woman whose husband has returned from the war without lips tells her teenage lover, "The most unbearable thing I think by far... is hope," yet hope--that isolation and grief are temporary, that love exists, that the ugly can be made beautiful--is what she and all the stories' bruised and lonely characters insist on. Bender's is a unique and compassionate voice, and her debut is a string of jewels. First serial to Granta, GQ and Story; author tour.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Aching and gorgeous
Beautiful, haunting stories. You won't regret these, and they will most likely stay with you long after you finish reading them. Bender has a lovely way with words.
Witty and wonderful
Fantastic tales that stick with you long after you've finished puzzling them out and smiling with satisfaction!