Customer Reviews

111
4.0 out of 5 stars
The Girl in the Flammable Skirt: Stories
Format: PaperbackChange
Price:$12.05 + Free shipping with Amazon Prime
Your rating(Clear)Rate this item


There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.

19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
Aimee Bender's stories are perhaps some of the strangest being published in contemporary literature. With her surreal touch and a nod toward the Brother Grimm, this, her first collection, reads like a series of quick dreams - some disturbing, some funny, and all without regard to the laws of reality. The opening story, "Call My Name", begins the collection with the promise of convention, albeit it an off-kilter one, when a woman follows a man home, hoping to seduce him, only to discover that he has a simple but strange desire that only marginally involves her. While the emotions and situation in this story are odd, they don't prepare the reader for the first line of the next story, "Steven returned from the war without lips." None of Bender's characters are whole, whether they have an actually soccer-ball size hole in their stomachs ("Marzipan"), whether they are imps and mermaids in cognito ("Drunken Mimi"), or whether they are grieving for loved ones. In "Quiet Please," a librarian whose father has just died fulfills the librarian fantasies of several male patrons until she meets one whose extraordinary feats of strength finally exposes her emotional pain. In a line that applies to all the stories, the librarian acknowledges that "it's hard to tell the difference between fantasy and reality."
These odd, rambunctious, and startling stories are not for the literal-minded, but they will charm those who like their short fiction with an irreverent edge.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on April 8, 2009
Look, most of you are not going to like this collection. I do not recommend it for you. You will probably leave it unfinished, annoyed that you spent the money on it, and slightly cynical about any of my future book recommendations. Do not read this book. Unless...

Unless you're ok with sifting through this odd collection of freakshow characters, mundane settings and surreal plots to discover prose that cuts right through you and stories that leave you aching (usually) for the protagonist and wary of the world around you. I know what you're thinking. I, too, have a pretentious dislike of the overuse of the word "surreal," but I looked it up and it means "having the disorienting, hallucinatory quality of a dream." There may not be a more fitting description for Aimee Bender. Her stories are grounded in middle, modern America: suburban, prosaic places peopled with small-minded, self-centered individuals. And then something happens: like a boyfriend devolves into an amoeba, or a girl with a hand of fire and a girl with a hand of ice become friends, or a mermaid and an imp see through each other's high school student disguises, or a pregnant woman gives birth to her (previously deceased) mother. Something that makes the surreal seem commonplace-- and more importantly, vice-versa.

This is a collection of stories about community, about relationships, about the intrigue of being both an outsider and an insider and about deciding whether or not to face and accept the truth-- however weird it may be. Bender is sweet, irreverent, uplifting and completely depressing-- often within the same story. And seriously, you're probably not going to like it.
11 commentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on April 30, 2001
These stories remind me of Francesca Lia Block, but even more surreal. I read the book in one evening. Many times I came away puzzled, or turning the page for the rest of the story, but it is so refreshing in these days of computers and Canned TV, ads and radio to find someone with true Imagination that I have to give her 5 stars. I read "the Healing" in Story Magazine, and had to go find more of Aimee. I don't think the stories are necessarily deep. Existential--maybe. Poetry, yes--if poetry is a love affair with words. I'd rate her as a wonderful writer. Wish I had that talent.
11 commentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
13 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on May 24, 1999
After reading through the stories in this collection over three times, I have to say that Aimee Bender is one of the best new writers I've read in years. Her stories are language-driven, impacted with brilliant images and NEW ways of describing emotions and situations that are universal. Perhaps this is why some commentators have declared that she is only out for the outlandish and bizarre, and hasn't spent a day in the real world. It's because she's not going the old, well-traveled route to show us life in all its darkness and glory. Also, any slightly savvy reader would see that she's working with form and structure, adopting the speed and economy and shocking language of fairy tales and applying it to tell modern stories. Some reviewers have said that her characters aren't connected to the world or even to their own selves, as though this is something Ms. Bender doesn't realize. They seem to see this as a weakness of hers. Perhaps they've failed to realize that Bender's characters being disconnected from society and their own selves is her point. And a poignant one, too. She's awesome. I'll re-read these stories for the rest of my life.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on August 4, 1998
A review from Salon Books: "...sometimes you can practically hear Bender straining to set up dramatic catalysts for her characters' epiphanies. Reading fiction always requires some suspension of disbelief, but ... Bender seems merely to have manufactured an artificially dangerous situation for her heroine just to make her point, and it's so jarringly blatant that it throws you out of the story. It's just one example of why "The Girl in the Flammable Skirt" never quite ignites."
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Aimee Bender's short stories are addictive. I picked up the book the other night intending to read a few pages, ended up reading the whole thing. Her ability to make me laugh with a single phrase is astounding. Everybody who reads this collection talks about it. Ms. Bender is incapable of writing boring prose. This is a first edition you can heirloom to your grandson, who will be writing his college thesis on "Myth and Ritual in Bender's Early Fiction."
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on December 28, 1999
Intensely strange and wonderful stories.
Just look at all the reviews posted here. One star or five stars. I think that says it all.
To thrill or offend. I can't think of a better goal for a writer. These stories thrilled me to the core!
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on August 23, 1998
Aimee Bender's stories took my breath away. From the first pages I was aware I had picked up something that I hadn't seen in years: a writer in love with language. Individual words come together to mean more in the hands of an artist like Bender than they could outside the world she so abley creates. I loved her characters and the living rooms of pain and solace they offered up to me. Having come from a reading background of manly prose full of robust attitude and rightgeous self-assurance, I found Bender's world to be the world I had been missing. Words are like notes in each individual song of a story. She plays a beautiful music and it is one we all deeply need to hear.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on August 12, 1998
"..When Bender attempts more ambitious pieces, such as "Fugue," she fails to generate adequate momentum. Too many of the book's tales concern young women who seek out anonymous sex as a way of dealing with existential crises. In the end, The Girl in the Flammable Skirt sparks but can't ignite entirely."
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on August 6, 2000
A young author, fresh out of graduate school, Ms. Bender offers a collection of short stories which cannot be categorized, written in a style which cannot be labelled. While she is writing about relationships in much the same way as countless other authors, Bender adds a magical twist to her stories. In one of her stories a man discovers that a hole has developed in his midsection. Not an ulcer, but an actual hole, like a donut. Another story features a librarian who lures quiet readers one at a time into her backroom for a few minutes of wild, uninhibited sex. And yet another story focuses on a boyfriend who is undergoing a type of reverse evolution. Bender's strength is that she doesn't allow this gimmicky style to control her writing. Her stories are as well-written and entertaining as they are imaginative.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
     
 
Customers who viewed this also viewed
Willful Creatures
Willful Creatures by Aimee Bender (Paperback - August 8, 2006)
$13.15

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake
The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender (Paperback - April 19, 2011)
$12.37

The Color Master
The Color Master by Aimee Bender (Paperback - April 22, 2014)
$12.92
 
     

Send us feedback

How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you?
Let us know here.

Your Recently Viewed Items and Featured Recommendations 
 

After viewing product detail pages, look here to find an easy way to navigate back to pages you are interested in.