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The Girl in the Flammable Skirt: Stories Paperback – August 17, 1999
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That same combo--sex and off-kilter surrealism--provides Bender with her modus operandi. In "Call My Name," for example, a young heiress tails a stranger back to his apartment, gets her dress sliced off, and then consents to be trussed to a chair while he watches a TV documentary about Mozart. "Quiet Please" features a libidinous librarian who takes on all, uh, comers in the back room. Bender isn't, it should be said, simply a purveyor of French postcards. Her prose is exquisitely shaped, and its singsong rhythms suggest something out of a wised-up, whacked-out fairy tale. Indeed, if the Brothers Grimm had been a little more attuned to the pleasure principle, their fables might have boasted at least a family resemblance to Aimee Bender's. --James Marcus --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.
Admittedly, I had binged a few of the latter in an interim of reading the former, but after a few vids and jumping back into the book, I did find myself marveling at a similar feeling of being somewhere familiar yet just slightly off-putting, but in the best moments being able to follow and appreciate the logic. Bender's first collection is stunning for its movement, how a single sentence can move the story along in such surprising ways, how her characters never make predictable moves and thus feel even more human, even when donning backpacks made of stone or birthing their own mothers. Bender's worlds are just slightly off-kilter, which at first had me wondering if they needed to go farther, but stories like "The Healer," where one girl has a hand of fire and another of ice, pursues its own logic artfully to bring you somewhere that is utterly profound and not merely fairy tale-esque. Though I wasn't as much of a fan of stories like "Fugue" and "Dreaming in Polish," I was overall amazed at how the absurdity of her worlds become quickly traceable and those strange words and emotions are actually rolling off those lips. "Marzipan," "Quiet Please," the aforementioned "Healer" and the title story are all exquisite.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Aimee Bender is one of those authors who could write a dissertation on the invention of the phone book and I'd probably consider reading it. Read morePublished 10 days ago by Nikkibird
I love this collection of short stories and it's probably one of my favorites. It's unusual, original, sometimes sad and sombre. Read morePublished 10 months ago by Jillian Mckeown
These stories and the author's style are so awful. I don't understand how this book has so many high ratings.Published 12 months ago by Scott D. Little
Aimee Bender. She's amazing. This is her first book that she wrote after her MFA from UC-Irvine, so I personally don't think it's her best bc she was a growing writer. Read morePublished 16 months ago by Sarah L Sassone
This zany collection of short stories offers a range of quirky, yet beautifully written prose. There is a definite underlying theme throughout them all that creates cohesion,... Read morePublished 17 months ago by Michelle
Aimee Bender rocks. Lovely writer and lovely person. Her stories are rewritings of Kafka, Borges and Angela Carter. They are feminist parables of modernity.Published 17 months ago by Mom with Ph.D.