Saturday, June 19, 2010

Aimee Bender

Aimee Bender is the author of four books: The Girl in the Flammable Skirt (1998) which was a New York Times Notable Book, An Invisible Sign of My Own (2000) which was a Los Angeles Times pick of the year, Willful Creatures (2005) which was nominated by The Believer as one of the best books of the year, and the newly released The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake (2010).

Earlier this month I asked her what she was reading. Her reply:
I just finished Big Machine by Victor LaValle-- and what a book. It's sprawling, and he's packing a lot in there, and it's magical and dark and noir-ish, and more. About 2/3's of the way through, he makes some very risky choices, and they are the most felt choices in the book, to me. I was happily reading along, and then the stakes get higher, but never in a typical stake-heightening kind of way. These are outlandish scenes and happenings that feel haunting and unsettling and right. His progression does feel Murakami-like to me, (a big compliment from me, because I just love how Murakami tells a story); LaValle's a very different writer, and Ricky Rice's voice is very appealing, another reason I thorougly enjoyed the book-- but I was just so thrilled to experience the risk and reward of that development.

Soon I'll be reading Marilynne Robinson's Home-- I just started it and I'm going to bring it with me on my book tour. I loved Gilead, and Home is about one of the characters in Gilead. And I read Gilead last summer-- it took a certain kind of quiet state of mind to read it-- it's not that it's slow, it's just quiet, and each page takes time and concentration to absorb. The language is gorgeous and I found Gilead so moving-- these letters written by a religious man, a preacher, to his very young son, as he's dying. So I'm actually looking to Home to be a kind of antidote, too, to airports and travel and scurrying.

Also just finished Belly Up, by Stu Gibbs-- a new book for the 9-12 crowd, (and beyond) about a possible hippo murder at a zoo. Very funny and lively-- and a good kind of sophisticated kid mystery.

And I'm still rereading Amy Gerstler's new book of poems, Dear Creature. Just the first one-- a love letter to her niece, kept me rereading several times before I could move along. Then poems from the points of views of animals, including a great one from a dog explaining why it is glorious to smell shit, and how we misunderstand it all, and each poem so full of heart and smarts and imagination.
Visit Aimee Bender's website.

The Page 99 Test: Aimmee Bender's Willful Creatures.

--Marshal Zeringue