willful creatures

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Sunday, January 22, 2006
by Aimee Bender #1

This collection of short stories is so good! I liked her first collection well enough, (The Girl in the Flammable Skirt: Stories) , but I really liked this one. Is it because it is objectively better? Is it because I read it with more distance from the latest Kelly Link? Who knows. What I do know is that you should read it if you haven't already.

One of the things that I love about these stories (and Bender in general) is that she taps into darker feminine feelings. Not that I am feeling particularly oppressed or anything, but there is a hmmmm, I don't know - a cultural expectation that women are peacemakers and civilizers. (does that even make sense?) Despite being a 'Violence is Not the Answer' kind of person, if I am honest there is a small part of me that would get into head-cracking brawls in parking lots. In Off, the main character behaves in socially unacceptable ways. She knows it, she doesn't care. (it sort of reminded me of the Fiona Apple lyric I'm going to make a mistake, I'm gonna do it on purpose). The character is at once sympathetic and horrible. I loved reading about her, but would run as fast as I could if I saw her coming at me. (she would beat the shit out of me in a parking lot, for starters.)

Other stories that stand out particularly, a couple weeks after reading it : Motherfucker (about a man who seduces single mothers, of course), I Will Pick Out Your Ribs (from My Teeth), and Job's Job (heartbreaking and wonderful). I also really liked Fruit and Words- it struck me as being the most dreamlike - not just the words (read it and you'll know what I mean), but how time passed (watch the fruit) and even how the proprietress changed in her attitude to the main character. Those kinds of twists and reversals seem very dreamlike to me - like when one landscape changes to another in ways that don't make sense to your logical waking brain but make total sense while you sleep.
2 comments on "willful creatures"
  1. I heard Aimee read "Job's Job" here in Santa Monica, and she (and Job) SLAYED me, dead. Though I since have risen.

  2. I'm glad it was a reversible condition- although it sounds like you may have vampire complications. Be careful before heading out into the full sun. Powell's Blog has what they call a 'bookcast' which looks to be Aimee Bender being interviewed and reading from "Ironhead." I haven't listened to it yet, though.


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