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26+ Works 6,486 Members 386 Reviews 42 Favorited

About the Author

As a child, Aimee Bender enjoyed reading fairy tales, particularly the stories of Hans Christian Andersen. She began creating her own stories, and later, as an elementary school teacher, she enjoyed telling her students both traditional fairy tales and stories she had made up herself. Eventually, show more she began writing short stories, which have been published in a variety of magazines, including Granta, GQ, Story, and The Antioch Review. Her first book, The Girl in the Flammable Skirt, a collection of her stories, was published in 1998. Bender's work is intended for adults rather than children, but many of her short stories could be described as contemporary fairy tales. Bender's stories often include some of the same elements that she enjoyed encountering in fairy tales, such as of magic, fantasy, surprise, humor, and absurdity. Although she has found success as a writer, Bender continues to teach because she enjoys the interaction with others and feels she needs that contact to balance the solitude that is required for her writing. In addition to teaching elementary school, she has taught in the UCLA Extension Writers' Program and in the writing program at the University of California at Irvine, where she received her M.F.A. Bender lives in Los Angeles. (Bowker Author Biography) show less

Works by Aimee Bender

Associated Works

McSweeney's Mammoth Treasury of Thrilling Tales (2002) — Contributor — 1,469 copies
The Future Dictionary of America (2004) — Contributor — 626 copies
The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2005 (2005) — Contributor — 616 copies
The New Dead: A Zombie Anthology (2010) — Contributor — 370 copies
Feeling Very Strange: The Slipstream Anthology (2006) — Contributor — 306 copies
Citrus County (2008) — Contributor — 288 copies
xo Orpheus: Fifty New Myths (2013) — Contributor — 273 copies
The Anchor Book of New American Short Stories (2004) — Contributor — 262 copies
The Secret History of Fantasy (2010) — Contributor — 199 copies
Lit Riffs (2004) — Contributor — 167 copies
Granta 60: Unbelieveable (1997) — Contributor — 128 copies
The Writer's Notebook: Craft Essays from Tin House (2009) — Contributor — 124 copies
The Ecco Anthology of Contemporary American Short Fiction (2008) — Contributor — 122 copies
Burned Children of America (2001) — Contributor — 120 copies
Lost Tribe: Jewish Fiction from the Edge (2003) — Contributor — 116 copies
The Big Book of Modern Fantasy (2020) — Contributor — 108 copies
Give Our Regards to the Atomsmashers! Writers on Comics (2004) — Contributor — 106 copies
McSweeney's Issue 41 (McSweeney's Quarterly Concern) (2012) — Contributor — 77 copies
The Uncanny Reader: Stories from the Shadows (2015) — Contributor — 67 copies
The Secret Society of Demolition Writers (2005) — Contributor — 47 copies
Watchlist: 32 Stories by Persons of Interest (2015) — Contributor — 47 copies
Speculative Los Angeles (2021) — Contributor — 40 copies
The Writer's Notebook II: Craft Essays from Tin House (2012) — Contributor — 38 copies
The Best Bizarro Fiction of the Decade (2012) — Contributor — 38 copies
Stumbling and Raging (2005) — Contributor — 22 copies
Best American Fantasy 2 (2009) — Contributor — 20 copies
Fairy Tale Review: The Blue Issue (2006) — Contributor — 14 copies
A Manner of Being: Writers on Their Mentors (2015) — Contributor — 12 copies
Electric Literature No. 3 (2010) — Contributor — 10 copies
Choose Wisely: 35 Women Up To No Good (2015) — Contributor — 10 copies
Flashed: Sudden Stories in Comics and Prose (2016) — Contributor — 7 copies
Faerie Magazine, #25 Winter 2013: Mermaids (2013) — Contributor — 4 copies
Black Clock 1 (2004) — Contributor — 2 copies

Tagged

2010 (50) 21st century (46) American (60) American literature (85) anthology (704) collection (80) coming of age (77) contemporary (46) contemporary fiction (41) ebook (86) emotions (41) essays (84) fairy tales (119) family (102) fantasy (326) fiction (1,536) food (114) horror (71) humor (108) Kindle (60) library (43) literary fiction (47) literature (68) magical realism (268) McSweeney's (165) non-fiction (107) novel (77) own (68) politics (54) read (162) science fiction (113) short fiction (65) short stories (1,229) signed (55) slipstream (52) stories (65) to-read (1,050) unread (149) USA (44) writing (51)

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Reviews

This story is strange and I don't understand it at all, but I loved it anyway.
 
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hmonkeyreads | 273 other reviews | Jan 25, 2024 |
Was totally disappointed with this book. I feel like the time I spent reading it was wasted. I had thought it was a coming of age story about a little girl who could taste the cook's emotions in the food she ate. For example, she could taste her mother's unhappiness in a slice of cake, or once at a bakery, she could taste the anger in whatever it was she was eating that day. It sounded like an interesting idea to me which prompted me to try the book.

I ended up really disliking this book. It went way beyond the charm of a child tasting unhappiness or love or anger when she was able to idenitfy eggs as organic or cookies as coming from a factory in a specific part of the country. Spoiler alert ... if you plan on reading this book, stop reading this now.

The character of the girl had promise; but the rest of the family was a dysfunctional mess. It was hard to care about any of them. When it turned out the strange brother had "magical" qualities too, it was a bit much. Was I supposed to figure out that he would disappear into furniture because he enjoyed taking splinters out of his mom's fingers? Too odd for me.
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ellink | 273 other reviews | Jan 22, 2024 |
No closure. This book gives you no closure.

But it does give you an experience. If you are willing to suspend your disbelief and your critical voice, if you are willing to jump in and take the ride, in return Aimee Bender gives you the experience of being the emotionally neglected child in a family of individuals too consumed with their own problems.

See, Rose has little interior emotional life she can tell the reader. She has little interior emotional life she can tell herself. And no one in her family is listening– much less knows how to teach her to navigate her own emotions. Or life, for that matter.

So when she starts being able to taste the feelings of those who make her food, whether her mom in the family kitchen or the individual in a far away factory, she's in real trouble. This skill/gift/talent/curse would be nearly unnavigable for a child in a supportive family; it would be confusing and overwhelming for an adult with some sense of self.

But for the younger child of a family who already has a child who has extra needs, and for parents who themselves cannot navigate their own lives separately or together, tasting the emotions of others in your food means you are utterly screwed.

It's not in a "Like Water for Chocolate" way: the romance of food, and the enjoyment of life even when it's horrible.

It's more in the line of my-food-is-trying-to-kill-me.

And following the story of what a person has to do to herself to survive under those circumstances isn't done with a narrator with a full, functional voice. It's done in the voice of someone who has hollowed herself out, stripped away parts of herself so she can perhaps survive. The amount of heartbreak in this book is not for the faint of heart: by the last few scenes I was sobbing so hard I thought I would throw up. A feel-good book this isn't; no redeeming Nick Hornby moments here. Bender has written in such a masterful way that she creates the hollowed-out, desperate, needy feelings in this reader as in her protagonist.

I was willing to take the ride: by the third or so chapter I recognized something true about it, as the younger child of an extra needs sibling. Once I waded into it, which was pretty slow going to be honest, I couldn't stop reading. I was drawn from chapter to chapter with Bender's promise of filling that hollowness or neediness with Something. Anything. Please! God! It reminded me of Wind-Up Bird Chronicles (Murakami) in this way, pulling me from chapter to chapter as I sought to resolve the same hollowness and confusion in me-as-reader as in the protagonist.

It's a promise she never fulfills and a hollowness never filled. It's never filled for Rose, either.
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deliriumshelves | 273 other reviews | Jan 14, 2024 |
I am trying to do the 2021 Popsugar Challenge this year. Or should I say I am trying to complete more than eight tasks that I did last year. I am happy to announce that I am halfway there and with this book, I have completed four tasks.
When I first started reading this book, I was intrigued by the concept. Rose, the main character, develops the ability to feel the emotions of the people who have cooked anything she eats. The book starts well as Rose begins to understand her "abilities" and is written in a way that seems realistic for a girl her age who cannot quite figure out what is going on. As the book progresses, Rose begins to identify upsetting information related to her mother. While all this is going on, her brother, who is described by the author as a bit of an oddball with no real explanation, also begins to act strangely. Then there is the backstory of Rose's distant relationship with her father, which climaxes with a story about his own family that relates to Rose's own powers. The problem I had is that there was a lot of emotion in the food and it was described beautifully, but none of it played out successfully within the family. It was just sort of left hanging. Additionally, the story with the brother and his own "gifts" was almost overload, nor was it well explained. The ending felt very rushed to me, as if the author had some great ideas, lumped them all in one book. I wish some details were better explained even if that means the book would have been a bit longer. This is my first book by Aimee Bender and also my first 3-star read this year. While I gave it a lower rating than you might expect I will be interested to read something new by the author if something becomes available soon.
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b00kdarling87 | 273 other reviews | Jan 7, 2024 |

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