Thursday, March 30, 2006

29. "The Girl in the Flammable Skirt" ~ Aimee Bender

Aimee Bender's 1998 debut of short stories shook up the literary world. Who can write about mermaids and imps, hunchbacks and ogres? Obviously, she can, and she does it with such a meticulous account of detail and perfectly honed dialogue that I still laugh out loud (three readings later).

She breaks the book into three separate parts, which I like to call Sex, Death, and Myth. The sections do not follow this exactly, but it does apply as overall themes. In "Fell This Girl," the narrator wants to fuck a girl's belly button, but it isn't until a page later that we recognize that the narrator is a woman. This story, along with "Quiet Please" and others, can be interpreted as statements on women's social status today. Or, they can simply be enjoyed.

My favorite stories involve mythology, like "Marzipan," where the father's father dies, leaving a physical hole in his stomach. This outward stigmata of inner demons is beautifully written. Whether finned, hunchbacked, or fiery-handed, the characters show their scars.

4.0 out of 5.0 Black Magics.

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