Prime The Girl in the Flammable Skirt: Stories –

Bold, Sexy, And Daring, These Stories Portray A World Twisted On Its Axis, An Unconventional Place That Resembles Nothing So Much As Real Life, In All Its Grotesque, Beautiful Glory Bender S Prose Is Glorious, Musical, And Colloquial, An Anthology Of The Bizarre In The Rememberer , A Man Undergoes Reverse Evolution From Man To Ape To Salamander At Which Point A Friend Releases Him Into The Sea, While In Another Story A Woman Gives Birth To Her Mother A Grief Stricken Librarian Decides To Have Sex With Every Man Who Enters Her Library A Half Mad, Unbearably Beautiful Heiress Follows A Strange Man Home, Seeking Total Sexual Abandon He Only Wants To Watch Game Shows A Woman Falls In Love With A Hunchback When His Deformity Turns Out To Be A Prosthesis, She Leaves Him A Wife Whose Husband Has Just Returned From The War Struggles With The Heartrending Question Can She Still Love A Man Who Has No Lips Contents The Rememberer Call My Name What You Left In The Ditch The Bowl Marzipan Quiet Please Skinless Fugue Drunken Mimi Fell This Girl The Healer Loser Legacy Dreaming In Polish The Ring The Girl In The Flamable Skirt There s no doubt that Aimee Bender has a vivid imagination and a penchant for the strange Unfortunately, for me that is simply not enough to make for a memorable, satisfying read I came away from this collection with an overwhelming feeling of disappointment.Sure, the writing is fine and it even sparkles on occasion There are enough strange things happening to catch anyone s interest, at least momentarily The problem is a lack of depth Every single story felt superficial to me, as if it was all about artifice and creating the most unusual situations possible, rather than developing characters I could care about Try as I might, I could find no sense of connection to the woman whose lover de evolves, the girls with hands of ice and fire, or the robber and his girlfriend who have an appetite for sugar and jewelry.Other writers have covered this territory before the land of the surreal, the strange and unreal as a mirror to our own lives From writers as diverse as Franz Kafka to Ray Bradbury to Gabriel Garcia M rquez, the magical or irreal has proven an effective way of looking at ourselves Unfortunately, in this collection, the technique seems to be of a flashy ends in itself rather than a device that lends substance and meaning. This book is a perfect example of how judging a book by its cover can be problematic Had I never gathered non cover related compelling reasons that I might like this book I may ve never picked it up, based on that quick, cliche judgment of the book binding s face The cover looks, hmm, what s the word, twee Cutesy Quirky Etc Not exactly the kind of thing I like to read But its contents, while being whimsical to some degree, are much richly textured with moods than mere variations of quirky cutesy whimsy I recently described another five star short story collection as being like, Aimee Bender s wrist slashing bedroom sulking little sister, despite the fact that, Aimee Bender, while able to dabble with the grotesque via misleadingly sunny build ups, doesn t take it to the same heights many of the stories in this collection do Now, it would be helpful if people had read the book I was comparing this one to, but since I only know of a very small number of people that ve read Unclean Jobs For Women and Girls I ll have to try to give a better description.It s been long enough between reading this and now that I can t conjure up many super specific rehashings of the book Regardless, I can still recall what it was that I loved about it in general The stories, much like many in Ryan Boudinot s Littlest Hitler, spin yarns centered around the fantastical and the bizarre but with a straight face This is a basic approach to books and film that I love and Ms Bender pulls it off with a deliciously elegant precision that I find pleasurably enviable as someone who tends to veer into the overly elaborate when writing She homes in on that bulls eye of brevity wit in a seemingly effortless manner the arrow plucked and secured, the bow drawn, aimed and triggered all in one graceful, fluid motion These couple of bites sized tales tickle the imagination sectors of the brain into lighting up the fMRI read, massage the abdominals with laughter, and gently squeeze the heart at just the right moments A lovely experience, which momentarily pulled me out of the darkened hallway I was sitting in at the time overnight shift at a treatment center for juvenile sex offenders as well as the black hole my head felt like then, for reasons too personal and too raw and probably too boring to elaborate on Thanks for that, Aimee. How many times has this happened to you You re reading a novel about a single mother struggling to raise two kids in a backwoods town in Kentucky and you flip to the author info on the dust jacketonly to discover that the writer is a single mother raising two kids in a small town in Kentucky, and you say to yourself or the person trying to sleep next to you , HOW IS THIS EVEN FICTION Well, that won t happen when you re reading THIS book Unless Ms Bender is the weirdest person who ever lived, these stories are NOT lifted from her own life experience, but are born, instead, from a delightfully twisted imagination.Take a look at the first lines from some of her strange talesSteven returned from the war without lips One week after his father died, my father woke up with a hole in his stomach There was an imp who went to high school with stilts on so that no one would know he was an imp There were two mutant girls in the town one had a hand made of fire and the other had a hand made of ice The hunchback took in the pregnant girl to hide her from high school until the baby popped out.Well, okaymaybe Aimee WAS once cared for by a hunchback, but the rest of that stuff ZOWIE pure imagination Her work is sad and sweet and charming and delightful and purely FICTITIOUS I LOVE IT And if you re sick of fiction that seems a bit too much like real life, you might LOVE IT, too.