The Girl In The Flammable Skirt: Stories by Aimee Bender

After finishing The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake, I was literally craving more Aimee Bender. I needed to have more of her work immediately. I really wanted to read another novel of hers, but luck would not allow that while perusing the shelves at the bookstores. But I did find a copy of The Girl In the Flammable Skirt, a collection of her short stories. While I can’t say that my relationship with this one was as good as my relationship with The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake, it wasn’t a complete train wreck either. We had our highs and our lows and ultimately in the end, we kissed and made up and got along pretty well. We agreed we’d see each other again in the future.

Mostly, Aimee Bender’s short stories are just freaking bizarre! And full of sex. If you don’t like sex, then just stay away from this one. Personally, I happen to like sex and it doesn’t bother me if it’s written in literature. But there were some stories in here where I just went on a complete whirlwind ride! I think I found my way through most of them, but it wasn’t always easy. It was always interesting though and I think I did really enjoy that.

The collection starts out with “The Rememberer” which I think was truly one of the strongest stories of the collection. It’s about a girl who awakes to find her boyfriend has turned into some sort of ape and by the end of the first paragraph he is a sea turtle. He’s going through some sort of reverse evolution. It’s actually quite a beautiful story as she grieves her loss of communication with him, goes through anger at what’s happening, confusion, and ultimately has to let him go. I really liked this one.

But we then go to a story called “Call My Name”. I’m not going to say that I didn’t like this story, because by the end of it, I think I really did. I think. You know, three days after finishing this book I’m still thinking about this story. It’s about a librarian who finds out that her father has died. After throwing up from shock of the news, she gets dressed for work and then proceeds to have sex with as many men as she can AT the library as a way of coping with her grief. There’s a song by Peaches called “Fuck the Pain Away” that comes to mind here. I don’t recommend downloading it if you’re at work or around children :p It’s very crass.

I was just about to say that the rest of the stories are just all about sex, but then I went and read the next story again just now and you know…maybe I just need to read this one again. Because it’s really a lot more than that. The next story is called “What You Left in the War”. And yes…there is a woman who dreams of having an affair in this story too, but the reason behind it is what this story is about. Her husband has returned from war with no lips. They were blown away in a bomb explosion and she’s disgusted by it at first. She finds a man at the grocery store that she dreams of being with..lips that she can kiss. I think that’s really such a brutally honest story when it comes down to it.

I certainly don’t mean to say that this book is JUST about sex…it’s not. But she often uses the body and it’s connection with others as her main means of communication or as a story telling device. Something I guess I just didn’t expect after The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake. And that’s not a bad thing. Written correctly, I think that can be a great thing. And she pulls it off here in the end I think. I think these are stories that just need to play around in the mind for a few days. And they’ll do that without you even meaning them to. I’m still thinking these over…

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6 Responses

  1. You know, I’m already looking forward to asking you in a month or so how you feel about this book. It really sounds like these are stories that need time to sink in completely. I have to admit that you have definitely left me intrigued! But I still think I’ll start with Lemon Cake.

  2. Yeah I think I’ll have to avoid this one…I already have issues with short story collections. I doubt I’d make it through.

  3. Whoa this does sound like a bizarre collection! Perhaps I must read the other one you liked, The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake.

  4. Debi, Very good idea! I’d love to know how I feel about this one myself in a month actually! They really do need some time to sink in. I found myself liking them even more after just letting them sink in a few days. But yeah, definitely start with Lemon Cake! That’s a fantastic book!!

    Amanda, Yeah, I don’t think you’d be a big fan of this one with the vomiting and gratuitous sex :p Just doesn’t sound like your cup of tea :p

    Birdy, It is quite bizarre, but it was very interesting!! The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake I can wholeheartedly recommend!! Awesome book there!

  5. LOL. My favorite line in your review: I like sex (so taken out of context but I literally did laugh while drinking my morning coffee). I have not read the Lemon Cake book because it seemed to receive so much attention (I stay away from most hyped books) but maybe I’ll check out her work.

    Happy Tuesday!

  6. >>If you don’t like sex, then just stay away from this one. Personally, I happen to like sex and it doesn’t bother me if it’s written in literature.

    LMAO I almost spat my tea out on my keyboard.

    You know, I read this collection years ago (Bender came to speak at my college), and I barely remember anything about it! But I think I still have it around here somewhere, and now I kind of want to dig it up so I can check out these scenes you’re talking about.

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