Friday, March 21, 2008

50BC08:#5 The Girl in the Flammable Skirt

50 Book Challenge #5:
BOOK: The Girl in the Flammable Skirt
AUTHOR: Aimee Bender
PAGES: 184 (Anchor Books, 1999)
GENRE: short stories, contemporary fiction
RATED: 3.5 /5 stars

Having read and enjoyed Bender's Willful Creatures I was surprised at how few of these stories resonated for me. Bender is a master of the quirky, but many of these stories seemed so esoteric that the witty commentary was lost along the way. I felt they were sexually saturated almost to the point of obsession (in many cases), but I'm also open to the idea that it was part of the point.

All that said, there were several stories I did enjoy, including the majority of the offerings in Part Three. The poignancy in "Skinless" (Part One), "The Healer" and "Loser" (both in Part Three) touched me deeply, particularly in the case of "Loser." Bender investigates what it means to be "lost" and indeed, "found." Her protagonist has the ironic gift to find what others have lost and the end of the story made my eyes glisten.

"Drunken Mimi" (Part Two) is a clever mixing of fantasy and realism wherein two outcasts find each other through a world that has long rejected impishness and magic.

I do think that Bender's work speaks differently to the reader depending on his/her frame of mind, place in life, etc. This is a positive, as there will be a story for everyone in this collection. I'll be interested to re-read these stories several years from now and see if they speak any differently to me. For indeed, Bender does have a gift for stories that speak.

No comments: