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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 grotesue beautiful glory Bender's prose is glorious musical and collouial 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 uestion Can she still love a man who has no lips?ContentsThe rememberer Call my name What you left in the ditch The bowl Marzipan uiet please Skinless Fugue Drunken Mimi Fell this girl The healer Loser Legacy Dreaming in Polish The ring The girl in the flamable skirt


10 thoughts on “The Girl in the Flammable Skirt Stories

  1. says:

    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 disappointmentSure 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 jewelryOther 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 Máruez the magical or irreal has proven an effective way of looking at ourselves Unfortunately in this collection the techniue seems to be of a flashy ends in itself rather than a device that lends substance and meaning


  2. says:

    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 uick cliche judgment of the book binding's face The cover looks hmm what's the word twee Cutesy uirky 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 uirky 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 grotesue 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 descriptionIt'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 sueeze 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


  3. says:

    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 imaginationTake a look at the first lines from some of her strange tales Steven returned from the war without lipsOne week after his father died my father woke up with a hole in his stomachThere was an imp who went to high school with stilts on so that no one would know he was an impThere were two mutant girls in the town one had a hand made of fire and the other had a hand made of iceThe hunchback took in the pregnant girl to hide her from high school until the baby popped outWell okaymaybe Aimee WAS once cared for by a hunchback but the rest of that stuff ZOWIE pure imaginationHer 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


  4. says:

    How funny that I should have just read the essay A Reader's Manifesto by B R Myers when I picked up this book In the essay available at for now Myers skewers various superstars of literary fiction Cormac McCarthy Rick Moody David Guterson and others for turning out poorly written books that are all flash and no substance The brilliantly bizarre set pieces here unfortunately suffer from the same problem Bender is all about the good sentences without much thought given to making sense Its the kind of writing critics describe as scintillating or virtuosic It sounds great but then you realize that it doesn't really mean anythingOpening at random I findHad the imp lifted the can he would have been stunned it was so light Where did the beer go? Had he looked closer he might've seen it riding up the strands of her hair brown droplets on a lime escalator sucked up by that straw of a lock foam vanishing into the mane in front of him the mane he pictured at night floating over his small shoulders when he was in his bed naked eyes closedDear lord The inner voice with exclamation point The droplets on an escalator ? which is also a straw which is also apparently part of a horse And none of this actually happened anyway since he didn't actually lift the can interior exclamation notwithstanding or look at the hair after all had he If you read this uickly it seems to sparkle but a closer read reveals that it's just nonsense There's nothing wring with wordplay but a good author can both make a sentence shine and make it worth writing in the first place


  5. says:

    Aimee Bender's debut collection of stories is comprised of the sort of fiction which excels in theory but not in practice As advertised on the back cover these stories are supposed to be twisted unconventional and grotesue but are they?The first story in The Girl in the Flammable Skirt The Rememberer is the most successful it's about a woman whose partner is experiencing reverse evolution From a man he slowly morphs first into an ape and then into another lower form of life a sea turtle ultimately to end up as a microbe His wife realizes that she cannot stop the process and that he'll soon be completely gone and tries to hold on to the only thing she'll have left memories Despite the absurdity of the premise Bender's short just a few pages long story is a poignant piece which just works we connect with the woman and understand her grief as her husband's slowly turning into a salamanderNot much else in the collection impressed me The stories were full of weird and uncanny concepts set for the sake of an epiphany which never arrived; Richard Brautigan wrote the exact same sort of fiction in the 60's which is largely forgotten today for a reason Brautigan's absurd moments were pretty much a product of their time a drug fueled decade of love and hippie music a time when things he wrote about probably made sense to at least some people But if Brautigan was a product of his time what does it make Aimee Bender? I'd like to think that it makes her an author who in this debut has yet to find a way on how to invent a fantastic and outrageous premise and write an actual story with real people that readers can care about and relate to just like Karen Russel does so brilliantly Since this collection was published 16 years ago there's a real chance that she did exactly that and I'd report to you with the answer when I'd read her other work


  6. says:

    Short stories aren't really my thing I also kind of felt these were lacking in substance a bit and felt weird for the sake of it


  7. says:

    All's I am saying is if you do not love Aimee Bender yet get this book read Skinless Fell This Girl The Healer and The Ring If you still don't love her after that I'm not really sure we can be friends any


  8. says:

    Have I mentioned that I love Aimee Bender yet? I wonder If I start experimenting with drugs would I be able to come up with this sort of writing? That would be great Pity I can't afford drugs Silly drugs I mean of course Like mushrooms or whatever it is that makes things look a little brighter and sparklier I'm giving this book a 5 because I think that being the type of person who writes these sort of weird and confusing for most people stories is kind of important Year ago when I read The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake I did not love it as I expected to because I hadn't been expecting magical realism I knew little of the genre back then and I was almost frightened by the darkness of it I have kind of evolved since then and am honestly kind of writing in that direction myself now I have become open to obscure voices sharing beautiful content I am so grateful to be meeting these voices They are growing me Even when I don't like them they are growing me I have learned to set aside expectations and receive what I am given instead of bemoaning what I have not I cannot help now but envy Ms Bender How free she is in spirit How unconventionally wise How odd How exuisite How real I should read Lemon Cake with my fresher eyes now Soon


  9. says:

    35 Imaginative Heavy on personification Preferred the stories in the first section over the latter two state of mind stories


  10. says:

    i've read aimee bender stories before but never a whole book at once i think to be honest i like them better spaced out but that's my fault i suppose and not hers not like she's got a gun to my headanyway bender writes short perfectly structured surreal first person stories well mostly first person sometimes third there's a story about a man who wakes up with a hole going directly through his stomach and then his wife becomes pregnant and gives birth to her own mother but it's first person from the pov of his daughter there's a story about two girls in a small town one with a hand of ice and the other with a hand of fire but it's told from the pov of a third girl who desperately wants a friend and envies their oppositional bond so there's always this further psychological spin on the surreal events detailed they tend to have a kind of vertiginous effect because literally anything can happen at any given moment and usually does she piles surreal complications one on top of another until the only thing linking us to any kind of reality is the voice of the narrator who is generally the kind of lost and pretty and proudly superficial girl you kinda wanna smack or maybe marry that just made it sound horrible i know and it isn't at all these stories are amazingly conceived and perfectly written and very very funny the only thing is when i get to the end of them all i feel is a little sad a little happy a little glad it's over it never really takes you THROUGH anything it's not a book you need tissues forit's a lot like Etgar Keret actually except american and female