Saturday, October 30, 2010


I've been on a huge Aimee Bender binge lately, I re-read The Girl in the Flammable Skirt, An Invisible Sign of My Own and her latest collection of stories Willful Creatures. Bender's use of surrealism is incredible though I'm starting to wonder if too much surrealism is a healthy thing.
I find myself looking at certain every day objects in ways that are just not sane.  I worry that I will never again be able to peel, cut or eat potatoes ever again.  I find myself looking for miniature people in miniature cars, afraid that I might not see them if they are there and will step on them.    

Then there was one story in particular that literally made me weep, about a boy born with an iron (yes an iron that one uses to press/iron clothing) for a head, well that and he was born to parents who had pumpkins for heads.  What I love about Bender’s writing is that you actually believe that these things could happen the way she writes them.  I fully believed that this family could be like this and that those around them seemed to generally accept them for who they were (other than a general teasing that anyone could experience).  I read Ironhead a second time to see if I could figure out why this story affected me so deeply and couldn’t see it.  I’m sure some day it will occur to me why I related so strongly to this story and it will probably hit me like an iron over the head.


suffragette said...

I think the way you look at things is a rare gift - and it delights and at times, disturbs, but always interests! I think it's fascinating. The ironhead story reminded me of an old Daphne du Maurier story about a woman whose head is a deer head. I can't remember the name of it but I think it was in the 'Don't Look Now & Other Short Stories' collection. Do you know it? I'll have to check out Aimee Bender.

vivienne strauss said...

Thank you for such a nice comment! I must find that du Maurier story for sure!

James said...

I found this post through you, I often find myself incredibly touched by Bender's short stories, even though they seem as if they should just be ridiculous. "Ironhead" is a terribly beautiful story, and your collage is a wonderful extension of its mood.

My favorite Bender story is "Dearth" (a woman finds herself with four potatoes for children? It inexplicably made me cry).

vivienne strauss said...

Thank you for commenting, James! I agree, Dearth was incredible. I am still having a hard time preparing and eating potatoes without thinking of that story.

yasmin said...

Great review of Willful Creatures. I think the very first story, about the pet man, is the one that got to me most.