Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Aimee Bender

Aimee Bender is the author of four books: The Girl in the Flammable Skirt (1998) which was a New York Times Notable Book, An Invisible Sign of My Own (2000) which was a Los Angeles Times pick of the year, Willful Creatures (2005) which was nominated by The Believer as one of the best books of the year, and the newly released The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake (2010).

From her interview at The Rumpus:

Rumpus: You frequently write from the perspective of kids or teenagers, which is interesting because these voices are often absent from literary fiction. What do you love about young narrators? Is there something about this perspective that allows you to do things you can’t do with an adult narrator?

Bender: I know, a lot of people really don’t care for younger narrators but I’ve never understood that; as a reader, I really like a kid’s POV and when writers really submerge themselves in that limitation, often there are such rewards. I just reread The Sound and the Fury, (which was kind of like reading it for the first time since it was a high school assignment years ago and I think I took in about two pages of the whole) and the Benji passages are so amazing to read, really stunning, because of how deeply Faulkner is able to skip over the ways we see the world and show a new view. How light looks, how flowers look. He’s not a kid, but he’s also a kid. I love Cruddy, Lynda Barry’s fantastic novel, because of how she nails a teenager’s voice, and it’s true in her comics as well. She rearranges sentence order in such a totally pleasing way. Also I really like listening to how kids speak in general, so when a writer can capture a young voice realistically, I appreciate being reminded of those voices.

Rumpus: In your writing, you often juxtapose disparate elements, like a humorous tone with sad content, or magical elements with realistic situations. This adds a lot of depth to your work, and I’ve always felt that it makes your writing feel very unexpected. How do these elements come together for you?

Bender: Thanks! You know, it’s not really planned, but I think juxtaposition in general can be...[read on]
Visit Aimee Bender's website.

The Page 99 Test: Willful Creatures.

Writers Read: Aimee Bender.

--Marshal Zeringue