Willful Creatures by Aimee Bender

58 in my 2011 book blogging challenge.

I heart Aimee Bender. Willful Creatures is a short story collection that can only be described as bizarre. If you are a connoisseur of the bizarre, you really must read this. These stories are little fables, little prose lyrics, little containers of stark and profound absurdism.

I loved them. I loved every one of them. I loved the one about the pumpkinhead couple that had an ironhead child. I loved the one about the boy with keys for fingers. I loved the one about the man who kept a little man in a cage and the one about a woman who stole all of the coats at a party. I also loved the one about the couple who gave each other salt and pepper shakes for their anniversary every year for the first fourteen years of their marriage only to end up murdering each other more than decade after they no longer felt they went together like salt and pepper.

These are crazy, crazy little fables, and they are wonderful. They are beautifully told. They are often very dark, but they are also very interesting. I left each story feeling like I was supposed to have gleaned some profound message from the absurdity. Half the time I had no idea what that message was, but I didn’t care. I could feel it under the surface of the narrative even if I couldn’t immediately articulate it.

Aimee Bender is the author of The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake, which I also loved. This is the second of her books I’ve read, and I’m feeling like I can’t get enough. She has one more collection of short stories and one more novel that I have not read. I can’t wait. If you are in need a new favorite surrealist, Aimee Bender is your girl.

1 thought on “Willful Creatures by Aimee Bender”

  • ‘Fruit and Words’…very provocative in a disturbing kind of way. I like them all and even made an attempt at writing a play adaptation of ‘Job’s Jobs’. I’m sure it’s pathetic but fun, nonetheless. After perusing reader reviews, it’s obvious Bender is not for everyone but I like the quirky, unpredictable nature of her work.

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