Willful Creatures

Willful Creatures

Stories

Book - 2006/08/08
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A collection of all original stories presents tales of love, heartbreak, sex, adversity, and potato babies.
Publisher: New York : Anchor Books, 2006/08/08
Edition: 1st Anchor Books ed
ISBN: 9780385720977
0385720971
Branch Call Number: FICTION BENDER
Characteristics: 208 p. ; 21 cm

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ksoles Jun 30, 2012

"Willful Creatures" adopts the tone of fairytales through the straightforward storytelling of the bizarre. But in place of magic apples and wicked stepmothers, Aimee Bender gives us potato children, a captive miniature man and a boy with key-shaped fingers. These willful creatures take over and change the lives of those who discover them while appearing, at least superficially, as ordinary people living routine lives.

In one tale, a big man buys a little man from a pet shop, keeps him in a cage with a television and sofa and commits unspeakable cruelties. Another begins inanely - "The woman he met. He met a woman. This woman was the woman he met" - but develops the theme of ruined expectations and how they can evolve, without warning, into powerful emotions. Later, a crime investigator, becomes less concerned with how a husband and wife killed each other at the same moment than with the mysterious collection of fourteen salt and pepper shakers he finds in their house.

Bender's inventive plots and no-nonsense language result in swiftly told stories. To the author, contemporary life seems as mysterious as words made of xenon, and yet she manages to give us glimpses of raw emotional truth. Such unconventional fiction might turn off realists and literalists but those willing to accept a stark, matter-of-fact surrealism will find enchantment in this collection.

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