The Girl in the Flammable Skirt by Aimee Bender

The Girl in the Flammable Skirt by Aimee Bender

I went into reading this book without much premise on what it’s about. I received it as a part of my Capsule Books box hoping to read something that will nestle me into my chair and take me on a grand adventure. Instead, I read a collection of short stories that all shared one strange element or another, but ultimately played into the idea of loving someone for who they are. Let’s get right into it.

Here’s some more about the collection

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 question: Can she still love a man who has no lips?

Aimee Bender’s stories portray a world twisted on its axis, a place of unconvention that resembles nothing so much as real life, in all its grotesque, beautiful glory. From the first line of each tale she lets us know she is telling a story, but the moral is never quite what we expect. Bender’s prose is glorious: musical and colloquial, inimitable and heartrending.

Here are stories of men and women whose lives are shaped–and sometimes twisted–by the power of extraordinary desires, erotic and otherwise. The Girl in the Flammable Skirt is the debut of a major American writer. 

The book starts with the story about a woman who’s lover is devolving. You think that this was some sort of Benjamin Button thing, but what you’re seeing is a man who is now an ape and progressing back towards that single-celled organism everyone says we’re evolved from. While you’re reading this woman trying to cope with a man who is an ape, you also hear about her struggle to love someone like this. What do you do when something unfortunate happens to your lover? I’m pretty sure you would understand the character’s POV in this case.

This is what you come across while reading The Girl in the Flammable Skirt; stories that don’t quite make sense but deep down you understand where the characters are coming from. It was like reading Murakami with a little performance by Miranda July with the voice of Ernest Hemingway.

And this is the central theme of all the stories you read here. Each one has some quirk about it. It can be about a woman trying to fall back in love with her husband after he returns from war without his lips. It could be a story about a man who develops a hole in his torso. It could be the woman who falls in love with a thief and steals a ruby ring that turns the ocean red. These quirks are little, but remind me so strongly of Murakami; the magical realism of something so inane yet so impactful on the characters’ lives. It’s almost inconsequential how it shows up, but it impacts them the most throughout the story.

But overall, I wasn’t that big of a fan of this story. It was fun and interesting to see the different ways these characters confront certain situations, but I kind of shrug my shoulders at this. It was a fun read, but not one of my top favorites and kind of meh. I wish I was so enamored by it, but perhaps I’m the wrong person to read this. I’ve been reading magical realism for a while and this book was written in the 90s probably during a time when this kind of writing was considered more poetic than anything else. Perhaps you’ll like it. I’m not sure, but for me it was okay. Good stories. Good times. Like the roar of a fireplace; warm, relaxing, and ultimately extinguishable.

Simone and Her Books is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. This in no way affects my opinion of the above book.

Capsule Books Unboxing

Capsule Books Unboxing

This is my first time unboxing a Capsule Books box. I thought the idea was quite an interesting one and I definitely wanted to get my hands on one to see what it’s all about.

Capsule Book boxes take on reading in a different way. Instead of thinking of themes between books, you can pick your box by feelings. For the winter, the choices are Roar of the Fireplace, Alone at a Party, and Frozen Over.

I chose Roar of the Fireplace, because it’s the feeling of sitting at home with a big glass of wine and thinking about all those little things you might have messed up. It felt like this was right up my alley in terms of lifestyle. I love ruining a cozy moment with my crazy brain. You can read more about that box here.

Each box comes with three books, a little note going deeper into your box choice, and a few little extras. For this box, I also received a little bookmark as well. The box also includes a pre-stamped envelope for you to send the news about Capsule Books to a friend. It’s not even just a postcard, but a little notecard in a kraft envelope. So cute!

Here’s a little bit more on the books I received in my box:

The Girl in the Flammable Skirt by Aimee Bender

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 question: Can she still love a man who has no lips?

Aimee Bender’s stories portray a world twisted on its axis, a place of unconvention that resembles nothing so much as real life, in all its grotesque, beautiful glory. From the first line of each tale she lets us know she is telling a story, but the moral is never quite what we expect. Bender’s prose is glorious: musical and colloquial, inimitable and heartrending.

Here are stories of men and women whose lives are shaped–and sometimes twisted–by the power of extraordinary desires, erotic and otherwise. The Girl in the Flammable Skirt is the debut of a major American writer.

SPHINX by Anne Garreta

Sphinx is the remarkable debut novel, originally published in 1986, by the incredibly talented and inventive French author Anne Garréta, one of the few female members of Oulipo, the influential and exclusive French experimental literary group whose mission is to create literature based on mathematical and linguistic restraints, and whose ranks include Georges Perec and Italo Calvino, among others.

A beautiful and complex love story between two characters, the narrator, “I,” and their lover, A***, written without using any gender markers to refer to the main characters, Sphinx is a remarkable linguistic feat and paragon of experimental literature that has never been accomplished before or since in the strictly-gendered French language.

Sphinx is a landmark text in the feminist and LGBT literary canon appearing in English for the first time.

The Universe of Us by Lang Leav

Lang Leav presents a completely new collection of poetry with a celestial theme in The Universe of Us.

Planets, stars, and constellations feature prominently in this beautiful, original poetry collection from Lang Leav.  Inspired by the wonders of the universe, the best-selling poetess writes about love and loss, hope and hurt, being lost and found.  Lang’s poetry encompasses the breadth of emotions we all experience and evokes universal feelings with her skillfully crafted words.

So far, I’ve only read The Girl in the Flammable Skirt by Aimee Bender and I’m already blown away by how awesome this box is. This book, one of which I’ve never heard of in my life, is able to better encapsulate the feeling of being inadequate and insecure with yourself while trying to love someone else. It’s an incredible collection of short stories and I can’t wait to get into the two others. I’ll be sharing what those are below.

With these boxes, you only get three books every season, so it’s not too much of a burden on your TBR if you have a lot of  books to read. Also, you can take 15% off your first box  by using SIMONE15 at checkout.

Simone and Her Books is affiliated with Capsule Book boxes. This is an advertisement post, but the opinions and reviews of these books are completely honest and my own thoughts. Capsule Books doesn’t have any influence on the posts written about it.