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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Famous author Aimee Bender to recite at UA

    When author Aimee Bender wakes up in the morning, the first thing she does is write for twohours straight. Her routine has lasted 12 years.

    Bender’s discipline shows she has a passion for language and a creative mind, which she shares with the world through her strange characters and inventive stories.

    Her characters usually have either physical oddities or bizarre thoughts and dreams. Although the stories’ premises at first seem normal, they have twists.

    For example, one of the stories in her book “”Willful Creatures”” is about a man who goes to the store and buys a little man as a pet. Bender writes, “”The little man was expensive but the big man had a reliable job and thought this a worthy purchase. He brought the cage up to the front, paid with his credit card, and got some free airline points.””

    Buying a little man as a pet? Normal but yet strange. The story then reveals how the little man is abused by the normal-sized man.

    In another story, a boy is born with key-shaped fingers and desires to “”unlock”” his father’s war stories. A different tale is about a couple with pumpkin heads whose iron-headed child dies because of the weight of the iron.

    She writes in the style of magical realism, which is the use of magical elements in realistic settings. Bender said her unconscious thoughts and memories inspire her stories.

    “”Every experience goes into the unconscious,”” Bender said. “”What comes out on page is something I’m trying to figure out in some way. I love words and storytelling, and I love using that medium to grapple with things.””

    Bender’s influences include French surrealists as well as Italo Calvino, an Italian author, who has written such works as “”Italian Folktales,”” a Brothers Grimm-like collection of Italian fairytales. Many of Bender’s short stories read like adult fairy tales.

    “”Most American literature is realistic and obeys the rules of the physical world,”” Bender said. “”An American version of that would be sticking to the world we live in, but letting things happen that are a little peculiar. A lot of the stories are like that.””

    Her first book “”The Girl in the Flammable Skirt,”” a collection of short stories, won the 1998 New York Times Notable Book of the Year award.

    Her novel “”An Invisible Sign of My Own”” was selected by the Los Angeles Times as one of the best books of 2000.

    Beyond writing books, Bender teaches creative writing at the University of Southern California. She attended University of California Irvine in 1995 to get a masters degree in creating writing.

    “”I kind of started to take it serious then,”” Bender said. “”I started writing every day on a schedule. I knew that I loved writing and wanted to see what happened. Spending a couple of years around writers seemed like an experience I wanted, whether or not I got publication.””

    Bender use strict metaphors in her writing, she said.

    “”People can interpret it in various ways,”” Bender said. “”I think that’s what happens. Inevitably there’s a lot of room for interpretations – there’s enough space so different readers can grapple with it in different ways.””

    Bender will give a reading tonight at the Modern Languages Auditorium at 8 p.m. The reading is presented by the UA Prose Series, College of Humanities and department of English. Admission is free and open to the public.

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