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Das Mädchen, das Feuer...
Aimee Bender
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Das Mädchen, das Feuer fing : Roman

3.93 of 5 stars 3.93  ·  rating details  ·  4,815 ratings  ·  518 reviews
In conventional fiction, war heroes return home minus an arm or a leg--or, to take Hemingway's worst-case scenario, the family jewels. In Aimee Bender's deeply unconventional collection, however, an even more suggestive body part goes AWOL: "Steve returned from the war without his lips." The army doctors have temporarily replaced them with a plastic disc, which impairs his...more
Published (first published July 13th 1998)
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Joshua Nomen-Mutatio
This book is a perfect example of how judging a book by its cover can be problematic. Had I never gathered non-cover-related compelling reasons that I might like this book I may've never picked it up, based on that quick, cliche judgment of the book binding's face. The cover looks, hmm, what's the word, twee. Cutesy. Quirky. Etc. Not exactly the kind of thing I like to read. But its contents, while being whimsical to some degree, are much more richly textured with moods than mere variations of q...more
There's no doubt that Aimee Bender has a vivid imagination and a penchant for the strange. Unfortunately, for me that is simply not enough to make for a memorable, satisfying read. I came away from this collection with an overwhelming feeling of disappointment.

Sure, the writing is fine and it even sparkles on occasion. There are enough strange things happening to catch anyone's interest, at least momentarily. The problem is a lack of depth. Every single story felt superficial to me, as if it was...more
How many times has this happened to you?

You're reading a novel about a single mother struggling to raise two kids in a backwoods town in Kentucky and you flip to the author info on the dust jacket...only to discover that the writer is a single mother raising two kids in a small town in Kentucky, and you say to yourself (or the person trying to sleep next to you), "HOW IS THIS EVEN FICTION?"

Well, that won't happen when you're reading THIS book. Unless Ms. Bender is the weirdest person who ever li...more
How funny that I should have just read the essay "A Reader's Manifesto", by B. R. Myers, when I picked up this book. In the essay (available at for now) Myers skewers various superstars of "literary fiction"--Cormac McCarthy, Rick Moody, David Guterson, and others--for turning out poorly-written books that are all flash and no substance. The brilliantly bizarre set pieces here, unfortunately, suffer from the same problem. Bender is all about the good sent...more
Aimee Bender's debut collection of stories is comprised of the sort of fiction which excels in theory, but not in practice. As advertised on the back cover, these stories are supposed to be twisted, unconventional and grotesque - but are they?

The first story in The Girl in the Flammable Skirt, The Rememberer, is the most successful: it's about a woman whose partner is experiencing reverse evolution. From a man he slowly morphs first into an ape, and then into another lower form of life, a sea tu...more
Jeniffer Almonte
"The Girl in the Flammable Skirt" is Aimee Benders highly (highly) whimsical collection of short stories. In one of Aimee's stories a man evolves backwards until he becomes a fish. In another a man wakes up to find his stomach is missing and instead there is huge hole in the middle of his torso. Meanwhile that man's wife becomes pregnant and gives birth to... well, I won't say because it's a spoiler. But let's just say what she gives birth to isn't a baby.

And so on and so forth. Every story has...more
All's I am saying is, if you do not love Aimee Bender yet, get this book, read Skinless, Fell This Girl, The Healer, and The Ring. If you still don't love her after that, I'm not really sure we can be friends anymore.
L'autrice pubblica questa raccolta all'età di ventinove anni.
Vederla seduta nell'auditorium al Festivalletteratura di Mantova sembra che il tempo per lei si sia fermato. Oggi ne ha quarantatre.

E' una Signora -inizialmente l'avevo presa per una ragazzina- dal viso aperto, allegra, serena e si direbbe del nostro sud e invece l'accento tradisce la sua provenienza californiana. Ma sempre di sud si tratta.
Gesticola, sorride. Alla domanda: "Ma a lei come vengono in mente le situazioni dei suoi racc...more
Introduced to Aimee Bender by "This American Life". Master of intriguing short stories that connect the reader to the characters. I feel the need to read all of Aimee's stuff just to make sure I am not missing some sort of amazing feeling I have not felt before.

The nameless "finding guy" made me cry:

"He lay in bed that night with the trees from other places rustling, and he could feel their confusion. No snow here. Not a lot of rain. Where am I? What is wrong with this dirt? Crossing his hands...more
Jun 22, 2008 Yulia marked it as left-unfinished  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Yulia by: Konstantin Steshenko
Shelves: short-stories
It was suggested she was a female Etgar Keret, but Keret is far more artful and thoughtful in his shorts. Whereas I have the sense he's a melancholy and thoughtful man who hides his sensitivity with a cuddly veneer, I feel Bender is a Keret-wannabe who hides her lack of insight and wisdom with her cute, "imaginative" story lines.
This is the first book in a while which I've actually felt some hatred towards. I began to cringe every time I picked it up, but I hate to not finish a book (especially one this small; surely I can power through it I kept telling myself). So thank god that's done. Several of the stories had pretty much the exact same type of female protagonist - vain, superficial, vapid, and horny. It started to bother me that I was essentially reading about the same stupid bitch in completely different plot lin...more
Ben Loory
i've read aimee bender stories before but never a whole book at once. i think to be honest i like them better spaced out. but that's my fault, i suppose, and not hers. not like she's got a gun to my head.

anyway, bender writes short, perfectly structured surreal first-person stories. well, mostly first person. sometimes third. there's a story about a man who wakes up with a hole going directly through his stomach, and then his wife becomes pregnant and gives birth to her own mother. but it's firs...more
This book has a whole bunch of filler. I am sorta baffled how such filler... okay, "stories", ever made it to print. That being said, there are a few enjoyable reads in here as well. Thus, the two star rating on Goodreads which apparently = "It was OK" is how I mostly feel about this collection.

Aimee Bender likes the gimmick. Most of the stories in this collection revolve around one surreal characteristic or occurrence that could never exist in the real world and attempts to build a story around...more
I really wanted to love this book, but it just didn't happen for me. Andrea was right--these stories read great out loud, in a performative medium, but on the page, there's not much happening. Each story contains so much whimsy, coupled with such simple, economic language, that the stories come off as mere fairy tales rather than moving stories. And by the end, I was kind of sick of the whimsical stuff, the imps and fire and deformed individuals of sideshow nature.
Bender's images, however, are...more
Morgan Renae
Ohhh now this was so perfectly ridiculous and surprising and hilarious and exhilarating and melancholy. I loved every story, and that's such a rarity when it comes to short story collections. But Aimee Bender has something so superbly special, and it came across in every sentence.

My favorites were Call My Name, Marzipan, and The Ring. But truly, every story was wonderful. And the collection as a whole had this very technicolor, other-worldly feel, but it still felt real and tangible. I feel lik...more
Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
Do you ever add books to your wishlist and forget who recommended a book and how you first heard about it and why you wanted to read it? I wish I knew who recommended this book to me....In a sentence, it is one odd book. In this book of short stories, you never know what is going to happen. You might go to school with an imp or an ice girl. Your father might develop a hole through his stomach the size of a soccer ball. You might fall in love with a robber who takes you along on his jobs. The sto...more
You're going to like it or not. There seems like there's only a small middleground, which is (ironically) where I stand.

There were very strong stories mixed with "snappy, chic, in-your-face, over-the-top" stories that were about "pain" and "human ugliness" and such, but I saw a lot of flash and pop phrases in a forced surreal world. A woman giving birth to her mother. A librarian having sex with every man she sees out of grief. A woman in love with a man only because of his hunchback and leaves...more
Vincent Scarpa
I first read this collection in high school, loved it despite not really 'getting' any of it, and over the past few years would crack it open every now and then to read the first two stories—"The Remember," and "Call My Name." "The Rememberer," because I'm continually moved by that story's narrator; her grace and her grief. And "Call My Name," because I'm always amazed at the way Bender can get a reader [specifically, me] to sympathize with characters who lack any redeeming qualities whatsoever....more
This descended from a 3-star to 1-star, the more stories I read. There were three notable stories: Quiet Please; Call My Name; What You Left in the Ditch. The theme that knits these short stories and the others in this book together is sex applied as a balm.

In these three stories the protagonists make an internal journey between their sexual conquests and quandaries, AND the author seems engaged enough in the story to develop the dark corners of the stories she flashes a light onto. For example...more
I read this book because my friend Imogen Binnie told me that she loves (LOVES!) Amy Bender. Imogen has good taste in books, so I thought, How Could This Be Bad? I requested it from the library. I had a sense of déjà vu reading this book; I have read one (or more) of the stories in one of their previously-published incarnations. So in that case, it was like an old friend and a friend of a friend, plus I read it in one of my favorite places (the bathtub), and the point I'm making is that this boo...more

"Books are the mirrors of the soul."
Virginia Woolf, Between the Acts

take Revenge: Eleven Dark Tales by Yoko Ogawa, especially the writing style and slight drips of metaphysicalness, spirituality, and imagery, slather it with Haruki Murakami; but don't over do it. Add a dash of Karen Russell (when she is on her game).... and you have this book.

these stories, while completely, definitely grounded in their ownness, are somehow linked. The linking is personal, and grounds the read, or at least i

These stories do what a John Donne poem does--they plunk you down in the middle of action that's already going, present a few rules of whatever world you've landed in, and then let the current carry things away. For example, consider the opening lines of the story The Healer, which is one of my favorites: "There were two mutant girls in town: one had a hand made of fire and the other had a hand made of ice. Everyone else's hands were normal." Here's another opening line, from the story Legacy: "...more
Petra Lazarkova
Aimee Bender mě příjemně překvapila románem The Particular sadness of lemon cake a tak jsem chtěla ochutnat i její prvotinu. Pravda, zpočátku jsem si byla trochu nejistá a lamentovala nad svou špatnou angličtinou, snažíc se přijít např. na to, co by mohl znamenat obrat "my father woke up with a hole in his stomach". Načež jsem se začetla dál a došlo mi, že díra v žaludku je skutečná díra v žaludku a že nikoho zásadně neobtěžuje, ani nikomu nepřekáží. V knize se totiž dějí mnohem divnější věci.
I read The Girl in the Flammable Skirt and found it bitter, brittle and melancholy. It's a book of short stories and they are very memorable and well written stories. She uses a lot of magical realism in them, like in the story of the father who woke up with a hole going straight through his body, though he remained in perfect health and the one with the stolen ruby that turns everything it touches red. But the characters and their relationships are superficial and facile. Not in the way they ar...more
This was a collection of stories that was unlike anything I've ever read. I have no idea how to describe these, other than to say that this is some of the most imaginative writing I've ever read. To say that the stories are a little 'out-there' would be an understatement.

I really enjoyed this collection. The author clearly has a vivid imagination and it shines here in all its glory. If you are able to suspend belief completely whilst reading a book, I urge you to pick this up. Completely crazy,...more
While I admire Bender's imagination and bold writing style, I couldn't help feeling like many of these stories were "thin." Each had an alluring premise, peculiar characters and events, but were written in such a way that they all felt like drafts to me that had never been fully fleshed out, developed, and revised. My favorite stories in this collection are the ones that felt the most complete to me and all happen to be in the third and last section: "The Healer," "The Loser," and "The Ring."
i flipped through this collection of short stories in such a breeze. the concepts for stories are incredibly creative and imaginative. it's definitely for readers seeking a sensory experience. most stories involved pretty sexual and bizarre characters, so you should brace yourself for that. for the a couple of characters, the author develops them so realistically that i could envision films or full plot lines built around them, even though i only spent 20 pages getting to know them.
Jeff Scott
Surreal short stories laden with emotional content, it’s the need to connect with others. It is an emotional loss as well as a physical loss; even connections with objects are desperately sought out. A woman holds vigil while her boyfriend devolves from knowing too much, a connection with a wrongly delivered bowl leads to an identity crisis, a woman deals with the loss of her father through desperate connections, a young boy’s special powers doesn’t help him find what he is looking for, all thes...more
Ali Ünal
I'm struggling to find good words to write about this book. From the beginning until the end, it seemed to me nothing but a random arrangement of some pretty far-fetched and shiny ideas together to form a incoherent collection.

I don't think if these pieces are to be called stories, and if they are, I'm pretty sure I didn't like them one bit. Everything in this book was designed so randomly that you were not even forced to find any meaning or intent between the lines. It was not even a blur, thr...more
Chance Lee
This collection of short stories is, for some reason, divided into three parts.

Part One is the strongest. "The Rememberer" is a fascinating, magical tale about a dwindling relationship, although for a reason that no one has ever experienced in real life, but anyone can relate to. "Call My Name" is a semi-erotic tale of desire. "What You Left in the Ditch" is a tragic story of how to continue loving someone who has been disfigured in war (in this case losing nothing but his lips, which are so sm...more
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Aimee Bender is the author of the novel An Invisible Sign of My Own and of the collections The Girl in the Flammable Skirt and Willful Creatures. Her work has been widely anthologized and has been translated into ten languages. She lives in Los Angeles.
More about Aimee Bender...
The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake Willful Creatures An Invisible Sign of My Own The Color Master: Stories Tin House: Fantastic Women

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