Monday, June 14, 2010

Fantastic read: "The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake" by Aimee Bender

While at USC, I was fortunate to take the Advanced Fiction workshop taught by Aimee Bender both semesters of my senior year. Aimee is not just a phenomenal writer, she is a gifted teacher who genuinely cares about each of her students. When I entered her class, I was in a "writing rut" -- everything I put on the page felt stale, trite, overdone. Then along came Aimee. It was impossible to sit in her class and not come away inspired. She has an energy about her that is contagious.

Cue the movie montage. Aimee rejuvenated my love for writing, reading, and the magic of language. She introduced me to the zany, intense, beautiful work of Lorrie Moore, George Saunders, Denis Johnson, Ron Carlson. She inspired me to tackle difficult subjects and explore new terrain in my fiction. My writing – and my self-confidence – developed in wonderful ways thanks in no small part to her unwavering support.

Even though it has been a full year since I've graduated from USC, I will always think of Aimee as my teacher. I am happy to consider her my friend, too. A couple weeks ago, I got to see her give a reading at the marvelous independent bookstore Skylight Books in Los Angeles to celebrate the release of her new novel, The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake. Even if I didn't know and love Aimee, I would give this book five stars. It is an absolute gem. My own personal scale for truly "great" books are those that linger with me after the cover has been closed and the book put back on the shelf. This is one of those books.

If you haven't read any of Aimee Bender's work before, you are especially in for a treat. She has a way of bringing out the extraordinary in the ordinary world. And, when it comes to writing from a child's perspective, Aimee is one of the best writers I have ever come across; in this case, the novel's protagonist Rose is nine when the book begins. I highly recommend The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake to anyone who is looking for an imaginative, entrancing read that delves into the bittersweet complexities of family, love, and growing up.


Sim said...

The title is extremely intriguing. It's not a childrens' book, correct? It just begins with a child's pov?
Continued good thoughts to you and your career building! Many eyes are watching you.

Dallas said...

Thanks, Sim! Yes, it's an adult book, it just beings with a child's POV and the narrator grows older as the book progresses. Hope all is going great with you! Happy summer!