Monday, February 13, 2012

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender

Here's a book that I'm glad I read once, but wouldn't want to read again.  It intrigued me and pulled me in.  And I found that I really enjoyed reading it... in the sense that I looked forward to picking up the book and losing myself in the pages for a half hour here, twenty minutes there, ten minutes even, if I could.  But it was dark.  And depressing.  And made me feel kinda strange inside.  So would I recommend it?  Yes.  But read it on a sunny day, and only if you're looking for a little darkness.

Amazon review from Publishers Weekly:

Taking her very personal brand of pessimistic magical realism to new heights (or depths), Bender's second novel (following An Invisible Sign of My Own) careens splendidly through an obstacle course of pathological, fantastical neuroses. Bender's narrator is young, needy Rose Edelstein, who can literally taste the emotions of whoever prepares her food, giving her unwanted insight into other people's secret emotional lives—including her mother's, whose lemon cake betrays a deep dissatisfaction. Rose's father and brother also possess odd gifts, the implications of which Bender explores with a loving and detailed eye while following Rose from third grade through adulthood. Bender has been called a fabulist, but emerges as more a spelunker of the human soul; carefully burrowing through her characters' layered disorders and abilities, Bender plumbs an emotionally crippled family with power and authenticity. Though Rose's gift can seem superfluous at times, and Bender's gustative insights don't have the sensual potency readers might crave, this coming-of-age story makes a bittersweet dish, brimming with a zesty, beguiling talent.

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