Thursday, January 1, 2015

Bender Better in Brief, I think

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/7048800-the-particular-sadness-of-lemon-cake
The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake, Aimee Bender
Recommended by a loved one.  Ah, the mixed feelings...
  • Bender's writing style here did not appeal to me.  The metaphorical language, pacing, and sequencing irritated me.  Ugly repeats or returns in the narrative felt clumsy instead of confidently informal or like simulations of oratory -- two ways it might have been employed to positive effect.  I'm not a fan of dropping punctuation marks either.
  • The concepts in here are dynamite. The actual impetus to write? Solid.  I think there is plenty worthy of discussion, too (including some strong symbolism); I think this would be a great book club book.   
  • But: the whole thing is pretty depressing.  I was reading the book with dread...pretty much the whole way.
  • I have read some complaints about the direction the story took.  I actually found the shift in the story's arc was where things really picked up, for me.  The things in the latter half that a lot of people found weren't in keeping with the original meandering tale -- those were gold!  They had this awkward, unsettling intrigue to them that the opening gambit lacked.  The beginning was cute and sad all smooshed together.  I was so happy when things got weird...for me it was weird in a good way...and I can't say any more about the direction it took without spoiling it.    
  • Annoying, annoying parents.  So annoying.  And relationships, generally? Also annoying.  Every. single. one. 
  • Sensitivity notes: minimal sensuality -- references only; 3 F-cuss (so, so few after reading Green and Rowell!), and one S, I believe...so on those fronts, not chalking up too many offenses.
  • Overall: I wish this had been 90 pages long.  A li'l novella or long short story would have been the perfect mode of delivery for these intriguing ideas and these characters.  It would have worked better for me.  There was a lot of unnecessary repetition, and I didn't want to spend this long with annoying people and dark feelings (and it wasn't that long!).

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