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On a Bender


Today, I picked up a copy of Aimee Bender‘s latest novel, The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake. “Sad” is an appropriate word today, as I kick myself for being a complete and utter idiot. Bender was here in Oakland, not 48 hours ago, reading at Diesel books. I’ve been so focused on querying and job-hunting lately that I didn’t think to check her reading schedule until now. So here I am, having just missed her TWO, count ’em, TWO local appearances. I don’t think I can kick myself hard enough.
The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake
I loved her earlier novel, An Invisible Sign of My Own, which is a quirky semi-fantastical portrait of a 20-year-old math teacher who manages her fears via a series of peculiar compulsions. When people ask me, What’s your writing like? or Who does your work sound like? Bender is my go-to person—if I could ever be so fluid. I’m more emotionally extreme: higher highs, lower lows. And choppier. I admire her consistent tone and elegance.
An Invisible Sign of My Own

It’s killing me that I missed her readings. Sometimes, it feels like I can’t possibly keep up with everything. Querying—mostly the research involved beforehand—takes so much time that it’s really cut into both my reading and writing. I just plod along with it, like job-hunting, a little at a time. Add to that daily business news, blogs, connecting with fellow writers … my head is about to explode. It’s not even the rejection that’s driving me nuts at this point; it’s the overwhelming feeling that no matter what I do, I will always be behind, with too many unread books, too little information about the business, not enough professional connections … All of this self-imposed pressure drove me to take a couple of days off from the business end just to read—which, ironically, is what I was doing on Sunday when I missed Bender’s appearance: reading her work. One step forward and one step back. Argh.

The only thing that makes me feel like I’m getting anywhere is writing. The rest is all playing catch-up.


From → Books, Ponderings

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