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Summer reading: Aimee Bender on 'Geek Love'

June 24, 2010 | 10:39 am

Aimeebender_2010 Susan Salter Reynolds writes that Aimee Bender combines William Faulkner's loneliness, a profound empathy and Mark Twain's ability to give a light spin to heavy subjects, and blends them together in her new novel, "The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake." The book, which enters our bestseller list this Sunday at No. 7, is the story of a girl who realizes that she can taste emotions in food, the emotions of the people -- like her mother -- who've prepared what she's eating. Bender, who has been away on a book tour, will return to Los Angeles for a reading and signing at Vroman's Bookstore in Pasadena at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, June 29.

Jacket Copy: Do you remember reading a specific book during summer?

Aimee Bender: I remember reading "Geek Love" by Katherine Dunn one summer; it was one of those books that had been recommended to me countless times but the title had turned me off, and I finally got around to giving it a chance.

JC: What year was it, or how old were you?

AB: I was around 27 or 28.

JC: Where were you?

AB: I was living on Hayworth in West Hollywood, near One Stop Auto and Los Tacos.

JC: What about the book was significant to you then?

AB: I loved how Dunn built her world -- she introduced us to this family of deliberate carnival freaks and then took us in deeper step by step. I grew very attached to everyone.  

JC: Have you reread the book?

I haven't reread the book yet, but I imagine I might in a few years. 

JC: What are you reading this summer?

I was on a panel at the L.A. Times Festival of Books this year with Victor LaValle which made me want to read his new novel, "Big Machine," and I finished it recently. I was blown away -- what a strange, smart book, full of resonance and imagery that will stick with me for a long time.  Now, for a total change of pace, I'm reading "Home," by Marilynne Robinson, because I loved "Gilead." Just read a gorgeous paragraph about how the family dealt with the strong facial-bone structure passed down through generations.

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photo: Aimee Bender. Credit: Max S. Gerber

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