I tend to gravitate toward short stories the same way I do toward short films, or tapas. Don't like this one? Try another one! It takes a special short story writer to grab my attention, and Aimee Bender was the first author I chose, to bring me back into book reviewing after a couple of years. I have only read her short story collections so far, but I know that I need to read the novels as well, because I'm sure they are just as amazing.
I have read some reviews for some of her books where people tell others that they're "not going to like it." I'm not going to say that. In fact, I'm going to say the opposite. Whether your genre is romance, mystery, western, etc...try it out. I tend to avoid fantasy/sci fi or surrealism like the plague, because they tend to frustrate me, and I normally love truth, much more than imagination when I read a book. But, I love how her books take me away to this other place. It's almost like she accesses a different part of my brain. She is an amazing, creative storyteller! I want to know what makes her come up with such crazy ideas!
Some of my favorites from this collection are: "Red Ribbon", a story about a woman, who, after having a dinner conversation with her husband about his college roommates and prostitutes, decides to spice up their sex life. After that, she can't go back to the way it used to be, and it changes her completely.
"Faces," about a boy who has "facial illiteracy," and his mom discovers it one day after asking about his friends and what they're like. She discovers that he can't really see faces. (I was almost convinced that this is a real thing, after reading this story.)
"Lemonade," one of my favorites, and one of the more "normal" stories. It was about teenaged girls and the angst of growing up and having female friends. Though this may drive some readers crazy, I loved that there were not a lot of periods while we were in Louanne's thoughts. Also, it had a lot of run on sentences. A typical woman's brain to me is like a telephone cord, with everything all tangled up. I really connected with the character, because I felt that she was somewhat strange, an outsider like I was, trying to fit in with her friends and knowing that she didn't.
"A State of Variance," about a woman who turned 40, believed she would die at 80, and the fact that she could now only sleep for an hour at a time. Her son doesn't like the fact that he has a perfectly symmetrical face, and goes out of his way to get it messed up.
"Americca," was another one of my favorites. A family who is getting "reverse robbed." Things are showing up in their household, sometimes in duplicates. They have no idea where any of the items are coming from. 10 year old Lisa is trying to figure out who the "ghost" is that's doing this.
"The Devourings," the last story in the book. About a woman who married an ogre. This ogre eats people and children, but not the ones he knows personally. When he accidentally eats their children, his wife escapes, and tries to make it on her own in the woods, which is also ogre territory.
This is recommended reading for anyone who wants their brain turn to mush, in a good way.