The Los Angeles Times said of Aimee Bender that she “…is Hemingway on an acid trip”. She’s not. She’s better than that.
Anyone who’s been reading my blog for any length of time will be aware of how highly I rate Aimee Bender’s work. She’s probably my favourite writer – consistently original, consistently brilliant and consistently mesmerising. She does something that very, very few people are able to do – and that’s to make the fantastic feel familiar – and not only that, she makes it make sense and she makes it affecting. She makes it real.
Her latest book, a novel, ‘The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake‘ is about Rose. Rose, when she’s young, discovers that she can taste emotions in food. So, if the person who’s baked a cake she’s eaten is happy, she’ll feel that when she eats it. If someone was not so happy, then she’ll taste that too.
So there are problems. Problems when the feelings of others can’t be hidden. Problems, even, when the feelings of strangers can’t be hidden either.
But as much as this is a novel about feelings, and perhaps knowing stuff you shouldn’t, I felt it was also a novel about Family. About relationships. About growing up. About growing close to people and about growing away from them. About problems shared and hidden and leaked.
It’s a wonderful book. An exceptional one. I loved it. The characterisation is perfect, its characters convincing and likeable and it has a wonderful tone to it. It reminded me of the sea. Because, no matter what people are going through, the tides still happen, sometimes subtly. And sometimes there are storms.