Aimee Bender

Cindy Seip

Aimee Bender is the author of The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake, An Invisible Sign of My Own: A Novel, and the short story collections The Girl in the Flammable Skirt, Willful Creatures: Stories, and The Color Master: Stories. Her works have been widely anthologized and translated into 16 languages. The Butterfly Lampshade: A Novel (Anchor Books) is Bender’s poignant tale of a mother, a daughter, mental illness, and the shifting barrier between the mind and the world. On the night her single mother is taken to a mental hospital after a psychotic episode, 8-year-old Francie stays with her babysitter, waiting to take the train to Los Angeles to live with relatives. There is a lamp next to the couch on which she’s sleeping, its shade adorned with butterflies. When she wakes, Francie spies a dead butterfly, exactly matching the ones on the lamp, floating in a glass of water. She drinks it before the babysitter can see. Twenty years later, Francie’s compelled to make sense of that moment and two other inexplicable incidents. Her recall is exact – she is sure these things happened. She is certain about her memories, but still, she wrestles with the hold they have over her and what they say about her relationship to reality. The New York Times called the book a “compact surrealist memory box of a novel.”