We're thrilled to welcome two of our favorite authors to the Virtual Readings Gallery!
On The Butterfly Lampshade: From the author of the beloved New York Times bestseller The Particular Sadness Of Lemon Cake, a luminous, poignant tale of a mother, a daughter, mental illness, and the fluctuating barrier between the mind and the world.
On the night her single mother is taken to a mental hospital after a psychotic episode, eight year-old Francie is staying with her babysitter, waiting to take the train to Los Angeles to go live with her aunt and uncle. There is a lovely lamp next to the couch on which she's sleeping, the 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 is compelled to make sense of that moment, and two other incidents -- her discovery of a desiccated beetle from a school paper, and a bouquet of dried roses from some curtains. Her recall is exact -- she is sure these things happened. But despite her certainty, she wrestles with the hold these memories maintain over her, and what they say about her relationship to reality.
"[a] dazzling rumination on time and mental illness. . . Bender has a gift for rooting wonderfully inventive fables in a very recognizable, walkable world [and the] middle-class Los Angeles of backyards and hatchbacks, bus stops and craft shops, is overlaid with mythic events--modest miracles, observed by few, that expose a world of mystery. . . [Francie's] receptiveness to the marvels eddying around brightens every detail in a small, deeply felt life."
-Anne Stringfield, Oprah Magazine
Aimee Bender is the author of the novels The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake and An Invisible Sign of My Own, and of the collections The Girl in the Flammable Skirt, Willful Creatures, and The Color Master. Her works have been widely anthologized and have been translated into sixteen languages. She lives in Los Angeles.
On Likes: In a nimble dance of lightness and gravity, Likes explores the full range and contradictions of our contemporary moment. Through unexpected visitors, Waldorf school fairs, aging indie-film stars, the struggle to gain a foothold in the capitalist shell-game of work, the Instagram posts of a twelve-year-old―these stories of friendship and parenthood, celebrity and obsession, race and class and the passage of time, form an engrossing collection that is both otherworldly and suffused with the deceitful humdrum of everyday life.
For readers of Joy Williams, George Saunders, Lauren Groff, and Deborah Eisenberg, Likes helps us see into our unacknowledged desires and, in quick, artful, nearly invisible cuts, exposes the roots of our abiding terrors and delights.
"Likes brilliantly captures our current moment . . . Likes is a short-story collection you should read slowly, but it's so good, each story at such a high-wire level, that you'll wind up tearing through it and wishing for more."
--Bethanne Patrick, Washington Post
Sarah Shun-lien Bynum is the author of the novels Ms. Hempel Chronicles, a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award, and Madeleine Is Sleeping, a finalist for the National Book Award and winner of the Janet Heidinger Kafka Prize. Her fiction has appeared in many magazines and anthologies, including the New Yorker, Ploughshares, Tin House, The Best American Short Stories, and the O. Henry Prize Stories. The recipient of a Whiting Writers' Award and an NEA Fellowship, she was named one of "20 Under 40" fiction writers by the New Yorker. She lives in Los Angeles.