Monday, October 18, 2010
A Book and an Artist I Like
The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender
I highly recommend this book to anyone who has ever been told that he or she is “too sensitive.”
When she’s eight years old, Rose tastes the lemon-chocolate birthday cake that her mother made for her. She tastes all of her mother’s sadness and emptiness. She cries and goes to bed early. It turns out that she has developed the ability to taste the emotions in food.
As oppressive as this talent (and all the too-much-information that come with it) is, she hones it slowly and painfully, tracing the origin of every ingredient, of every person who has touched every ingredient. She learns a lot about factories, and WAY too much about her mother.
Anyone who grew up hypervigilant will recognize the oppressiveness of the emotional detail that Rose has to take in in order to survive. It’s a suffocating read in places, but worth powering through.
Surviving on heavily processed foods for their relative lack of pathos and learning of her family’s corresponding “special skills,” Rose seeks a place for herself, some solidity amidst the layers of detail.
Not to spoil the ending, but Rose does find her place in the world. She finds a niche where her curse can double as a talent, with enough blank space to balance out the overwhelmingness. For her it was Oreos. For me, TV works, mostly.
Holly Farrell, Painter
Holly’s work reminds me of the resolution of The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake. Her acrylics give me such a feeling of sturdiness, such a nice break from the quantumness of things.
Amy found Holly when she was designing the cover of my book—just a Google image search under “couch” and it was the beast couch by far. We rethought the whole chapbook design so that we could include it.
My very, very favorite is her series of Butterick sewing patterns from I think the 1970s, just like the ones in my mom’s collection. It brought back the feeling of INTERMINABLE fabric store visits, of hours in Mom’s sewing area, of learning to sew from patterns myself.
Being the nice new pal that she is, Holly visited The Serotonin Factory and had this to say: “I took a look at your blog and liked that your trip to your childhood home you referred to as more a reunion than nostalgia - that's how I feel about my painting sometimes.”