The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender (Doubleday, 2010, 304pp.)
Rose Edelstein discovers that she can experience the emotions of others by eating foods that they have prepared. Unfortunately, this opens her up to an overwhelming barrage of feelings (and family secrets) from those around her that she’d rather not know. The story is a strange one, but tinged with a diluted kind of sweetness. Bender holds the reader at a distance, using short, clipped sentences that bear an unsteady elegance, resulting in a novel that reads like one long postmodernist poem. At times, however, she gets carried away with this pseudo-Hemingway style of writing, which produces clunky prose that can make for awkward reading. If you are a serious fan of “realistic” literature, you may want to steer clear. If, however, you’re an adventurous reader with a tolerance for the surreal and a very flexible sense of realism, you will find this piece definitely worth your time.
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