By Aimee Bender
Reviewed by Lia Dun, 17, Marshall HS
Aimee Bender’s Willful Creatures is one of the strangest books I have ever read. The book contains 15 short stories ranging in subject from a boy with keys for fingers to a detective trying to uncover the mystery of why a husband and wife who murdered each other had 14 pairs of salt and pepper shakers lying around their house. Surprisingly, none of these stories appear out of place because they all have one thing in common: they’re weird.
I enjoyed this book because each story seems like one of those dreams you have that makes no sense but seems perfectly logical while you’re having it. Bender’s conversational style also allows her stories to seem even more surreal because she refers to bizarre situations so casually that at first, you think they’re normal and don’t realize how absurd everything is until the end of the story.
I also like that you never know what is going to happen next. In the story “Death Watch,” doctors tell 10 men they are dying and five of the men are so angry that they attack one of the other men, who doesn’t seem to care that he’s dying, and kill him.
My favorite story is “I Will Pick Out Your Ribs (from My Teeth),” about a man whose girlfriend tries to commit suicide so frequently that the head nurse knows his name and why he’s waiting in the emergency room. Bender makes it obvious that the narrator is a loser because he can’t seem to break up with his crazy girlfriend, but he makes such weird observations that you think he’s funny. Her style also helps show the narrator’s character because he describes his suicidal girlfriend in such an offhand way that it makes him seem even more odd.
Some of the stories aren’t as interesting as others. I thought the stories “Mother****er” and “Jinx” are a little bit boring because you can predict how they’re going to end, but even these stories were funny, and I still recommend this book to anyone who wants to read something different.