Join Aimee Bender to talk about THE PARTICULAR SADNESS OF LEMON CAKE, our October Book of the Month, TONIGHT, from 9pm

(166 Posts)

October's Book of the Month is THE PARTICULAR SADNESS OF LEMON CAKE by Aimee Bender, a New York Times bestseller and a recent Richard and Judy pick. Rose Edelstein lives in Los Angeles with her seemingly happy family. When she bites into a birthday cake on her ninth birthday, she suddenly tastes her mother's loneliness and unhappiness. After that, she can taste emotion in every morsel: anger in cookies made by a cross chef, distraction in her father's pudding, weariness in factory-processed butter. Worst of all, the blankness in her brother's toast. As Rose grows up, she finds her gift reveals all sorts of secrets she'd rather not confront, but that it cannot tell her everything...

Find out more about Lemon Cake on our book of the month page.

The lovely people at Random House have 50 copies to give away to Mumsnetters -just email your name and address to comps@randomhouse.co.uk and put Lemon Cake/Mumsnet in the subject box (THE BOOKS HAVE NOW ALL GONE)

Otherwise, you can get your paperback or Kindle version now.

We are thrilled that Aimee will be chatting to us about The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake and all her other books on Wednesday 2 November 9-10 pm. Look forward to seeing you there.

groak Thu 29-Sep-11 19:45:40

Ooh, I've emailed them!

purpleturtletoise Thu 29-Sep-11 20:56:26

I'm reading that at the moment for the local library book group Mumsnetters made me join I just signed up to. I am enjoying it. (Although I would like it better with speech marks)

smileitssunny Thu 29-Sep-11 21:35:08

I just bought this! Will try to read it in time for 2nd Nov!

gailforce1 Thu 29-Sep-11 22:00:33

E mail sent and fingers crossed!

StewieGriffinsMom Fri 30-Sep-11 10:35:23

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

All copies now gone so the giveaway is now officially closed. Good luck to all those who emailed - and hope you get your copies speedily this time!

I was reading more of it on the train yesterday whilst sitting in front a man scoffing his egg and bacon bap. Being his breakfast audience made me almost as nauseous as poor Rose.

SeaJay Fri 30-Sep-11 12:06:13

Fantastic book and fantastic lady. She is a friend of my brother and our families had lunch together last Christmas in LA - great food, great chat, great company. I look forward to hearing your conversation!

SexyDomesticatedDab Tue 04-Oct-11 15:47:10

Can't believe it - got this book too (got the What the Nanny Saw last time) - now if only I had the same success rate elsewhere.

gailforce1 Tue 04-Oct-11 20:49:09

Just got an e mail to say that I have a copy!! Thank you. Now all I need to do is finish A Thousand Autumns...

StewieGriffinsMom Tue 04-Oct-11 20:50:58

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Emski76 Wed 05-Oct-11 11:46:42

Just received my my copy in the post and an it wait to start reading!

StewieGriffinsMom Wed 05-Oct-11 11:51:23

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Great that books have arrived, look forward to hearing what y'all think.

Washersaurus Wed 05-Oct-11 22:59:32

I received my copy this morning and am already enjoying it. Thank you lovely book people grin

gailforce1 Thu 06-Oct-11 20:41:38

My copy was waiting for me when I got home from work, cheered me up after a crap day!

whereismywine Wed 12-Oct-11 16:05:44

Have now read it. Will say nothing until next month, but look forward to the chat!

Squigglywiggly Mon 17-Oct-11 14:09:42

I received a copy smile and look forward to the chat! Found it very readable.

Really interesting book, and well written. I'm not sure I actually liked it, but I made it to the end! I didn't seem to like any of the characters.

whereismywine Wed 19-Oct-11 06:46:10

Katherine I'm totally with you. There were things I liked, but things I really didn't. Am itching to say more!

Squigglywiggly Wed 19-Oct-11 07:56:49

I agree with you both as well. Despite how easy it was to read I felt a little disappointed that it didn't really go anywhere and that I empathised with any of the characters.

SexyDomesticatedDab Wed 19-Oct-11 13:04:50

Read my free book too - most of it in the early hours of this morning.

purpleturtletoise Wed 19-Oct-11 19:56:59

I think my opinion is broadly the same as that already expressed here. I haven't taken part in a Book-of-the-month chat before - is it bad form to start the discussion in advance? We discussed it at the library last week and I will forget what the clever ladies said -- by-- 2 weeks time and I really enjoyed the discussion.

I've not either. What's the form with Book of the Month threads TillyBookClub?

RiffRaffeta Fri 21-Oct-11 21:18:21

I got it free - thank you, and I really enjoyed it. Very unusual.

Can I ask a question for Aimee or will that be a spoiler for anyone thats not read it yet?

TheMonster Sat 22-Oct-11 16:20:14

I'm a few pages from the end. It's a little weird and took a while to get into it, but I am enjoying it. It's intreguing.

TheMonster Sun 23-Oct-11 11:12:56

Right. I have finished it. I am confused. What was the deal with the brother and the chair?

DuchessofMalfi Sun 23-Oct-11 18:59:31

I've nearly finished reading it, and am more than a little freaked by the weird behaviour of the brother. Hoping to get it finished before Wednesday.

whereismywine Mon 24-Oct-11 18:12:19

Eeyore - I'm with you. I was reading it in bed and my dh said I looked like I was doing a hard sum when I read the chair bit. I'm still a bit confused!

TheMonster Mon 24-Oct-11 18:37:09

Having finished it, I still don't get what the brother was up to, or what his 'gift' was. He appearred to want to be a chair.

chickflit Mon 24-Oct-11 19:24:17

As I read it he became the chair, he preferred that to be other objects. It kind of threw me and I'm still not sure whether I understood it correctly.

I found the book started off with promise but then sort of faded out.

TheMonster Mon 24-Oct-11 19:44:08

He actually became the chair? How odd. Maybe the narrator will become a bit of food. There's an idea for a sequel...

purpletortoise/KatharineClifton - so far we've had no formal form. I think let's go ahead and discuss the book, and then put questions to Aimee when she comes on.

Perhaps we should say that from now on, everyone should feel free to have a frank discussion on the thread on whatever they thought of that month's book, whether or not they can make the discussion night. And then the webchat will focus on the author's responses.

Speaking of which, it's also time to put any advance questions here as I'll be sending them on to Aimee at the beginning of next week. Perfect for those who can't make it, or would like to be the first to get an answer...

purpleturtletoise Mon 24-Oct-11 21:43:02

I found the whole book more than a little bit slow, to be honest. By the time I'd finished it, I was wishing that she'd chosen to tell Joseph's story, as that could have been a far more interesting story. The part where Rose finds him part-human part-chair is the highlight of the book for me.

OliviaMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 24-Oct-11 22:33:32

Marking place

TheMonster Tue 25-Oct-11 09:22:14

I'm going to have to re-read it.
What did he actually do with the chair when she found him in his apartment? I didn't quite get it.

DuchessofMalfi Tue 25-Oct-11 14:20:35

I finished reading it last night. Where did Joseph go to? I didn't understand why the family seemed to just let him slip away from them without making much of an effort to track him down. He was, presumably still alive. I don't understand the significance of the chair either. I thought the saddest comment was when Rose was talking to her Dad about his father who could smell people's emotions, and he smelled his own death.

whereismywine Tue 25-Oct-11 16:48:33

The way I read it was that his gift was to become objects, but mostly he liked being a chair. I actually didn't like this aspect of the book as it felt kind of under explained and very random and a bit silly. I think i wanted him to be vanishing to a place maybe? But I guess the whole premise was all rather surreal. I also wanted her to get it together with her brothers friend! I'm willing to be talked into how the chair bit was good though smile

TheMonster Tue 25-Oct-11 18:56:14

I agree, whereismywine: I want to hear Bender's side of the story about the brother.

Greedygirl Tue 25-Oct-11 19:10:14

Oh no, serves me right for being nosey, in the middle of reading this for a RL bookclub and just seen the bit about the brother and the chair which I hadn't got to yet! I am not sure what to make of it so far. The mother really gets on my nerves but maybe that is just clever of the author. Will look forward to full discussion once I have finished it and got my head around the brother stuff!

TheMonster Tue 25-Oct-11 19:30:52

Greedygirl, don't worry! We haven't spoilt it for you because no one has a clue what actually happens!

chickflit Tue 25-Oct-11 19:47:33

What I found a bit sad was, she only seemed to eat happy food once, everything else was always sad. Surely even if you're having a busy day it doesn't mean you're sad.

The mother was irritating and the father seemed so disconnected from them.

I liked the brother's story a lot until the chair thing. What I think happened was his special ability was he could change into objects, he'd tried them all but preferred the chair. She got him to promise if he ever did it again that he would only ever be that one particular chair. That's the chair she takes with her to the restaurant at the end when she's moving on, so her brother is always with her. I have to confess though, by this part of the book I too was starting to fade away so may not have been paying 100% attention and was thinking WTF at the same time.

TheMonster Tue 25-Oct-11 19:51:10

Crazy. The food/sadness thing is bizarre enough, but a bloke turning into furniture is just mental.

Greedygirl Wed 26-Oct-11 07:27:20

Right I have finished it now! Utterly bonkers! Some of the writing was brilliant but I don't know...perhaps I am not in the mood for such a barmy book at the moment.

TheMonster Wed 26-Oct-11 08:13:40

Greedy, what was your take on the brother?

kittysaysmiaow Wed 26-Oct-11 14:55:17

The 'chair' scene was the highlight of the novel for me. Until then the atmosphere of the story had been quite light but that scene changed the tone and I loved the way the author created such an eerie atmosphere in the flat. I dont think the author intended the reader to fully understand what was happening, as the protagonist herself couldn't grasp it. But as I understood it the family had special powers and Joseph's was to turn himself into objects. I thought that he used it to escape from the world and his family, and especially the claustrophobia of his mother's love for him. He just found it easier not to exist.

Greedygirl Wed 26-Oct-11 19:23:47

BodyOfEeyore - I agree with Kittysays re the brother and I think parts of the book were very well written such as the chair scene. But it was just too wacky for me.

EsioTrot Wed 26-Oct-11 19:27:50

I really enjoyed it. I like it even more having read your last post kitty...well said grin

I liked the character of the dad. I found the gradual shift from someone totally emotionally removed from the family, to being the "lynch pin" whilst the mother is off with Larry very touching and believable.

whereismywine Wed 26-Oct-11 20:17:35

kitty this has really got me thinking! I think was so busy thinking wtf? that I didn't stop to give it that kind of character thinking. I think because he was so very distant, I felt irked by him, rather than sympathetic? I'm enjoying this thread. I also agree that I wanted her to taste more emotions. Like someone who had just fallen in love <had a good shag>, someone just back off holiday or proud etc?

TheMonster Wed 26-Oct-11 22:41:02

Whereis, I think that was my problem too: I didn't connect in any way with the brother. I don't think that the narrator was particularly connected to her family, any of them, emotionally.
On a plus note, I have just finished The Reluctant Fundamentalist, and that was ace!

The RL really is ace! Read Moth Smoke recently and loved that too.

RF, not RL.

sittinginthesun Thu 27-Oct-11 14:16:38

marking my place - I read this book last holiday, and loved it. It was one of those books that will stay with me, if you know what I mean.

RiffRaffeta Thu 27-Oct-11 19:47:08

OK. I have a question. I found the depiction of the mother/son relationship very interesting, especially in relation to the mother/daughter one. I also found the mother a very interesting character outside this, a mother that seemed, on many levels, to break the traditional stereotypes.

Is the author drawing on personal experiences in either the relationships the mother has with her children or in character?

Enjoying the discussion - and also agree about wanting more emotions to be tasted. And I can't remember if when she tastes food she's made herself, does she taste all the sadness/happiness in her own self? I mean, does she surprise herself with her own emotions?

I must go back re-read a bit before next Weds

Keep the advance questions coming... you've got till Monday to pop them up here.

RiffRaffeta Thu 27-Oct-11 21:00:13

She doesn't make full meals for that reason, I think Tilly. Except at the end.

LynnCSchreiber Thu 27-Oct-11 22:40:46

I read the book some time ago. It was one of the most memorable books I have read, both in terms of the surreal storyline and the beautiful prose.

Aimee
I would like to know if you have noticed a difference between the way that your novels are received in UK to the US, particularly in your native state. Are readers in some states or countries more willing to suspend logic and simply enjoy the unbelievable.

southlondonlady Fri 28-Oct-11 17:10:12

I enjoyed this book - its different and has stayed with me. I didn't understand why the dad didn't pick up earlier that his kids had "special skills" as it might have helped them if he had warned them that these abilities ran in the family.

Has anyone read Like Water for Chocolate? Its quite an old book but a slightly similar theme as in the main character transfers her own feelings into the food she cooks.

WhatsWrongWithYou Sat 29-Oct-11 23:48:34

This thread has proved quite timely for me as I started it while on holiday this week - but, reading about the chair and all I don't think I'll be finishing it.

I like the prose style and the fact it seems literate and intelligent, but quite early on was already feeling irked by the whole tasting-emotions conceit.

I was expecting more of a realistic examination of family issues - coming to terms with mental health problems, maybe (thought the mother might be bi-polar and the brother was obviously struggling in several ways), but I really don't need to be spending precious hours of my time reading someone's weirdly concocted but ultimately dull concept of some sort of alternative universe. Angela Carter it ain't.

Thanks for the heads-up.

It's going to be a lively discussion night, I can tell..
I've sent Aimee your advance questions, but feel free to put more up, especially if you can't make it on the night.
See you Wednesday, looking forward to it...

Quejica Mon 31-Oct-11 11:25:55

Did the lack of speech marks irritate anyone else? I found I had to keep going back over sentences and sometimes couldn't tell if words were actually said out loud or just thoughts.

OliviaMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 31-Oct-11 11:29:52

Quejica - yes that did jar a bit. I wonder if it was deliberate to add to the dreamlike atmosphere? Aimee - can you help us with this?

RunforFun Mon 31-Oct-11 13:28:04

I was lucky to get a free copy of this. Thanks !

I really enjoyed the book, although like others have said i sometimes had to read then re-read the page to try and get it clear in my own mind what was happening. It was very well written and reminded me of time travellers wife which was another odd story I wouldnt normally turn to but was captivated by in the end.

My question... humm... what gave you the basic idea for this novel ? it just seems so off the wall and unusual I cannot comprehend where i would begin to make up a story like this.

gailforce1 Mon 31-Oct-11 21:14:25

Thank you for my free copy, however, I will not be passing it on as I think that I will go back and re-read after chat with Aimee.

Agree with Whatswrong I thought the Mother was bi polar and,initially, the brother was autistic/aspergic. But I really did'nt get the changing into the chair and a particular folding chair at that!

Looking forward to the chat so that I can be enlightened!

purpleturtletoise Mon 31-Oct-11 21:58:47

Did I forget to mention how annoying I found the lack of speech marks?!

It wasn't something I really considered, but the library book-group seemed a bit obsessed by the autism theory. I think they had diagnosed the whole family hmm.

Like RunForFun, it did put me in mind of Audrey Niffenegger, but I'm afraid I didn't think this was in the same league - not quite surreal enough for me.

I did like the lack of speech marks. Made the book flow much more nicely I think. It really is a beautiful prose.

Anyone looking for something a little different/magical without going down the fantasy route should try Alice Hoffman. Fantastic books.

chickflit Tue 01-Nov-11 08:40:24

To be fair the autism thing was what stuck with me the most but I have a DS with ASD so it's never far from my mind. It's actually one of the things that made me connect with the brother more than Rose or any of the family, I actually could identify with him, the lack of eye contact, focusing on what's interesting at school and not bothering with subjects that are of no interest, these are all issues that feature in my life through my son. Even George and his need to twang an elastic band on his wrist, I could identify with that as DS has something along similar lines that he needs to do.

To an extent these issues helped me identify with the mother too and possibly her claustrophobic love because I find myself worrying constantly over my own DS his reactions, over people's reactions, is he happy, watching him constantly for any change in routine, trying to bring him out of himself and interact with the family, so I could see where she was coming from.

I did enjoy the book, it was very easy to read, there was just something that stopped me from really being drawn into the characters and immersed in them. It was almost as if I was a fly on the wall of the family's life.

LynnCSchreiber Tue 01-Nov-11 10:06:44

Is it a new thing not to use quotation marks for speech? It is the second book I have read recently not to use them. I admit it irritated me to begin with but I got used to it.

OliviaMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 01-Nov-11 12:48:55

MmeLindor

Is it a new thing not to use quotation marks for speech?

Ooh could be.
I find my pedantry for punctuation has been fading with age and laziness and too much MNing often end sentences without full stops
And then just hit return
I do it in emails too
blush

NYmomma Tue 01-Nov-11 13:12:28

I also wish we could start discussing...because I feel like I missed something. Or, maybe, I just didn't get it? Is this stay-at-home mum brain, or was anyone else, um, confused?

NYmomma Tue 01-Nov-11 13:13:28

I think this is a device Bender decides to use--omitting quotation marks. A good question to ask her, though.

NYmomma Tue 01-Nov-11 14:32:25

Sorry--I missed the other threads before I posted my first one.

OK. So I did understand it: The brother becomes a chair. Right. So I was into the whole emotions-through-food thing--yes, I bought it--but no, I can't buy the brother-becoming-a-chair concept. That's beyond surreal. And I'm trying to uncover the deeper meaning behind a human being becoming objects. I'm trying.

I was griped by the novel, though. At first, I was wondering where it was all going. After the first section, I felt like the book took off. I loved Rose as a character. She develops throughout the book, and I love how the family noticeably changes. I also liked how Joseph was never given a title--like autistic. The scene in his bedroom was beyond creepy. It actually made me feel ill. I thought he had somehow inserted the chair into himself. I'm sorry--so gross--but I had to read & re-read & re-re-read in order to see what Rose saw.

I'd love to know how this book started for Bender. What idea was the seed for this novel? What was her jumping off point, and did the book turn out the way she had expected, or did the story & characters take over?

Looking forward to Thursday...

OliviaMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 01-Nov-11 17:33:22

NyMomma it's wednesday

It's not OliviaMumsnet, it's definitely Tuesday. grin

NYmomma Tue 01-Nov-11 19:52:24

Thanks, OliviaMumsnet. I miss knowing what day it is, the date, month...year? I remember when I was organised & astute. Oh well. Looking forward to Wednesday.

LizzyA123 Tue 01-Nov-11 22:39:54

I enjoyed the book but found the lack of speech marks irritating. I also think there where a lot of loose ends and the story didn't develop the characters. Overall a story about a disfunctional family, without a satisfactory conclusion for anyone. Also what was the relevance of the grandma who didn't see her family?

OliviaMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 01-Nov-11 22:42:43

grin blush

Aimee
I have a question from DS2's godmother (to whom I gave a copy of the book but she can't be here tomorrow as she's hosting a RL bookclub shock where they are discussing Another Book. <tsk>

She wanted to know what gave you the idea?
She also wanted to know if you have The Time Travellers Wife as it reminded her in some ways of that book.

Thanks and see you all tomorrow which WILL be Wednesday.grin

I'm re-reading THAT chair scene today to get ready for tonight's chat - very much looking forward to hearing Aimee's answers to all the above, see you all at 9pm...

Emski76 Wed 02-Nov-11 12:54:14

i also loved the book, did find the lack of speech marks confusing at times, and did find the chair bit hard to understand, but then I'm a bit slow with these things!!
I loved the concept of the book, and really liked when the dad told her about his and his fathers 'talents'. Really interesting ending.
i wish had a question for Aimee but I can't think of anything, will come on to read the chat though.

OliviaMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 02-Nov-11 14:05:11

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

SexyDomesticatedDab Wed 02-Nov-11 14:08:53

Won't be joining tonight as on dads taxi run. Found book interesting overall - chair was a bit weird. Some of the localisms got me a bit confused worked out 'bangs' but there were a couple of others - maybe foods.

In the plot it looked like her fathers side had some similar 'powers'.

AimeeBender Wed 02-Nov-11 19:54:05

testing, testing

GeraldineMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 02-Nov-11 19:57:34

Aimee - and Tilly - that was just us testing your log-in smile

Greedygirl Wed 02-Nov-11 20:24:20

I would love to know the inspiration for the book (sorry if anyone has already asked this).

TheMonster Wed 02-Nov-11 20:29:21

the lack of speech marks was frustrating to me at first, but I got used to it and it have it a sort of recollection-effect.

Aimee, why did you choose not to use them? I'm curious as to what you wanted the effect to be.

As someone has said, I won't be passing my copy on yet because I want to re-read it after tonight's discussion.

mymuchness Wed 02-Nov-11 20:45:00

I would like to know from Aimee which 'special skill' she would like to have...?

What was the emotion that tasted in her own food that she didnt recognise?

mymuchness Wed 02-Nov-11 20:52:49

How long did it take to write..?

Evening everyone

I'm absolutely thrilled and excited to introduce Aimee Bender as tonight's Author of the Month. THE PARTICULAR SADNESS OF LEMON CAKE has sparked much debate and there is so much to discuss, I'm delighted that we have the chance to ask a few questions.

So without further ado...

Aimee, firstly - congratulations on a beautifully written and magical book. And thank you for taking the time to talk to us. Perhaps we could kick off with the advance questions from further up the thread? And then we'll aim to get through as many as possible over the next hour.

I'd also like to add our standard two Mumsnet HQ questions:

Which childhood book most inspired you?

What would be the first piece of advice you would give anyone attempting to write fiction?

AimeeBender Wed 02-Nov-11 21:01:14

Hello Tilly and all! First off, thanks so much for saying that and for having me. It’s really a pleasure to be here on this site meeting you all in this way.

About the childhood book--there are so many! I loved (predictably) the books about magical lands/places, like the L’Engle books and the Oz books. I must’ve read A Wrinkle in Time yearly for a good while. And The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles, a gem by Julie Andrews (same one) completely charmed me.

Advice in next post...

AimeeBender Wed 02-Nov-11 21:02:49

And, about the advice—
generally, my first piece of advice is often about non-advice--- there’s A LOT of prescriptive advice about how to write a story, what a story needs, what should happen by the end of a story, and a lot of that can get in the way of actually telling the story you want to tell in the way you like to tell it. Fiction is a beautifully flexible form and can do all sorts of gymnastics. I love fairy tales, and it took me years to really embrace that and trust it as a true influence. So I tell people to admit what they love about other writing, what words they’re drawn to, what kinds of stories, what type of storytelling, and not to try to be a different kind of writer than they are. Of course this sounds easier than it is! It takes time to sort through.

AimeeBender Wed 02-Nov-11 21:03:51

MmeLindor

I read the book some time ago. It was one of the most memorable books I have read, both in terms of the surreal storyline and the beautiful prose.

Aimee
I would like to know if you have noticed a difference between the way that your novels are received in UK to the US, particularly in your native state. Are readers in some states or countries more willing to suspend logic and simply enjoy the unbelievable.

Thanks so much—I’m really so glad it spoke to you. I haven’t really noticed a difference in the two countries, but I do seem to hear that some readers don’t go for some of the magical elements, particularly with Joseph, which I respect, but it means they may be frustrated, and other readers will go with it and find something in it. I guess what I hope is that somehow the story revealed will stir a feeling in the reader, even if they don’t understand how to fit the feeling into the story right away. I’m especially interested in feeling/image over meaning; I want to give a reader an experience, and make her feel something, and what it means can open up over time.

AimeeBender Wed 02-Nov-11 21:04:47

RiffRaffeta

OK. I have a question. I found the depiction of the mother/son relationship very interesting, especially in relation to the mother/daughter one. I also found the mother a very interesting character outside this, a mother that seemed, on many levels, to break the traditional stereotypes.

Is the author drawing on personal experiences in either the relationships the mother has with her children or in character?

Thanks, RiffRaffeta. Very good to hear.
Let’s see… there isn’t a one-to-one experience that I’m using—meaning there isn’t one person who I mold into that character. It’s more that I sort of sit down at the computer and see what/who shows up. But of course the core of these relationships has to be familiar in some way or they wouldn’t feel like people. I can see a few people I know in the mother, but she’s also an invention, and I wanted to explore how she seemed to feel so differently towards Rose and Joseph and how that impacted each so differently, too. That she really looked to Joseph for a kind of guidance that didn’t fit his age/role, and Rose was the observer of that—she left out in a good way and also of course felt envious at times too.

gailforce1 Wed 02-Nov-11 21:05:40

Thanks for coming to talk to us Aimee!
As someone up-thread mentioned why did the grandmother not visit/was not visited?

AimeeBender Wed 02-Nov-11 21:08:01

RunforFun

I was lucky to get a free copy of this. Thanks !

I really enjoyed the book, although like others have said i sometimes had to read then re-read the page to try and get it clear in my own mind what was happening. It was very well written and reminded me of time travellers wife which was another odd story I wouldnt normally turn to but was captivated by in the end.

My question... humm... what gave you the basic idea for this novel ? it just seems so off the wall and unusual I cannot comprehend where i would begin to make up a story like this.

Thanks RunforFun-- I did a lot of reading and rereading while writing it so it makes sense, what you say! The basic idea is kinda hard for me to pinpoint but I was thinking a lot about what it means to be sensitive. What is good about that, and what is hard about that, and how people fall on a spectrum of sensitivity-- the 'too' sensitive, the 'insensitive', and on and on. I was wondering how we all cope with our varying degrees of porousness to the world.

NYmomma Wed 02-Nov-11 21:08:29

I'd love to know the inspiration for the book. What idea was the spark that birthed the book?

AimeeBender Wed 02-Nov-11 21:09:45

OliviaMumsnet

grin blush

Aimee
I have a question from DS2's godmother (to whom I gave a copy of the book but she can't be here tomorrow as she's hosting a RL bookclub shock where they are discussing Another Book. <tsk>

She wanted to know what gave you the idea?
She also wanted to know if you have The Time Travellers Wife as it reminded her in some ways of that book.

Thanks and see you all tomorrow which WILL be Wednesday.grin

So, I actually haven't read The Time Traveller's Wife yet though I'd like to-- have heard good things.

Also, re the idea-- I have a close friend who is always talking about how she's digesting a conversation she had, or metabolizing it, or processing it-- and so in my mind there was a link made between our emotional lives and the good old G.I. tract.

NYmomma Wed 02-Nov-11 21:10:33

I should add: Was it concrete? For example, did you taste something that allowed you to feel the cook's emotions? (And I loved that about the book & found it completely believable.)

purpleturtletoise Wed 02-Nov-11 21:10:54

Spectrum of sensitivity - that's like a light-bulb moment for me in terms of understanding your story. Thanks! Seems completely obvious now, but I hadn't pulled it out of the novel for myself.

AimeeBender Wed 02-Nov-11 21:12:10

BodyOfEeyore

the lack of speech marks was frustrating to me at first, but I got used to it and it have it a sort of recollection-effect.

Aimee, why did you choose not to use them? I'm curious as to what you wanted the effect to be.

As someone has said, I won't be passing my copy on yet because I want to re-read it after tonight's discussion.

Ah, the quotes! Okay. Well, I'd actually read books that hadn't used quotes-- Cormac McCarthy and Jayne Anne Phillips and Judy Budnitz-- and I just always really liked the feel and the look. Or Jose Saramago's book Blindness-- he doesn't use quotes OR paragraph indentations! So it is a bit of work but I kind of like that. I did feel like it was a way to show how her internal and external worlds were meshing, but it's also just a visual choice-- when I would occasionally add quotes to see if I liked it better, they just looked wrong.

AimeeBender Wed 02-Nov-11 21:14:15

mymuchness

I would like to know from Aimee which 'special skill' she would like to have...?

A hard question! I'm not sure. I guess I do think it's helpful when a person can "turn off" his/her skill the way Rose can by occasionally eating machine food or just in between meals. So a skill that has some built-in limits. But I do like to try to be tuned into people. That's something I try to cultivate. And I think any kind of creative activity is appealing to me as a way to process what it's like to be a person.

TheMonster Wed 02-Nov-11 21:15:04

Thanks for your answer. I think it did show the meshing of the external and internal worlds of the narrator, and it was something that I thought about a lot when I first started reading it.
I'm not sure I could read a book with no paragraphs though!

AimeeBender Wed 02-Nov-11 21:16:40

oldenglishspangles

What was the emotion that tasted in her own food that she didnt recognise?

Ah, so I think the one you mean is the factory taste. Which relates a little to the previous question, about getting a break from a skill. The way I imagined it, Rose tasted some factory in herself, something machine-like and detached in herself, because she HAD withdrawn from people somewhat to cope with all the info she was getting from people. She needed to, but it had a cost. And she sees this bigtime in her brother, which is why, in my mind, she is so disturbed by seeing his total exit from the world into the inanimate. She has this in her too-- just to a much smaller degree. And possibly it's the reason she can start to go out and find people who do nourish her.

AimeeBender Wed 02-Nov-11 21:17:26

mymuchness

How long did it take to write..?

Took about 3.5 years? It takes me awhile to figure out what I'm writing about-- there's a lot of wandering/cutting.

AimeeBender Wed 02-Nov-11 21:19:25

gailforce1

Thanks for coming to talk to us Aimee!
As someone up-thread mentioned why did the grandmother not visit/was not visited?

Let's see-- I did write a scene where they went to visit, and it was fun to write, but in the end it seemed to make more sense to me that she was kind of a non-presence. Maybe she's the lineage of Joseph in a way, in that she seems more connected to the family via these objects than in person. (By the way-- since the book is now done please don't take my answers as the 'right' answers-- they're just my opinions/thoughts and may or may not fit with your reading, of course!). It did feel important to me that he picked her chair. And that the mother might not have been adequately mothered by this grandmother.

NYmomma Wed 02-Nov-11 21:19:57

I'd love to know if Aimee scripted the entire book before writing it. Did you have a road map, or did the direction change at any point? Also, I'd love to hear more about Joseph. He's never labelled--which I loved--and this seems intentional. What informed this decision?

AimeeBender Wed 02-Nov-11 21:21:39

NYmomma

I should add: Was it concrete? For example, did you taste something that allowed you to feel the cook's emotions? (And I loved that about the book & found it completely believable.)

Fun to consider. And glad it felt believable! Not food but I have felt at times that there's a feeling in the air, in a room, that is somehow not acknowledged, and it is a strange feeling-- I'm sure we've all felt that at various times. It can be so unsettling. And confusing! But I do have an aunt who, when I told her about the idea for the book, said she knew of a lady who served two salads at a party-- one full of happy feelings and one full of negativity. Her quote: "No one ate the negative salad." I told that story to a friend of mine who write poetry and she said, "now there's a good line."

AimeeBender Wed 02-Nov-11 21:22:15

purpleturtletoise

Spectrum of sensitivity - that's like a light-bulb moment for me in terms of understanding your story. Thanks! Seems completely obvious now, but I hadn't pulled it out of the novel for myself.

I'm very glad-- makes these kind of discussions so worthwhile!!

Mrsoverreaction Wed 02-Nov-11 21:22:48

This is really interesting. I agree with many other posters' comments. I found parts of the book confusing, the section in the brother's flat was very eerie (so well written i guess as I presume that was the intention?) and NYmomma I also thought he had somehow inserted the chair into himself and like the narrator was worried that it was going to be gruesome and that he would be hurt and bleeding.

I enjoyed reading it but ultimately didn't find it totally satisfying (sorry Aimee!) as I felt, like others, that there were a few loose ends: the grandma's behaviour; the father's failure to share his knowledge (fear?); and the long term fate of the brother. I also found the overall tone of the book quite bleak because of the lack of friends and social life of the entire family; they seemed quite introverted and isolated and I often felt sorry for the narrator despite her lack of self pity.

Aimee, your comments have helped me to understand some of this already so thanks!

mymuchness Wed 02-Nov-11 21:22:48

Did you have to edit this novel a lot? (Or was it hugely edited?) The reason I ask is because I felt frustrated at not knowing enough about some characters, the father, the Grandmother and Joseph.
Are there 'deleted scenes'..?! Or was this deliberate?

AimeeBender Wed 02-Nov-11 21:23:03

BodyOfEeyore

Thanks for your answer. I think it did show the meshing of the external and internal worlds of the narrator, and it was something that I thought about a lot when I first started reading it.
I'm not sure I could read a book with no paragraphs though!

Glad it comes through.
I do really recommend Blindness-- it's confusing for 3 pages and then you just fall into the rhythm of it. It's a gripping read.

AimeeBender Wed 02-Nov-11 21:26:30

NYmomma

I'd love to know if Aimee scripted the entire book before writing it. Did you have a road map, or did the direction change at any point? Also, I'd love to hear more about Joseph. He's never labelled--which I loved--and this seems intentional. What informed this decision?

Totally road mapless. I have tried that and just can't do it. It's all intuitive-- I am following whatever seems to have a kind of charge to it, and seeing what happens. This means I am often totally frustrated! and then there are these surprises that keep me in it.

Yes-- very deliberate not to label Joseph. Some people say he seems autistic, and others say he's just like their schizophrenic brother. I think I wanted to describe behavior, to describe him, and let people see where he fit-- it's one of the advantages of any kind of magical storytelling is that the road into the character is a little different. He may be autistic or he may even appear autistic because he's so armored up against the world but is very soft inside.

TheMonster Wed 02-Nov-11 21:27:23

I might give it a try.
I love the idea of the negative salad. Did she just think bad thoughts as she made it?

LynnCSchreiber Wed 02-Nov-11 21:28:21

Thanks for answering my question.

It is interesting to hear the reasoning behind your characters actions. I like the fact that there is more to them than we have been told, like meeting someone new and thinking that you have them sussed then being told something that makes you reassess your opinion.

How do you decide what details go into the book and what is your personal knowledge (or feeling) about the character?

AimeeBender Wed 02-Nov-11 21:28:46

Mrsoverreaction

This is really interesting. I agree with many other posters' comments. I found parts of the book confusing, the section in the brother's flat was very eerie (so well written i guess as I presume that was the intention?) and NYmomma I also thought he had somehow inserted the chair into himself and like the narrator was worried that it was going to be gruesome and that he would be hurt and bleeding.

I enjoyed reading it but ultimately didn't find it totally satisfying (sorry Aimee!) as I felt, like others, that there were a few loose ends: the grandma's behaviour; the father's failure to share his knowledge (fear?); and the long term fate of the brother. I also found the overall tone of the book quite bleak because of the lack of friends and social life of the entire family; they seemed quite introverted and isolated and I often felt sorry for the narrator despite her lack of self pity.

Aimee, your comments have helped me to understand some of this already so thanks!

No problem-- I know it's not for everyone and that's ok with me. I think I am a fan of gaps and holes and finding pieces to fit together over time-- and I like bleak books, too! So there you go. But I appreciate what you say-- it makes sense. It is a very isolated family. And yes-- I'd say the father's not sharing is from fear. But don't you know people like that? I definitely do.

OliviaMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 02-Nov-11 21:28:55

Hi Aimee
Thanks for this. What are your thoughts on E-books?
(I read this on the kindle which was a v non-sensual experience)

I didn't even notice the quotes weren't there until reading this thread! It all flowed naturally for me.

I thought the dialogue between the family was brilliantly done, so believable. I particularly loved the struggling-to-communicate scenes between Rose and her dad, in front of the telly or on the classic driving lesson.

Do you find dialogue hard to do? Was it a particular challenge with this book, given the extraordinary occurences that the characters are dealing with? And did you always plan to do it as first person narrative, or did you try other styles?

AimeeBender Wed 02-Nov-11 21:30:20

mymuchness

Did you have to edit this novel a lot? (Or was it hugely edited?) The reason I ask is because I felt frustrated at not knowing enough about some characters, the father, the Grandmother and Joseph.
Are there 'deleted scenes'..?! Or was this deliberate?

I did edit a lot, but usually not info-- basically, since it was first person, I was in Rose's POV and could only access what she could. And she, via the food, can access a lot! But not all. And the father doesn't want to know himself so he just can't possibly share that. What did you want to know about Joseph? He is also an enigma to her to some extent, but I know people often have questions about him.

AimeeBender Wed 02-Nov-11 21:31:11

BodyOfEeyore

I might give it a try.
I love the idea of the negative salad. Did she just think bad thoughts as she made it?

Ha! I think so. Which sounds actually a little fun, on the right kind of day...

AimeeBender Wed 02-Nov-11 21:33:17

MmeLindor

Thanks for answering my question.

It is interesting to hear the reasoning behind your characters actions. I like the fact that there is more to them than we have been told, like meeting someone new and thinking that you have them sussed then being told something that makes you reassess your opinion.

How do you decide what details go into the book and what is your personal knowledge (or feeling) about the character?

To be honest, a lot of what I've just said about the characters came once the book was done and I was doing readings and having to articulate it. So while writing, it's more about feeling out the story, and reading it, and groping along, and feeling what gaps feel ok to me and what feels like it's off. And having friends read it, editor, and all that. So while in the book it's much more physical-- like the scene with the dad revealing his skill was just me really trying hard to imagine how that conversation would play out, and what it was like for Rose, and what he knew about and was willing to know about and was closed off to, too. Not sure if that really answers your question!

LynnCSchreiber Wed 02-Nov-11 21:33:49

By "road mapless" do you mean you had no idea while writing how it would progress/end?

I am trying to write a book at the moment and find that I make it up as I go along, without having a plan of what is going to happen. I had the impression that this was somehow doing it wrong. That I should have index cards and a proper plot all planned.

AimeeBender Wed 02-Nov-11 21:34:53

OliviaMumsnet

Hi Aimee
Thanks for this. What are your thoughts on E-books?
(I read this on the kindle which was a v non-sensual experience)

I guess they're here to stay, or for awhile, right? I am a fan of the pages still but it seems like people are still reading, which is good. I feel slightly panicked about E-books but am comforted when I hear that people are reading away.

southlondonlady Wed 02-Nov-11 21:35:58

Hi Aimee, I really enjoyed the book. George is a lovely character, we're you tempted to have him and Rose get together? It was more realistic I think that they didn't!

AimeeBender Wed 02-Nov-11 21:36:54

TillyBookClub

I didn't even notice the quotes weren't there until reading this thread! It all flowed naturally for me.

I thought the dialogue between the family was brilliantly done, so believable. I particularly loved the struggling-to-communicate scenes between Rose and her dad, in front of the telly or on the classic driving lesson.

Do you find dialogue hard to do? Was it a particular challenge with this book, given the extraordinary occurences that the characters are dealing with? And did you always plan to do it as first person narrative, or did you try other styles?

It really started as first person-- that scene with the cake at the start was my starting point too and so it felt really solidly in first person, in her voice. The dialogue-- mostly it felt okay, but I think there was more dialogue in this book than any other book I've written. Lots of talking! And that took awhile to pace-- dialogue is so much about getting the pace of the scene right so the information slips in in a way that a reader can, well, digest it.
Thanks for the nice compliment, too.

Mrsoverreaction Wed 02-Nov-11 21:37:09

BodyofEeyore and Aimee:
Yes I love the line about the negative salad. This has also really made me think about projecting feelings, such as when I say to DH, "DD has been a bit grumbly today" and then, reflecting on that, I've realised that I've been the grumbly one and wondering how much my emotions affect her behaviour. A lot I think!

NYmomma Wed 02-Nov-11 21:37:24

Thanks for answering all of my questions, Aimee. I'm a fan of the understated, so I enjoyed having to fill in the blanks with Joseph and whatever Rose didn't know. I liked the room that the narrator gives to the reader, and I think that must be hard as a writer. You want to tell the reader everything to make sure they're getting what you're trying to express, so you must have had to be quite restrained. You say a lot by not saying too much--if that makes sense. I enjoyed that power as a reader.

mymuchness Wed 02-Nov-11 21:38:57

I think I wanted to know 'why' Joseph behaved the way he did... was it down to his reaction to his mothers affair, why did he do what he did? Plus what significance did the door in his room have...? Was it supposed to represent a way of getting out...?? what was special about that particular chair that made him ring his grandmother..?

AimeeBender Wed 02-Nov-11 21:39:11

MmeLindor

By "road mapless" do you mean you had no idea while writing how it would progress/end?

I am trying to write a book at the moment and find that I make it up as I go along, without having a plan of what is going to happen. I had the impression that this was somehow doing it wrong. That I should have index cards and a proper plot all planned.

Oh, I could spend pages answering this! You are not doing it wrong!! There's a weird pressure to plan books and many, many writers I know do not. The great wonderful advantage to making it up as you go along is that you will stumble into places that surprise you (I did not know what the deal was with Joseph and when people describe it as eerie it was very eerie for me too!). Robert Frost has this great quote: "No surprise for the writer, no surprise for the reader." Which to me means you have to go launch into the soupy unknown with your little flickery lamp and later we will follow you and see what you find there. Toss the cards!

mymuchness Wed 02-Nov-11 21:40:25

p.s I was convinced he was teleporting or time travelling! Would never have guessed he was changing into objects..!
thanks for answering our questions!

MegnMog Wed 02-Nov-11 21:41:24

I found Joseph's retreat from the world incredibly moving. Is Joseph's gift that he picks up people's emotions through touch, or is it by just being around them? Does he try to cope by disappearing or merging with objects that have no feelings as a way of avoiding other people's feelings and feeling nothing for a while?

AimeeBender Wed 02-Nov-11 21:41:28

southlondonlady

Hi Aimee, I really enjoyed the book. George is a lovely character, we're you tempted to have him and Rose get together? It was more realistic I think that they didn't!

This all makes me want to come to London. It's fun, doing this.
I think that was sparked by your 'southlondonlady' name. Great city.

Anyway, thank you! I was tempted, but I knew that it was unlikely. She just in no way seemed ready. He was so much more connected to others than she was and she's on her way but he was ready to get close to someone.

LynnCSchreiber Wed 02-Nov-11 21:42:48

Thank you so much for that answer.

OliviaMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 02-Nov-11 21:42:52

Thanks for answering my q's Aimee. smile

MmeLindor Perhaps the cards and plot planned on the wall is procrastination of kinds??

For those (like me) who are scared witless of the soupy unknown (that phrase gave me goosebumps btw)

AimeeBender Wed 02-Nov-11 21:42:54

Mrsoverreaction

BodyofEeyore and Aimee:
Yes I love the line about the negative salad. This has also really made me think about projecting feelings, such as when I say to DH, "DD has been a bit grumbly today" and then, reflecting on that, I've realised that I've been the grumbly one and wondering how much my emotions affect her behaviour. A lot I think!

Exactly! What felt crucial to me was that Rose wasn't tasting the feelings the person was aware of-- she was tasting the unconscious/unknown/tucked away feelings that do creep in outside of our awareness. And when she'd ask her mom, 'are you sad?' her mom said no. But it was kind of obvious that she was unhappy.

AimeeBender Wed 02-Nov-11 21:44:49

NYmomma

Thanks for answering all of my questions, Aimee. I'm a fan of the understated, so I enjoyed having to fill in the blanks with Joseph and whatever Rose didn't know. I liked the room that the narrator gives to the reader, and I think that must be hard as a writer. You want to tell the reader everything to make sure they're getting what you're trying to express, so you must have had to be quite restrained. You say a lot by not saying too much--if that makes sense. I enjoyed that power as a reader.

Thanks, NY-- I really appreciate it. Truth is, though, I'm not holding back-- I'm stepping away from meaning too and trying to just convey a feeling. Am trying to shut down the analytical side of my brain. And I do trust that if I make the scene solid enough, then meaning will creep in at some point, but maybe not right away. In fact, I think it can be a disadvantage if I fully understand the book I'm writing. Then it's all unpacked already, you know?

AimeeBender Wed 02-Nov-11 21:47:13

mymuchness

I think I wanted to know 'why' Joseph behaved the way he did... was it down to his reaction to his mothers affair, why did he do what he did? Plus what significance did the door in his room have...? Was it supposed to represent a way of getting out...?? what was special about that particular chair that made him ring his grandmother..?

Hi there, good questions. I guess the way I think of it is that he was somehow overwhelmed. He was her point of guidance, even as a baby, and it was too much for him. The splinter removal being a way for him to exit her body, literally. The door-- I think the mom built it in the hopes that he would behave like a 'normal' teen and sneak out but he wasn't one to sneak out-- he left in a much more insidious/disconnected way. But of course the person who ended up sneaking out that door was likely... her.
And that chair-- I'm not sure, but it felt useful to me that it was machine made, also a chair like his mom made but not one of her chairs, and from the detached grandma.

AimeeBender Wed 02-Nov-11 21:47:49

mymuchness

p.s I was convinced he was teleporting or time travelling! Would never have guessed he was changing into objects..!
thanks for answering our questions!

My pleasure! Others have said that too and I'm fine with that, but it's definitely a more hopeful read.

TheMonster Wed 02-Nov-11 21:48:55

It's certainly food for thought, MrsOverreaction. Perhaps that's an apt phrase, given the book's subject.

With regard to ebooks and Kindles, I am not interested in getting one. I love the physicality of a book. I guess that's why I go for CDs and not MP3s.

Aimee, why the chair? Why that chair? Why not another piece of furniture?

And, if her brother can turn into a chair, could Rose turn into food one day?

AimeeBender Wed 02-Nov-11 21:49:11

MegnMog

I found Joseph's retreat from the world incredibly moving. Is Joseph's gift that he picks up people's emotions through touch, or is it by just being around them? Does he try to cope by disappearing or merging with objects that have no feelings as a way of avoiding other people's feelings and feeling nothing for a while?

Thanks, Megn-- I'm so glad. I'm not really sure what his gift was, but I imagine he was inundated and had no limits like Rose did by choosing her meals. He was, possibly, more porous, in that way. And yes-- what you say about disappearing/merging with objects rings very right to me.

What are you reading at the moment?

And are you working on another book?

TheMonster Wed 02-Nov-11 21:50:03

I just thought he was off doing runners!

AimeeBender Wed 02-Nov-11 21:51:14

OliviaMumsnet

Thanks for answering my q's Aimee. smile

MmeLindor Perhaps the cards and plot planned on the wall is procrastination of kinds??

For those (like me) who are scared witless of the soupy unknown (that phrase gave me goosebumps btw)

My pleasure. Happy about the goosebumps. I think we are all (or most?) terrified of that soupy unknown but of course it is around us and part of our lives constantly! So writing, in a way, can be an exercise in exploring it. That's why I think if people want to write they should write, and publishing is a side dish.

southlondonlady Wed 02-Nov-11 21:53:11

Great questions & answers so far! If Joseph had managed to get into college with George do you think things would have been different for him?

AimeeBender Wed 02-Nov-11 21:53:23

BodyOfEeyore

It's certainly food for thought, MrsOverreaction. Perhaps that's an apt phrase, given the book's subject.

With regard to ebooks and Kindles, I am not interested in getting one. I love the physicality of a book. I guess that's why I go for CDs and not MP3s.

Aimee, why the chair? Why that chair? Why not another piece of furniture?

And, if her brother can turn into a chair, could Rose turn into food one day?

Good question! In a way, doesn't she? When she tastes the factory, isn't she kind of seeing in herself the facets she doesn't want to see? It's not turning into food, but it's seeing herself reflected in food....

Also I don't think she'd want to leave as much as he wanted to leave.

That chair-- I guess it goes back to it being this ordinary object. Kind of a way to pay tribute to his mother and also rebel. If he'd picked a chair made by her, it would've been total absorption into her, in a way. But this was an exit for him, albeit a kind of brutal one.

Mrsoverreaction Wed 02-Nov-11 21:53:49

Very clever, BodyofEeyore! And yes, I wondered why Joseph's skill enabled him to make actual physical changes, whereas Rose's didn't. Is it because he worked so hard at it over the years? After all, he's clearly a physics whizz and very focused on his skill; was he trying to explore the possibilities and boundaries of his particular skill?

mymuchness Wed 02-Nov-11 21:54:07

I found the comment about sensitivity really interesting - I thought that Rose and Joseph particularly have this kind of empathy with others but EXTREME empathy.
Do you consider yourself to be a particularly empathic friend or do you see disadvantages in very close connections??

LynnCSchreiber Wed 02-Nov-11 21:55:10

Olivia
ooh, good point. I am the master of procrastination.

AimeeBender Wed 02-Nov-11 21:55:26

TillyBookClub

What are you reading at the moment?

And are you working on another book?

Working away, and it looks like mostly short stories at the moment but I do have some little starts of what could be another novel. It takes me awhile to find a novel! And I really like writing stories, too.

Reading-- just read and reviewed Helen Oyeyemi's Mr. Fox-- so good! And am rereading Hans Christian Andersen for a fairy tale class I teach tomorrow. I love rereading those. The students are always shocked to discover how the real "Little Mermaid" ends.

AimeeBender Wed 02-Nov-11 21:56:19

southlondonlady

Great questions & answers so far! If Joseph had managed to get into college with George do you think things would have been different for him?

Thank you! Possibly-- I sort of imagine George being someone who would've checked on him in his dorm room so he couldn't totally isolate. But at some point George had to move on, so maybe it was inevitable and just would've been delayed.

NYmomma Wed 02-Nov-11 21:56:21

"In fact, I think it can be a disadvantage if I fully understand the book I'm writing. Then it's all unpacked already, you know?"

I agree--because then the book isn't overly prescriptive.

I just want to add that I love the characters of Rose & George especially because they're so unconventional. Rose doesn't care particularly about having a pack of friends, she doesn't go to university, she doesn't move out of her family home as soon as she can. She seems very connected to herself; she knows herself well, as does her brother. Actually, all of the characters know themselves well even if they can't communicate that knowledge to each other. I love that you've written different characters & that they don't aspire to be status quote; they're not wishing they could be "normal." I'd love my daughter, when she's much older, to read this book and see that everyone doesn't have to/want to conform. So thank you as a parent!

Thank you for answering my question. Now you have answered it, I cant believe I missed it. I loved the way the book allowed me to empathise with Rose, in that there are certain feelings / emotions in people I feel/ sense which makes me uncomfortable. I can't always stop thinking about them, its almost like a sensory overload. Interestingly I liked the way my emotions conflicted in respect of Joseph. I felt consfused and frustrated that he shut himself of,f but at the same time envied the fact that he could find peace in escaping from world when it all got too much.

Help, that hour went by in a heartbeat.

Aimee, are you happy to answer the few remaining questions? And then we'll let you get back to your glass of wine/supper/tea (what time is it for you in LA?)

AimeeBender Wed 02-Nov-11 21:57:05

Mrsoverreaction

Very clever, BodyofEeyore! And yes, I wondered why Joseph's skill enabled him to make actual physical changes, whereas Rose's didn't. Is it because he worked so hard at it over the years? After all, he's clearly a physics whizz and very focused on his skill; was he trying to explore the possibilities and boundaries of his particular skill?

Yes, I think so-- that he knew something molecularily that Rose couldn't. So he did have a certain kind of amazing skill this way, and George sort of knew it and was mad that he wasn't sharing it.

LynnCSchreiber Wed 02-Nov-11 21:58:56

I read the book on my Kindle, by the way. It was one of the first books that I read on it, and it sold me on the idea. I read about the book somewhere, went straight to Amazon and downloaded it. The instantaneous gratification is fabulous (and I buy many many more books because of the temptation).

AimeeBender Wed 02-Nov-11 21:58:57

mymuchness

I found the comment about sensitivity really interesting - I thought that Rose and Joseph particularly have this kind of empathy with others but EXTREME empathy.
Do you consider yourself to be a particularly empathic friend or do you see disadvantages in very close connections??

Extreme empathy, yes. I do think of myself as empathic and I value that but it can be tricky at times-- I can forget how I am feeling or tune out to get a break. Apparently I was pretty tuned into adults and others as a kid but I also daydreamed A LOT and I imagine it was also a way to get a little headspace to myself. Also of course sometimes I am totally empathically off and miss things completely.

AimeeBender Wed 02-Nov-11 21:59:45

NYmomma

"In fact, I think it can be a disadvantage if I fully understand the book I'm writing. Then it's all unpacked already, you know?"

I agree--because then the book isn't overly prescriptive.

I just want to add that I love the characters of Rose & George especially because they're so unconventional. Rose doesn't care particularly about having a pack of friends, she doesn't go to university, she doesn't move out of her family home as soon as she can. She seems very connected to herself; she knows herself well, as does her brother. Actually, all of the characters know themselves well even if they can't communicate that knowledge to each other. I love that you've written different characters & that they don't aspire to be status quote; they're not wishing they could be "normal." I'd love my daughter, when she's much older, to read this book and see that everyone doesn't have to/want to conform. So thank you as a parent!

So nice to hear! Thanks so much. I'm really glad to hear it.

AimeeBender Wed 02-Nov-11 22:01:57

oldenglishspangles

Thank you for answering my question. Now you have answered it, I cant believe I missed it. I loved the way the book allowed me to empathise with Rose, in that there are certain feelings / emotions in people I feel/ sense which makes me uncomfortable. I can't always stop thinking about them, its almost like a sensory overload. Interestingly I liked the way my emotions conflicted in respect of Joseph. I felt consfused and frustrated that he shut himself of,f but at the same time envied the fact that he could find peace in escaping from world when it all got too much.

What a great comment-- thank you. That's exactly what I meant-- sensory overload. It is part of what makes you you, and also can be a burden. Exactly. A woman I know said she got to the end of the book and said, "Ah! I am a chair, too!" and was a little overwhelmed by the thought and it was unbelievably meaningful to hear. Maybe part of sensitivity is having a little chair/escape inside, and it's complicated to figure out when that's ok and when it's a retreat or removal from the world in a less helpful way. Complicated. I don't have clear answers here.

AimeeBender Wed 02-Nov-11 22:03:05

TillyBookClub

Help, that hour went by in a heartbeat.

Aimee, are you happy to answer the few remaining questions? And then we'll let you get back to your glass of wine/supper/tea (what time is it for you in LA?)

Yes! Happy to. I think I got them all but let me know if you see some... it was a true pleasure doing this, thank you and thanks for all the great questions. Yes-- 3pm in LA-- sunny still outside. Have a good night across the Atlantic.

Mrsoverreaction Wed 02-Nov-11 22:03:35

Fabulous comments, questions and answers. Thanks so much Aimee and all other posters; have enjoyed reading everyone's insightful and thought provoking comments. And makes a change from other useless tosh I'd often be looking at on internet! ;-)

I think that's everyone's messages answered... thanks to everyone for a fantastic discussion and apologies if we have missed any of your questions...

Aimee, it has been a truly enlightening evening - thank you so much for your illuminating answers and letting us in on your creative process. As mentioned already, your description of a 'spectrum of sensitivity' has crystallised the book for me. I'm looking forward to re-reading it already.

Good luck with the next novel and can't wait to see what you write next.

Many thanks again...

mymuchness Wed 02-Nov-11 22:07:44

Thanks so much !! Loved this experience!

AimeeBender Wed 02-Nov-11 22:08:41

TillyBookClub

I think that's everyone's messages answered... thanks to everyone for a fantastic discussion and apologies if we have missed any of your questions...

Aimee, it has been a truly enlightening evening - thank you so much for your illuminating answers and letting us in on your creative process. As mentioned already, your description of a 'spectrum of sensitivity' has crystallised the book for me. I'm looking forward to re-reading it already.

Good luck with the next novel and can't wait to see what you write next.

Many thanks again...

Thanks to you too. I enjoyed it lots.

TheMonster Wed 02-Nov-11 22:10:43

Thank you, Aimee. It's been an honour to 'speak' to the author of such a thought-provoking book.

I have been madly trying to get colleagues to give it a read so I can chat about it, so this experience has been great.

LynnCSchreiber Wed 02-Nov-11 22:20:10

Yes, thanks from me too, Aimee, for a fascinating webchat.

gailforce1 Thu 03-Nov-11 17:34:11

Tilly Another great bookclub evening - thank you!

I think that this year, with one exception, the books have been well chosen and the discussions have been excellent. I really enjoy being able to look back over the chats as I cannot get to a book club in RL so am grateful for this opportunity.
Have just seen the thread for the November book and have e mailed for my free copy - looks very interesting.

Gethsemane Tue 15-Nov-11 19:27:39

This was a very readable book. Enjoyable, but left me wondering what the point of a couple of strands of the story line were for - they didn't seem to have any conclusion (e.g. the Dad and his dislike of hospitals). Perhaps I missed the point.....

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