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The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake

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    Today is a day of great sadness in the literary world. While I was not a personal friend of Amy Bender, she touched me on a personal and emotional level. Her death came unexpectedly and as I watched the story unfold on the news I felt a deep sense of grief. She was an author who understood the depth of feelings and portrayed it magnificently in The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake. I sat at her funeral service looking around at the friends and family who were all lucky enough to be in her day to day life. As a young child I used food to cope with my emotions.

    At the time I didn’t understand why in fact it didn’t connect until I had read her novel but rich decadent food gave me a way to escape from my life As I read her obituary and listened to the speakers at her funeral I was embarrassed for her as they did her little justice as you can see below. Where are the declarations of her accomplishments? Her creative writing workshop or the prizes she won? Those who spoke at the funeral shared tales of her childhood experiences and short stores to bring light to the situation.

    None did her justice. In my mind she was one of the greatest writes of all time and these stories were not meeting my expectations. I went home and wrote my own paper to hand deliver to her grave the following day where she lay alone, next to an empty plot intended for her widower. BENDER, AIMEE Beloved daughter and sister of 2 passed away on October 10, 2012. She was born on June 28, 1969 in California. Aimee taught creative writing at The University of Southern California.

    Aimee received her undergraduate degree from the University of California at San Diego, and a Master of Fine Arts from the distinguished creative writing MFA program at University of California at Irvine. Aimee Lived in Los Angelos California. Aimee Bender is the author of 4 books. Aimee is also leaving behind many colleagues, friends and students. She will be greatly missed. Visitation is planned for Sunday, October 14, 2012 from 1:00 – 4:00 p. m. at Chaney-Bryant Funeral Director’s.

    The memorial service will be 2:00 pm on Monday, October 15, 2012 at the Chaney-Bryant Funeral Director’s Cascade Chapel. Food is used every day to bring people together. From the simple spaghetti meal served at the family dinner table to the lavish holiday feasts we share with distant relatives. From a sweet bag of Oreos shared with a friend to a heart shaped box of chocolates given as a gift to a lover. Each may have its own individual meaning and purpose; however the common theme is communication.

    As the authors of The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake and All Seven Deadly Sins Committed at Church Bake Sale explore the emotions of humans in their most primeval ritual we can deduce that not every meal provides the comfort one might be seeking. The person seeking nourishment might, in the end, starve due to lack of sincerity. The works of Aimee Bender do in fact have much more depth than the article posted by The Onion. While Bender seems to use her food imagery as a way to gain insight into character’s personality; The Onion uses food as a reason people want to compete and rise above one another despite the intention of raising money.

    Food is a carrier of feelings. As Bender herself said, “I guess I do think of food as a way that we care for each other, and I know for myself sometimes when I make a nice meal, it’s clearly a way of communicating, of giving, of wanting to reach out, to please and delight the other person. And when rushed and distracted, I will burn myself, or I’ll get impatient, and it has a very different feel. ” (Parker) Both stories being from the first person narrative, Rose’s point of view in The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake is especially exciting as it allows her to gain insight as to the baker’s feelings.

    With first person narrative it is generally difficult to understand the emotions of the other characters. While the feelings are so often that of sadness or animosity she cannot enjoy her gift but it gives her an opportunity to understand people the way they are. She is forced to accept the people around her as she chokes down their creations. In All Seven Deadly Sins Committed at Church Bake Sale the fictional newsman reports his own interpretations on the bakers, not through their food but the words that come out of their mouth.

    One might perceive this as a more honest opinion but you must question his accurate description of their feelings despite their outward signs of gluttony, wrath and pride. Although his interpretations are on a macro level he does not have the intuition that Rose carries with her. It does not seem to be his intention to accept these people and he judges them very harshly creating a sort of hypocrisy. Rose wants to love and understand her family. To the point it makes her ill. It is hard to understand why Rose failed to develop her skill to her advantage sooner.

    She seems to linger on the worse possible feelings. At the Bake Sale the news reporter does the same yet he is not forced to deal with this situation on a daily basis. One might shudder at the idea of Rose attending the church bake sale! This environment is one she would shriek away from. While she might not find as many examples of sinful behavior she might very well taste the wrath and envy baked into Georgia Brandt’s Blondies. However her depth of perception would more likely discover Ms. Brandt’s a need for admiration and belonging, a wantonness to “fit in” at church events.

    Rose seems disenchanted and seems to view her parent’s feelings as symptoms of a suburban wasteland. As she further identifies with regional flavors despite their origin or a farm or factory Bender shows us that our melting pot has festered into a bubbling cauldron of over processed garbage. From Rose’s young perspective she cannot understand this however over the years she begins to see it. She is forced to accept everyone’s feelings of indifference and only in the end does she learn how to control that through visiting various restaurants.

    While my reflections of Aimee Bender are fiction it is an example of how she touches people due to her deep understanding of feelings and a young girls struggle to understand not only her own but those around her. As in the article by The Onion food is used as a vehicle to tell a story of deep feelings and emotions. It is the one thing we all have in common. To sit, eat and ponder our reflections.

    Works Cited

    Bender, Amy. The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake. Double Day: New York, 2010. Bender, Amy. http://www. lammableskirt. com/newbook. html. A Kind of Flag Planting. Layden, Sarah. Guernica. Ed. Michael Archer. 15 Nov 2000. http://www. guernicamag. com/interviews/bender_11_15_10/. The Onion. “All Seven Deadly Sins Committed at Church Bake Sale. ” 2007. Back to the Lake. Ed. Thomas Cooley. 2nd ed. New York: Norton, 2012. 190-92. Print. Surreal Meals: An Interview with Aimee Bender. Parker, Allison. Leite’sCulinaria. com. 14 Oct 2010. http://leitesculinaria. com/55819/writings-aimee-bender-interview. html

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