Last Updated on July 29, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 273
Gabriel García Márquez is the preeminent practitioner of magical realism, the genre with which Aimee Bender’s work is often associated. Márquez’s novel One Hundred Years of Solitude (1967) is considered to be one of his finest works.
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Angela Carter is another well-known magical realist. Bender cites “The Company of Wolves,” a retelling of Little Red Riding Hood, as one of her favorite Carter stories. This story can be found in the collection, The Bloody Chamber (1979), which includes Carter’s unique take on several other fairy tales.
Bender cites Transformations (1971), by poet Anne Sexton, as an early influence. Sexton retells familiar fairy tales such as Snow White and Little Red Riding Hood; Sexton’s versions are dark, twisted, and sometimes humorous.
Bender’s first novel, An Invisible Sign of My Own (2000), tells the story of twenty-year-old Mona Gray, who teaches second-grade math. Mona has gradually withdrawn from life since her father began to suffer from an unnamed illness; in helping one of her students cope with tragedy, Mona begins to recover herself.
Willful Creatures, published in 2005, is Bender’s second short story collection. The stories in this collection take a darker turn than those in The Girl in the Flammable Skirt, but the plots are just as surreal, including a couple with pumpkins for heads and a man who buys a miniature man at a pet shop and keeps him in a cage.
Bender’s older sister Karen is also an author. Her debut novel, Like Normal People, tells the story of Ella Rose, an elderly woman, and her daughter Lena, who is retarded and living in a group home.