8 Paperbacks to Pick Up—and Pass On
You can't take an e-reader on a pool raft and you don't want
to lug a hardcover around in your beach bag—which is why we love
paperbacks. Here's the best of the crop to kick off summer 2014.
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The Color Master
In the lively pages of Aimee Bender's dazzlingly dreamlike new story collection, The Color Master,
Asian tigers split their skins and are mended by specially trained
seamstresses; a woman who is "ugly, by human standards," falls in love
with a man-eating giant she meets in a tavern; and random gifts,
including cans of lobster bisque, materialize out of thin air, perhaps
delivered by ghosts. These fantastical elements season the soup of
Bender's savory and sublime human sagas. Though we journey into the
author's strange worlds without a map, her particular brand of magical
realism is so deeply rooted in American middle-class life that even her
most exotic landscapes feel as familiar and well-lit as the local mall.
Her characters crave work or words or one another. In "The Devourings,"
the aforementioned giant accidentally consumes his own children. In the
first story, "Appleless," a narrator observes: "I once knew a girl who
wouldn't eat apples.... She didn't even like to look at them.... It's
unsettling to meet people who don't eat apples." So many of Bender's
sentences both settle and unsettle, and deserve to be read aloud for
— Bonnie Jo Campbell