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VIRTUAL: Aimee Bender in conversation with Ploi Pirapokin / The Butterfly Lampshade
August 5 @ 5:30 pm - 7:30 pm
Booksmith and The Bindery are thrilled to host a virtual event with Aimee Bender for her new novel, The Butterfly Lampshade, her first since New York Times bestseller The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake came out in 2010. She’ll be in conversation with Ploi Pirapokin. Please join us!
> This is a ticketed event – tickets can be purchased in advance here. Tickets are only $5 and can be applied toward the purchase of The Butterfly Lampshade; if you purchase the book from us, there’s no need to buy a ticket (but if you decide during the event you want a copy of the book we’ll be happy to refund your $5 ticket). We will send connection information to ticket/book holders the day before the event.
On the night her single mother is taken to a mental hospital after a psychotic episode, eight year-old Francie is staying with her babysitter, waiting to take the train to Los Angeles to go live with her aunt and uncle. There is a lovely lamp next to the couch on which she’s sleeping, the shade adorned with butterflies. When she wakes, Francie spies a dead butterfly, exactly matching the ones on the lamp, floating in a glass of water. She drinks it before the babysitter can see.
Twenty years later, Francie is compelled to make sense of that moment, and two other incidents — her discovery of a desiccated beetle from a school paper, and a bouquet of dried roses from some curtains. Her recall is exact — she is sure these things happened. But despite her certainty, she wrestles with the hold these memories maintain over her, and what they say about her own place in the world.
As Francie conjures her past and reduces her engagement with the world to a bare minimum, she begins to question her relationship to reality. The scenes set in Francie’s past glow with the intensity of childhood perception, how physical objects can take on an otherworldly power. The question for Francie is, What do these events signify? And does this power survive childhood?
Told in the lush, lilting prose that led the San Francisco Chronicle to say Aimee Bender is “a writer who makes you grateful for the very existence of language,” The Butterfly Lampshade is a heartfelt and heartbreaking examination of the sometimes overwhelming power of the material world, and a broken love between mother and child.
Ploi Pirapokin is the Nonfiction Editor at Newfound Journal and the co-editor of The Greenest Gecko: An Anthology of New Asian Fantasy forthcoming from Wesleyan University Press in 2021. Her work is featured in Tor.com, Apogee Journal, The Offing, The Bellingham Review, Fiction International, and more. She lives in San Francisco.