Book Buzz: The Butterfly Lampshade by Aimee Bender

[A] poignant novel of love and mental illness.Barbara VanDenburgh



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 incidentsher discovery of a desiccated beetle from a school paper, and a bouquet of dried roses from some curtains. Her recall is exactshe 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.

Aimee Bender’s Latest Is a Proustian Reverie.  A surrealist memory box of a novel. . . Its particular quality of stillness hums with so much mystery and intensity that the book never feels static.
Kevin Brockmeier, The New York Times Book Review

The Butterfly Lampshade by Aimee Bender

304 Pages

ISBN 9780385534871


Aimee Bender is the author of the novels The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake--a New York Times bestseller--and An Invisible Sign of My Own and of the collections The Girl in the Flammable Skirt, Willful Creatures, and The Color Master. Her works have been widely anthologized and have been translated into sixteen languages. She lives in Los Angeles.



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