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Monday, February 24, 2014

The Rememberer, by Aimee Bender

 All of us are creatures of a day: the rememberer and the remembered alike.

Ben (that's Annie's lover) is experiencing reverse evolution. One day he wakes up a baboon, after a month he becomes a sea turtle, soon he regresses to a  salamander. Next stage will be a unicellular organism or what? The regression rate is tremendous, he is shedding a million years a day. Annie is taking care of him with love, till one day she cannot take it anymore. So she goes to the ocean and leaves him there. Maybe one day he will wash up on shore and tell her about his journey back in history.

It's The Rememberer, the first story from Aimee Bender's The Girl in the Flammable Skirt. It starts in media res, in the midst of things, no explanation is offered, you take it or you don't. It's superbly constructed, and despite the apparent absurdity, it's flawless, the consistency is perfect. Absurd? Think at this: if we accept the Theory of Evolution (I know some don't, but that's not the point), then no logic would impede us to imagine a reverse evolution: after all, it helps us get it.

There is however a hint: the guy was obsessed with the idea that we’re all getting too smart. Our brains are just getting bigger and bigger, and the world dries up and dies when there’s too much thought and not enough heart.  And also he realized that there is no space for anything but dreaming. Seemingly all that followed was in the order of things.

It's my first encounter with Aimee Bender and I must tell you I'm enchanted. To say only that her writing is beautiful would be a misnomer: she's a sorceress.

You can read the story here:

(It happened that today I learned about a Thai-French movie tackling a subject somehow similar, up to a point: a man approaching his death is taking a journey past in history, towards the beginnings of life - hopefully I find a DVD copy or something, and then I will come back here about Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, Cannes Palme d'Or 2011)

(Aimee Bender)



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