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Aimee Bender: An Invisible Sign of My Own Aimee Bender   An Invisible Sign of My Own  
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Aimee Bender is the rarest of artists; in a derivative world, she's a true original. A child-like sense of wonder, along with a brilliant adult wit, permeates her elegant and artfully minimalist prose. After a sensational collection of stories, The Girl in the Flammable Skirt, Bender returns with her first novel, a beautifully warped look at love, death, and math.

An Invisible Sign of My Own tells the story of Mona Gray, track star extraordinaire and world-class quitter. Mona has a knack for numbers and is recruited for a position at her local elementary school as a math teacher to a group of irrepressible seven-year-olds, despite her tender age of nineteen. Mona's first loves, her constant comfort and philosophy of life, her salvation from despair, are numbers. Numbers help her make sense of the world and bring respite from her anxieties. Ms. Gray excels at getting her students interested in addition and subtraction winning their adoration, but she remains withdrawn from life ever since a mysterious, unidentified illness befell her father years earlier. Only a little girl in Mona's class, Lisa Venus, experiencing the tragedy that Mona most fears, begins to break her out of her shell. When Mona falls for the science teacher Mr. Smith, who has a teaching style as unique as her own and has arms that are covered with chemical burns, romance threatens to turn Mona's world upside-down.

Bender does an impeccable job of drawing characters, especially the young students, bringing all of the unfiltered honesty and raucous energy of youth to life. Aimee Bender is a truly gifted writer who has managed to live up to the promise of her wonderfully inventive collection of stories. An Invisible Sign of My Own is elegantly experimental; daring, yet full of empathy and truth.

In this issue of Bold Type you'll find an exclusive conversation with Aimee Bender and recent Voice Literary Supplement "Writer on the Verge" Alice Sebold, an interview with the author, her original drawings made during the writing of An Invisible Sign of My Own, and an excerpt from the novel.

--Larry Weissman

 
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  Photo credit: Teal Manion

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