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Slake After Dark: A Reading With Aimee Bender

Judy L. Wang |
January 13, 2012 | 6:36 p.m. PST

Books Editor


Fiction writer Aimee Bender (Slake)
Fiction writer Aimee Bender (Slake)
When walking into the quaint Atwater Crossing complex, you sense that you’ve immediately crossed the line into a literary realm. People were scattered about the room clutching glasses of wine, swirling the red liquid around casually as they awaited “The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake” writer Aimee Bender to grace the stage. 

On Thursday night, Atwater Crossing was host to Slake After Dark, an event named after its quarterly reader, Slake, headed by former L.A Weekly editors Joe Donnelly and Laurie Ochoa.

Slake was created to highlight the underrated art of storytelling by acting as a collection of memoirs, poems, essays and more. It’s a beautifully bound book that may seem humble, but demands respect in just the artful way it’s designed. 

There are three issues so far and its upcoming fourth issue will feature the work of Bender. 

Bender is Southern California fiction writer whose published works include “The Girl in the Flammable Skirt,” “An Invisible Sign of My Own” and “Willful Creatures.” A graduate of the University of California, Irvine, when Bender isn’t writing she teaches at the University of Southern California. 

The reading was held in small section of the room that was divided by a bar. The stage itself was just a little bigger than a bedroom. Bender read an excerpt from one of her stories called “The Fake Nazi,” which was followed by some questions from Ochoa and the audience. 

In an interview, Bender talked a little bit about her life as a writer:

What is your writing process like?

I work with a two hour a day in the morning routine-- and I can write whatever I want to during that time, including staring at the wall, as long as I stay put.  Also, with novels, at some point there's a stage where I print out all the scenes and spread them all over the floor and walk around for a while.

I personally love hearing stories read out loud. Is that something you consider as you develop your stories?

I do read stories aloud to listen for rhythm and glitches and gaps and going on too long.   It can be a really helpful part of the editing process!  When I read someone like Donald Barthelme, it's so clear that he is incredibly interested in sound and rhythm and it's such a pleasure to read that.

What are some of the biggest challenges you face as a writer? 

The same things, really, as being a person: staying connected to the work, staying open to what's next, not worrying about what it is, allowing things to play out naturally.   

It would seem that Bender is handling the challenges well as the night closed out with warm applause from people who clearly weren’t just fans, but people who connected to her as a writer. 


Reach Books Editor Judy here or follow her on Twitter here

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