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Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Third Elevator

I am not alone in loving the work of Aimee Bender. I'm a little disappointed about that, because her voice is so unique, I secretly hoped it would appeal only to me. But no, rejoice! Other people find the magic in these ideas! Other readers savor the indescribable enchantment of these word combinations! There's hope for the world after all!

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake, Aimee Bender's latest and longest, absorbed me for a couple of days. I walked around with the world of that book as a translucent film over my eyes. The real world seemed much less important. It was achingly beautiful, but most of all, it helped me make psychological sense of some of the people in my life.

Less well known, and much shorter, is the also-recent The Third Elevator. This tiny gem comes to us with illustrations by the author. It is a fable about the choices we can make with what we are given, and the notion that there might be something else out there. The swan looks like a cloud, but has heavy moods. He loves a bluebird. Of course these lovers have amazing elemental children, whom they can't control no matter how they try. They live in a land with three elevators, which can take you into the sky, far below the ground, or keep you right here on this level. In this way, the people of the land can visit other levels of living they would not have found otherwise. Each person must make a choice with this new information, and every different choice is the right one for that person. Though these sound like imposingly important themes, this book is very gentle. It's partially the book as object that creates this sense: the cream-colored paper, the small size, the elegant font that invites one to read... now, or later. But it's also the lovely liquid language.

The Third Elevator is published by the small press I mentioned in my Tree/House post on August 22. Its name is Madras Press, and whether my work finds a home there or not, I hope this publisher continues bringing joy to the world of words for a very long and successful time.