An Invisible Sign of My Own: A Novel

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9780385492249: An Invisible Sign of My Own: A Novel

Aimee Bender’s stunning debut collection, The Girl in the Flammable Skirt, proved her to be one of the freshest voices in American fiction. Now, in her first novel, she builds on that early promise.

Mona Gray was ten when her father contracted a mysterious illness and she became a quitter, abandoning each of her talents just as pleasure became intense. The only thing she can’t stop doing is math: She knocks on wood, adds her steps, and multiplies people in the park against one another. When Mona begins teaching math to second-graders, she finds a ready audience. But the difficult and wonderful facts of life keep intruding. She finds herself drawn to the new science teacher, who has an unnerving way of seeing through her intricately built façade. Bender brilliantly directs her characters, giving them unexpected emotional depth and setting them in a calamitous world, both fancifully surreal and startlingly familiar.

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Review:

Aimee Bender's funny, delicately shaded first novel is a constant delight, even at its most warped. An Invisible Sign of My Own tells the story of Mona Gray, a math wiz and a high school track star, whose ordinary childhood comes to pieces when her father is stricken with a mysterious illness. There doesn't seem to be a name for it, but he looks sort of gray and seems frail and unhappy. Whether there's anything really wrong with Mona's dad is unclear, but her fear that he will die, as well as his withdrawal from family life--no more vacations, no running practice with his daughter, no unplanned outings--triggers a corresponding withdrawal in her. Whenever she does well at anything, or starts to enjoy herself, she quits: piano class, dancing lessons, her first boyfriend, running.

I quit dessert to see if I could do it; of course I could; I quit breathing one evening until my lungs overruled; I quit touching my skin, sleeping with both hands under the pillow. When no one was home, I tied ropes around the piano, so that it would take me thirty minutes with scissors to get back to that minuet. Then I hid all the scissors.
Instead of working out her problems, Mona develops a habit of knocking on wood, and sometimes knocks for an hour before getting to sleep. Eating soap is her other dark indulgence: a surefire anti-aphrodisiac that she calls on whenever she feels sexually attracted to a man.

At 20, Mona is recruited to teach math at the local elementary school. To her surprise, she is a brilliant teacher, making addition and subtraction tangible to second graders with a game called Numbers and Materials, in which the students bring in natural or man-made objects that take the form of numbers. When 7-year-old Lisa Venus brings in a zero made of IV tubing from her dying mother's hospital room, Mona recognizes a kindred spirit. But she will have to be healthy herself to help Lisa resist her urge to take on her mother's illness out of grief and loyalty. The complicated connection between children and adults is the underlying theme of this big-hearted novel. However quirky and alarming Bender's methods may seem, An Invisible Sign of My Own is no darker than a fairy tale, and the witch--even if it's the witch within--is reliably vanquished in the end. --Regina Marler

From the Back Cover:

"This mesmerizing novel places a mathematical mind, poet's imagination, and voodoo queen's superstition in an athlete's body and sets to work, in a town stark as a blackboard, on the problem of Death. Pitting axes against angst, kids against cancer, soap against sex, wax numbers against depression, and love against the certainty of the beloved's doom, Aimee Bender nevertheless arrives--with wit, grace, and proof (that math is funny)--at compassion."
--David James Duncan, author of The Brothers K and River Teeth

"Aimee Bender writes in a skillfully minimal way, everything very tight and poignant and sharp and often burning, quick to get to things and out of them, but still providing us with significant characters of emotional depth."
--Stephen Dixon, author of Frog and 30: Pieces of a Novel

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Descrizione libro Anchor, 2001. Paperback. Condizione libro: New. The pages of this book are clean and unmarked. There may be some shelf wear. Codice libro della libreria 109690

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Descrizione libro Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group Inc, United States, 2001. Paperback. Condizione libro: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. Aimee Bender s stunning debut collection, The Girl in the Flammable Skirt, proved her to be one of the freshest voices in American fiction. Now, in her first novel, she builds on that early promise. Mona Gray was ten when her father contracted a mysterious illness and she became a quitter, abandoning each of her talents just as pleasure became intense. The only thing she can t stop doing is math: She knocks on wood, adds her steps, and multiplies people in the park against one another. When Mona begins teaching math to second-graders, she finds a ready audience. But the difficult and wonderful facts of life keep intruding. She finds herself drawn to the new science teacher, who has an unnerving way of seeing through her intricately built facade. Bender brilliantly directs her characters, giving them unexpected emotional depth and setting them in a calamitous world, both fancifully surreal and startlingly familiar. Codice libro della libreria AAS9780385492249

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Descrizione libro Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group Inc, United States, 2001. Paperback. Condizione libro: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. Aimee Bender s stunning debut collection, The Girl in the Flammable Skirt, proved her to be one of the freshest voices in American fiction. Now, in her first novel, she builds on that early promise. Mona Gray was ten when her father contracted a mysterious illness and she became a quitter, abandoning each of her talents just as pleasure became intense. The only thing she can t stop doing is math: She knocks on wood, adds her steps, and multiplies people in the park against one another. When Mona begins teaching math to second-graders, she finds a ready audience. But the difficult and wonderful facts of life keep intruding. She finds herself drawn to the new science teacher, who has an unnerving way of seeing through her intricately built facade. Bender brilliantly directs her characters, giving them unexpected emotional depth and setting them in a calamitous world, both fancifully surreal and startlingly familiar. Codice libro della libreria AAS9780385492249

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Descrizione libro 2001. PAP. Condizione libro: New. New Book. Shipped from US within 10 to 14 business days. Established seller since 2000. Codice libro della libreria VR-9780385492249

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Descrizione libro Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group Inc, United States, 2001. Paperback. Condizione libro: New. Language: English . This book usually ship within 10-15 business days and we will endeavor to dispatch orders quicker than this where possible. Brand New Book. Aimee Bender s stunning debut collection, The Girl in the Flammable Skirt, proved her to be one of the freshest voices in American fiction. Now, in her first novel, she builds on that early promise. Mona Gray was ten when her father contracted a mysterious illness and she became a quitter, abandoning each of her talents just as pleasure became intense. The only thing she can t stop doing is math: She knocks on wood, adds her steps, and multiplies people in the park against one another. When Mona begins teaching math to second-graders, she finds a ready audience. But the difficult and wonderful facts of life keep intruding. She finds herself drawn to the new science teacher, who has an unnerving way of seeing through her intricately built facade. Bender brilliantly directs her characters, giving them unexpected emotional depth and setting them in a calamitous world, both fancifully surreal and startlingly familiar. Codice libro della libreria BTE9780385492249

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