House of Bender: A short story

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Did you know, when you started the story, what would transpire between them? AB: No—it took many forms. I worked on this story for a long time, and I have ten drafts of it on my computer. One is a horror version, where the ring is something Howard did hunt down to find, as if he were tracking her, as if he were this creature made to stop her. But it seemed too much about her, too paranoid, and I wanted Howard to have his own reason for the ring.

So then I opened a new file and wrote it in a way that was less overtly scary, and that version seemed to hold together better. Going into a house is worrisome!


WA: I love the way Arlene goes from being a figure of gentle ridicule to almost a role model for Claire. Do you see more of yourself in Arlene, or in Claire? AB: Good question. Definitely both.

A New Short Story by Karen Bender

I made her a little care package and included some of those same items in it—moisturizer. Peanut butter. But it got returned. I sent it again. Returned again. She was nice but seemed overwhelmed by my cheeriness. Although Bender subverts many aspects of the story, they feel like the easy ones—if the woman in the original moves north, the protagonist in the modern rendition moves south. After a few subversions, the reader catches onto the pattern and the story runs out of steam.

Fiction: "Americca" by Aimee Bender |

Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Notify me of new posts by email. Some Modern Vibes Thrown into Blue Beard The story struggles at points to differentiate itself enough from the Blue Beard fairy tale to be exceptional.

Related posts: Zamboni by Rebecca Makkai Not all imperfections in life get smoothed over. A story about crime, objectification, and ethical quandaries, Decor by Rita Issue 71 was released just after the election, so Communications by Sofi Stambo Communications by Sofi Stambo satirizes office politics and the corporate environment.

The piece is short, well-executed, and a fun read Whatever your role or roles, at least be aware of your platform and responsibility. A former teacher and I were discussing these things last week—how the hierarchies of power in the creative writing world resemble the hierarchies of power in Washington. Sure, you might say.

The Neighborhood

What if the answer is no? The cultivation and practice of such virtues is deeply personal and oddly incredibly vexed.

Willful Creatures

We say we are. What kind of culture are we fostering? And who decides? These are such simple questions. I have appreciated hearing from them and discussing these matters; in the current environment, it seems radical resistance may be as simple as noticing the truth. I am deeply grateful to the women named below and for their contributions here—for the time, attention, and courage it takes to help open up a space of such awareness. It happened a long time ago, they say. He was drunk, they say. One of these men is the publisher of a well-regarded imprint.

Another is a poet. Another is a magazine editor. Another is a small press writer. And another. In response, I keep thinking of the story of Bluebeard.

The mind-fuck of Bluebeard, the worst misogynist of all, is that he gives his new wife a set of keys, and tells her she can use them to go anywhere in the castle except, as he dangles it: this key. So, he gives her the means, and then tells her not to use it. It is her great strength that walks her to the forbidden room of bloody bodies, which exposes his dark side, and eventually, after many trials, she is able to escape. Writers who lord power in disturbing ways over other writers set up a similar bind.

If the writer listens, and keeps the secret to herself, she is cutting herself down at the very core of her being. Because writers write. Writers tell. Writers live lives, and then try to communicate something real about these lives. There are no particular obligations to door-opening, and there are many, many types of doors.

  • Karen Bender.
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Open them in whatever way works for you. I did though, not because I was shocked—I did so because this experience very much exists in my body too. How many times did older male mentors take advantage of my interest in their work, their advice, their expertise? Not to mention male colleagues.

House of Bender: A short story House of Bender: A short story
House of Bender: A short story House of Bender: A short story
House of Bender: A short story House of Bender: A short story
House of Bender: A short story House of Bender: A short story
House of Bender: A short story House of Bender: A short story
House of Bender: A short story House of Bender: A short story
House of Bender: A short story House of Bender: A short story
House of Bender: A short story House of Bender: A short story
House of Bender: A short story

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