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The Butterfly Lampshade (Doubleday)

The first novel in ten years from the author of the beloved New York Times bestseller The Particular Sadness Of Lemon Cake, a luminous, poignant tale of a mother, a daughter, mental illness, and the fluctuating barrier between the mind and the world

On the night her single mother is taken to a mental hospital after a psychotic episode, eight year-old Francie is staying with her babysitter, waiting to take the train to Los Angeles to go live with her aunt and uncle. There is a lovely lamp next to the couch on which she’s sleeping, the shade adorned with butterflies. When she wakes, Francie spies a dead butterfly, exactly matching the ones on the lamp, floating in a glass of water. She drinks it before the babysitter can see.

Twenty years later, Francie is compelled to make sense of that moment, and two other incidents — her discovery of a desiccated beetle from a school paper, and a bouquet of dried roses from some curtains. Her recall is exact — she is sure these things happened. But despite her certainty, she wrestles with the hold these memories maintain over her, and what they say about her own place in the world.

As Francie conjures her past and reduces her engagement with the world to a bare minimum, she begins to question her relationship to reality. The scenes set in Francie’s past glow with the intensity of childhood perception, how physical objects can take on an otherworldly power. The question for Francie is, What do these events signify? And does this power survive childhood?

Told in the lush, lilting prose that led the San Francisco Chronicle to say Aimee Bender is “a writer who makes you grateful for the very existence of language,” The Butterfly Lampshade is a heartfelt and heartbreaking examination of the sometimes overwhelming power of the material world, and a broken love between mother and child.

Aimee Bender is the author of the novels The Color Master, The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake—a New York Times bestseller, An Invisible Sign of My Own, and of the collections The Girl in the Flammable Skirt and Willful Creatures. Her works have been widely anthologized and have been translated into 16 languages. She lives in Los Angeles.

Sarah Shun-lien Bynum is the author of two novels—Ms. Hempel Chronicles, a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award, and Madeleine Is Sleeping, a finalist for the National Book Award and winner of the Janet Heidinger Kafka Prize—and a story collection, Likes, forthcoming in September 2020. Her fiction has appeared in many magazines and anthologies, including The New YorkerPloughsharesTin House, and the Best American Short Stories. The recipient of an O. Henry Award, a Whiting Award, and an NEA Fellowship, she was named one of “20 Under 40” fiction writers by The New Yorker. She lives in Los Angeles.

Event date: 
Tuesday, July 28, 2020 - 6:30pm
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1818 N Vermont Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90027
The Butterfly Lampshade: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780385534871
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Doubleday - July 28th, 2020

The Color Master Cover Image
ISBN: 9780307744197
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Anchor - April 22nd, 2014

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake Cover Image
ISBN: 9780385720960
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Anchor - April 19th, 2011

Willful Creatures Cover Image
ISBN: 9780385720977
Availability: Backordered
Published: Anchor - August 8th, 2006

An Invisible Sign of My Own: A Novel Cover Image
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ISBN: 9780385492249
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: Anchor - July 17th, 2001

The Girl in the Flammable Skirt: Stories Cover Image
ISBN: 9780385492164
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Anchor - August 17th, 1999

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Ms. Hempel Chronicles: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250781345
Availability: Coming Soon - Available for Pre-Order Now
Published: Picador - October 27th, 2020

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Madeleine Is Sleeping: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250781338
Availability: Coming Soon - Available for Pre-Order Now
Published: Picador - October 27th, 2020

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Likes Cover Image
ISBN: 9780374191948
Availability: Coming Soon - Available for Pre-Order Now
Published: Farrar, Straus and Giroux - September 1st, 2020