"Bender's is a unique and compassionate voice, and her debut is a string of jewels."
— Publisher's Weekly
"Thank God for Aimee Bender and her short story collection...She has screamed more life into the short story than anyone since Flannery O'Connor. Bender's stories introduce the world to honest, inspiring, brutal and beautiful people."
"Line by line, the reader is rewarded with a masterful prose style and an artisitc vision that ruthlessly breaks down and dramatizes the arbitary but necessary strategies people employ to keep themselves from never leaving their houses."
— Village Voice
"Aimee Bender is one writer who is shouting clearly and beautifully from the hilltops that our lives are most definitely not ordinary and typical."
— The Denver Post
"Prose so animated it seems almost capable of writing itself."
— The Atlantic Monthly
"Willful Creatures is an essential work that should be required reading for any who delight in deft prose and truly empathetic portraits of the human condition."
— Fort Worth Star-Telegram
"Willful Creatures achieves what many story collections do not: it leaves an emotional impression that transcends the individual stories, but does not erase them. This may explain why her readers are so devoted: we feel as though we've witnessed the miraculous rebirth of the short story."
— Alexis M. Smith for tarpaulinsky.com
The Third Elevator is the story of a swan, a bluebird, the curious family they form together, and the mysterious elevators in the center of their village — one that rises into the sky, one that opens into a forest, and one that descends underground. Other characters include a miner in search of something beyond the walls of his cave, a logger too gentle to chop trees, a team of kleptomaniacal dove nurses, a king with an appetite for turtles, and his queen, the swan’s first owner.
Note: all net proceeds from the sale of this book benefit InsideOUT Writers, an organization that offers free writing classes to students in LA juvenile detention centers. InsideOUT Writers provides positive and empowering experiences using creative writing as a means to foster honest introspection, socially responsible behavior, and to build a foundation for living productive lives.