‘Quiet Please’ by Aimee Bender


Quiet Please by Aimee Bender, 1998

The magic trick:

Pushing a story into subject matter that most authors wouldn’t touch

Is it brave to dive into a topic with words and desires that most writers wouldn’t dare string together? Or is it just another form of dodging the issue?

I’m not sure I have an answer on that one. But I can say without doubt that in “Quiet Please,” Bender goes places that most writers don’t tread. This story is filthy. Filthy. Filthy. Filthy.

From the very start, we see that this is not your grandmother’s literature.

It’s not for nothing, though. There is a core of emotion and meaning here.

The librarian in this story is using a comically absurd sex romp to escape the reality of her father’s death. And you know, I’m not sure how effective or interesting the story itself is in exploring that issue. But the mere setup is enough to make it memorable. That’s one hell of a Freudian conundrum. And that’s quite a trick on Bender’s part.

The selection:

The woman is a librarian and today her father has died. She got a phone call from her weeping mother in the morning, threw up and then dressed for work. Sitting at her desk with her back very straight, she asks the young man very politely, the one who always comes into the library to check out bestsellers, asks him when it was he last got laid. He lets out a weird sound and she says shhh, this is a library. She has her hair back and the glasses on but everyone has a librarian fantasy, and she is truly a babe beneath.

I have a fantasy, he says, of a librarian.


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