The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake

posted Monday June 7th, 2010

On my to-do list these days, among other things:

1. Amass a pile of summer books (with the goal of actually reading something longer than a blog post by August).

2. Plan Annabelle’s birthday party.

Oddly, the two have intersected.

At the top of my summer reading list is a book I keep seeing mentioned in the magazines. Yesterday I heard the author, Aimee Bender, interviewed on Weekend Edition and before day’s end, I’d dragged the girls (not so unwillingly) to the bookstore.

Now I’m savoring this book — examining the cover, reading the rave reviews on the back and the author’s bio on the inside flap, seeing how long I can hold out before I read it, because like many things in life (including cake) I’m concerned the book itself can’t possibly be as good as the idea of it.

And then there’s the intersection of book and life. I’m a little afraid to see what happens in this story.

The protaganist of “The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake” is Rose, who, on the occasion of her 9th birthday, tastes her mother’s homemade lemon cake and suddenly realizes she can taste the emotions of the person who has prepared her food.

This, as I’m getting ready to choose a recipe for Annabelle’s birthday cake. For her 9th birthday. Remember, I would have named this kid Rose if it weren’t for the fact that I’d already used my favorite name on the dog.


And it’s not like I can just get a Safeway cake, or even splurge on Sprinkles cupcakes. I’ve already been told that I’m to bake. On the morning of Sophie’s birthday party last month, I had just taken the pink bakery boxes out of the refrigerator and balanced them on the table, ready to struggle with the Scotch tape, when Annabelle burst into the kitchen and announced, “You know, you really should have baked cupcakes for Sophie yourself!”

This is not a judgemental kid. Well, not a mouthy one, not usually. I promised I’d bake her 9th birthday cake myself. Now I’ve got this book weighing heavily on my shelf.

Is the universe — or Aimee Bender — trying to tell me something?

I wonder what neurotic tastes like?

At least Annabelle has requested chocolate cake, not lemon. And maybe I’ll read that non-fiction book about charter schools and national education policy first.

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Tags: Filed under: birthday parties by Amysilverman

3 Responses to “The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake”

  1. I smell the title of a book…”I wonder what Neurotic tastes like” by Amy Silverman

  2. Yes Amy, I love the idea of a whole book from you and Heather has suggested a fabulous title “I wonder what Neurotic tastes like”. I’m ordering the lemon cake book NOW! Growing up, my mother and my aunt both baked a pound cake from the same recipe. My sister and I prefered my aunt’s cake to the one mom made and my cousins loved mom’s cake… Still true to this day. And, the cakes taste nothing alike.

  3. I just scored the Aimee Bender book from the new book shelf at the library. I am very excited about this.

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