Aimee Bender first published her short story “The Rememberer” in the Missouri Review in 1997 and a year later it was republished in her first collection of short stories, The Girl in the Flammable Skirt. The story is striking and memorable by virtue of its original conceit: a man undergoing de-evolution as he transforms from man to ape to turtle all situated within an otherwise everyday reality. The shock of the outlandish within the world of the mundane serves to classify Bender’s story directly within the genre of magic realism most famously represented by the works of Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
Ultimately, the outlandish depiction of de-evolution of the man takes on a surprising thematic relevance as the focus of the story is not really on the man, but on his girlfriend. The gradual loss of cognitive functioning followed by physical impairment takes on the unexpected and undeniable emotional tenor of people having to take care of loved ones as battle dementia or Alzheimer’s.