Somewhere between “I'll make you eat those words” and “Let's talk about feelings” lies the metaphysical meat of modern surrealist Aimee Bender, who discusses and signs The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake. Her new novel centers around 9-year-old Rose Edelstein and the peculiar superpower she gains after eating a slice of her mother's lemon-chocolate cake: She can taste her mom's emotions with each bite. Her talent expands to food made for her by friends and strangers alike, and before you can say “empathy deficit disorder,” her life rockets to the existential stratosphere in this strange and poignant story of urban sensitivity in world that works hard to eliminate sympathy, understanding and appreciating one's own odd gifts. If you've ever wondered why people have such a hard time looking in strangers' eyes as they walk down the street, this book, hard as it may be to face, is for you.

Tue., June 29, 7 p.m., 2010

LA Weekly