NYRB Classics collector. Reads anything, so long as it's good. Sometimes historian. Frequently grumpy: you've been warned. Also at aliceunderskies.tumblr.com.
Oh, what a disappointment of a book. In addition to aggravating formatting issues (lack of quotation marks without a very good reason is always an annoyance), this book had a serious case of plot ambivalence. I wish Bender had just made up her mind about what she wanted her book to be. Is it a full-on speculative fiction, really delving into the nature and implications of these powers and how each child deals with them differently? Or shall it stick to the bounds of literary-magical fiction, a family drama with lots of lushly described poetic/psychoanalytical foodie rhapsodies? Trying to be both, "Particular Sadness" failed at doing either really well: the family drama stuff fizzles quietly in the background without ever resolving itself or doing much, while the scifi/spec-fic aspects muddle about inconclusively, providing more questions than answers. Rarely do I wish that a work is shorter, but in this case the idea, as it stands, was unable to hold up a work of this length. Wholly unsatisfying.