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Safe as Houses (Iowa Short Fiction Award) Paperback – October 1, 2012


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Editorial Reviews

Review

“Marie-Helene Bertino’s stories are hilarious and heartbreaking and wildly inventive, and her narrators are endlessly appealing and both fiercely proactive and stubbornly self-defeating. That’s more than enough for me.”—Jim Shepard 



"When have I last read such highly original stories? With a surreal edge and a brilliant dark humor, Safe as Houses’s tales of daughterhood and its mishaps mark a staggeringly good debut."—Deb Olin Unferth, author of Revolution 

About the Author

Marie-Helene Bertino's stories have appeared in The Pushcart Prize AnthologyXXXIII, North American Review, Mississippi Review, Inkwell, The Indiana Review, American Short Fiction, and West Branch. Bertino received a Pushcart Prize in 2007 and a Pushcart Special Mention in 2011. She was chosen as a Center for Fiction NYC Emerging Writer's Fellow in 2011. She hails from Philadelphia and lives in Brooklyn, where for six years she was the associate editor of One Story

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Product Details

  • Series: Iowa Short Fiction Award
  • Paperback: 164 pages
  • Publisher: University Of Iowa Press; 1 edition (October 1, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1609381149
  • ISBN-13: 978-1609381141
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.5 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #225,014 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By beep bop boop on November 19, 2012
Format: Paperback
These stories are perfect little windows (like a house! see what I did there) into human kindness and frailty. The sentence I just wrote feels so small and like it doesn't even begin to scratch what these beautiful, strange pieces are about. Bertino brings readers into a world where aliens fax back facts about humans, where you get over a breakup by working at a convent, where you can go on a date with the idea of your ex-boyfriend. We're lucky to be invited along for the ride.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Chillville, CA on December 16, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is the product of a writer who has yet to hit her stride, but for a debut collection it approaches dazzling. Bertino is quirky and likable if not always original, and her forays into magical realism open every story in the book to that possibility. I was never sure what she would do next, which heightened my enjoyment. If you don't read this one, read the next. She's a writer to watch.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Tim on December 7, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Ms. Bertino shares Lorrie Moore's ability to have you laughing through an entire story, only to discover on reaching the last line that you've been utterly devastated. Whether discussing the bonds of family, friendship or ex-lovers, Ms. Bertino's stories are consistently compelling and a delight to read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Monika on September 19, 2013
Format: Paperback
Safe as Houses is an eclectic collection of short stories, bordering on the wildly strange and fantastical while remaining down-to-earth. That sounds crazy, I know! Yet Bertino somehow manages to make her readers feel her stories are based in reality, even with passages such as: "The name of the planet I'm from does not have an English equivalent. Roughly, it sounds like a cricket hopping onto a plate of rice. I am here to take notes on human beings." Readers never quite reach that surreal, dream-like state that occurs when reading works by Aimee Bender or Haruki Murakami, but the element is still there. This makes for a satisfying collection for those who enjoy a quirky read, but don't want something that is too "out there."

I don't know which story I liked best; I was thrilled by each and every one, all for different reasons. Each story was so unique, really its own entity. Yet there was a common thread pulling the stories together into a collection - that of people interacting, loving and showing kindness to each other, figuring out how to relate to others, trying to understand themselves and their world.

Having read Lungs Full of Noise Tessa Mellas recently, Safe as Houses brought me to this conclusion: The Iowa Short Fiction Award must now and forever be on my watch list. I'm afraid I'll have to go back and read the winners from years past as well.

Such a fantastic collection of short stories, one you'll be glad you added to your reading list.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive any other compensation for this review.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By aggiewriter70 on December 28, 2012
Format: Paperback
Marie-Helene Bertino, "Safe as Houses," University of Iowa Press, ISBN-13 978-1-60938-114-1, ISBN-10: 1-60938-114-9

Looking through the catalog online at[...], the photo of Marie-Helene Bertino's 'Safe as Houses,' caught my attention right away. Abstract in a way, and with bold, yet normal font, 'Safe as Houses,' is anything but plain or normal.

Bertino takes life situations, everyday life situations that we might overlook, and even more, might just push aside, and punches them up, glitters them and the end result are a pack of stories that bring a smile to your face, a giggle to your mind and at the same, can cause you to get mad, sad and be surprised.

Much like life, huh?

A short story can bring more powerful a punch than a well-crafted 300 page novel. And with her stories in 'Safe as Houses,' Bertino deserves the awards she has received.

She weaves each character and each plot so intricately, and gets to the point so quietly that when you end that story, you are flipping through pages wanting more.

What a success!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By lee mynett on January 23, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This author had very strong character development. Each story drew me into the with the first paragraph. I agree with the good reviews that are out.
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