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Safe as Houses (Iowa Short Fiction Award) Paperback – October 1, 2012
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“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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All the stories are great, but "Free Ham" is my favorite, with a dinosaur fire, a dog named Strudel, a ham that may or may not have luggage, and a father just out of reach.
Bertino sees the world a bit sideways and offers her readers generous descriptions of the everyday made special and new. And sometimes she makes the special seem everyday, like bringing Bob Dylan home for Thanksgiving dinner.
So I have another favorite, "Carry Me Home, Sisters of Saint Joseph." Because sometimes, a little boy with a bowl haircut, a tomato garden, a bunch of nuns, and a few extra rainbow stickers can make everything right with the world.
This collection of stories, which, in truth, are all my favorites, will make your life better.
You feel like a kid again. It's incredible.
As striking a book of short stories, let alone a debut, that I've ever read. Thank you, Ms. Bertino.