Safe as houses / Marie-Helene Bertino.

Bertino, Marie-Helene [Browse]
Iowa City : University of Iowa Press, ©2012.
126 pages ; 24 cm.


Library of Congress genre(s)
Getty AAT genre
Iowa short fiction award [More in this series]
Summary note
The titular story revolves around an aging English professor who, mourning the loss of his wife, robs other people's homes of their sentimental knick-knacks. In "Free Ham," a young dropout wins a ham after her house burns down and refuses to accept it. "Has my ham done anything wrong?" she asks when the grocery store manager demands that she claim it. In "Carry Me Home, Sisters of Saint Joseph," a failed commercial writer moves into the basement of a convent and inadvertently discovers the secrets of the Sisters of Saint Joseph. A girl, hoping to talk her brother out of enlisting in the army, brings Bob Dylan home for Thanksgiving dinner in the quiet, dreamy "North Of." In "The Idea of Marcel," Emily, a conservative, elegant girl, has dinner with the idea of her ex-boyfriend, Marcel. In a night filled with baffling coincidences, including Marcel having dinner with his idea of Emily, she wonders why we tend to be more in love with ideas than with reality. In and out of the rooms of these gritty, whimsical stories roam troubled, funny people struggling to reconcile their circumstances to some kind of American Ideal and failing, over and over.
  • Free ham
  • Sometimes you break their hearts, sometimes they break yours
  • The idea of marcel
  • North of
  • This is your will to live
  • Great, wondrous
  • Safe as houses
  • Carry me home, sisters of Saint Joseph.
  • 9781609381141 ((paperback ; : acid-free paper))
  • 1609381149 ((paperback ; : acid-free paper))
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