Stories No One Hopes Are about Them
by A. J. Bermudez
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Pub Date 14 Nov 2022 | Archive Date 14 Nov 2022
University of Iowa Press, University Of Iowa Press
At once playfully dark and slyly hopeful, Stories No One Hopes Are about Them explores convergences of power, privilege, and place. Characters who are ni de aquí, ni de allá—neither from here nor there—straddle competing worlds, disrupt paradigms, and transition from objects of other people’s stories to active subjects and protagonists of their own. Narratives of humanity and environment entwine with nuanced themes of colonization, queerness, and evolution at the forefront. Big things happen in this collection. But it’s also a collection of small intimacies: misremembered names, chipped teeth, and private rituals; unexpected alliances and barely touched knees beneath uniform skirts; minutiae of the natural world; incidents that quietly, achingly, and delightfully transgress the familiar.
“Stories No One Hopes Are about Them is an absolutely brilliant collection, so of the moment formally and politically yet timeless in its pursuit of human contradiction. These stories move across geography, mode, and tone, linked not by common characters or shared locales but by the sly wit and stylistic virtuosity of their author. A. J. Bermudez’s debut left me in awe.”—Anthony Marra, judge, Iowa Short Fiction Award
“In moments I almost hoped these wildly intelligent and wholly electric stories were about me. Was it recognition of those Bermuda Triangle-like moments when what we are running toward becomes what we are running from? Or pure admiration for the simultaneous swagger and patience of Bermudez’s turns of phrase? Maybe it’s the urge to be at the mercy of her formal range, from delightful lists to moments that gesture toward pure myth? It’s all of this, but mostly it’s how these heroes and fools still believe in metaphor as a site of human transformation, if not of our circumstances, then at least of our understanding of how we got from there to here.”—Jenny Browne, author, Fellow Travelers, State of Texas poet laureate
“A. J. Bermudez’s dazzling debut is a riveting collection of stories filled with memorable characters whose acerbic wit in the face of an absurd world haunts and delights. Each incredible story contains a world in miniature brought to the page with maximum impact, revealing a fragile surface that nonetheless is too tempting not to be shattered. There is an exhilarating breadth of characters, events, and places in these stories, showcasing a promising new writer who mixes the daily and the outlandish in a vision that is often wrenching and always surprising.”—Michael Nye, author, All the Castles Burned
“With Stories No One Hopes Are about Them, A. J. Bermudez explores what makes us us. Twenty brief tales poke at our assumptions of who we are and why we make our decisions. These are moments of living laid out over parties, plane tickets, rooms, and lives; they fold, unfold, and refold; paper airplanes cradling small insights. Pause in the frozen moments, breathe in the now of here and what comes next.”—Derek Beaulieu, director of literary arts, Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity
Average rating from 9 members
Stories No One Hopes Are About Them is a thrilling collection. The sentences are fizzy, fast, bright, impeccable, and inventive. And thematically, so many of these stories feel really current, urgent. They're examining what it means to be proximate to money and power--the way these things can be dangerous and unhealthy, but also gorgeous. To travel, to be near glamorous people (even if those people are hollow at the core!) can lead at once to despair and to elation. I love this tension in the writing--danger and beauty intermixed. And I love the writing. A stellar book!
Stories No One Hopes Are About Them by AJ Bermudez is a collection of short stories that should be savored and not rushed through. Characters and situations that demand your attention and your understanding.
I usually use collections, of either short stories or essays, as something handy to pick up when I don't have time to dive back into a longer work. The ideal book of this sort will allow me to read a story or essay then, when I go back to whatever I might be doing, it ferments in my mind, deepening my understanding or raising more questions. Bermudez has put together a collection that matches any I have read for a long time. Each story stayed with me for a while and a couple are with me still.
One thing that struck me about reading these stories was that I didn't feel like I was sprinting through a story that was written simply to get me to the end. I enjoy many stories of that kind, but these made me spend some time with the characters and their situations. Even the much shorter ones. And many had a little nod to the fact that what we just read was but a part of a longer story. Maybe what a character will tell as part of future therapy or what a character is going to miss hearing/learning as a result of dying.
I would certainly recommend this to readers of short stories but I would also recommend this to readers who might shy away from them. I think this collection can rekindle any dying appreciation for the form you might have.
Reviewed from a copy made available by the publisher via NetGalley.
Stories No One Hopes Are about Them is a collection of short stories, with various narratives that don't always show the best there is in humans or nature. After reading each story I did concur with the title of the book because of their darkness. They flowed in a way you would think it stories about just one person, author, A. J. Bermudez, did that brilliantly. Not only are they short stories, but the amount of detail that is expressed in the stories makes you feel like you entered an entirely different space, world, and environment.
Wow. This is a hidden gem if ever I found one in a collection of short stories. Excellent writing of excellent tales. I really look forward to Bermudez future work.
I really appreciate the free ARC for review!!
I am going to keep this nice and short (just like this collection!)...Hands down one of the best reads of the year! Each story stood on its own two feet thanks to Bermudez masterful combination of hilarious irreverence and cynical commentary. Well worth a read if you are even slightly disillusioned about…well, anything.
Thank you to NetGalley, A. J. Bermudez, and University of Iowa Press for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review!
Slow short stories to start but the last few were really good. ‘The Train Speaks’ was particularly poignant, only three pages long. I also liked ‘Orphan Type’ of children in a printing workhouse, it was gripping and terrifying but ‘Totenhaus’ was probably my favourite - a story Edgar Allen Poe would have been proud of. #netgalley
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