Originally posted on my blog, A Lovely Bookshelf on the Wall
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.