Safe as Houses by Marie-Helene Bertino

Safe as Houses

Safe as Houses, the debut story collection of Marie-Helene Bertino, proves that not all homes are shelters. 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 tha...

Details Safe as Houses

TitleSafe as Houses
Release DateOct 1st, 2012
PublisherUniversity Of Iowa Press
GenreShort Stories, Fiction, Short Story Collection, Literary Fiction, Contemporary, Anthologies, Collections, Fantasy, Female Authors, Womens

Reviews Safe as Houses

  • lucky little cat
    From the author of the delightful novel 2 a.m. at the Cat's Pajamas, this is another of those lyrical story collections written by a poet-turned- Looking for a few Good Boys fabulous-fictioneer. And I mean that purely as a compliment. How else to explain the story where a young woman's old college flame announces his presence by sending a flock of hummingbirds to dive-bomb her obnoxious new husband? The story of R.E.M.-loving rebels stuck atten...
  • Dara
    This book is a prime example of why I love short stories--they are bizarre, funny, and devastating. You can't get them out of your head for days after reading them. Highly recommended.
  • Clea M
    The last story made me tear up and made me want to go live in a convent with a bunch of nuns. I don't know how it did that. Each one of these is a little bleak, a lot funny, and pulled at my heart in different ways. Several of them are about depression. I almost never love short stories the way I loved these.
  • Ruby
    best short stories i've read in ages.
  • Amy
    Book: Safe as HousesAuthor:Marie-Helene BertinoPublished:October 2012 by University of Iowa Press, 164 pagesFirst Line:"Growing up, I have dreams that my father sets our house on fire."Genre/Rating:Short stories; 5/5 little boys lugubriously printing the names of his classmates on their valentines, only to be sent to the office for misbehaviour and miss the entire celebrationRecommended if you like:Amy Hempel, Kelly Link, magic realism, female he...
  • Silvana
    YES to every single one of these stories, yes for simultaneously making me feel wildly lost and holding me in a warm embrace as I reached the end. Stories that each made their own unique little mark on my heart and which I'm already looking forward to revisiting one day.
  • Katie Devine
    Quirky, inventive, utterly unique and delightful debut collection.
  • Michael
    Both imaginative and grounded. "Great, Wondrous" and "Carry Me Home, Sisters of Saint Joseph" are two of the best stories I've read in recent memory. I will probably recommend this to everyone all the time forever.
  • Rebecca Holland
    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 ...
  • Cassie
    My review is at the following link: book was amazing and the stories are brilliant. Read READ READ!!!! There are also links online to some of the stories so that you can test them out before you buy the book.
  • Julie Ehlers
    Beautiful. Funny and quirky and clear-eyed and hopeful.
  • Tobias
    Worth reading for the story "Great, Wondrous" alone -- though the collection as a whole is quite good, and the final page of the last story pretty much crushed me.
  • Jenny
    I was absolutely delighted by this collection, but the final three stories are real standouts. Great, Wondrous and Carry Me Home... were stunning.
  • jupiter
    the best thing I've read in a very very long time
  • Alex
    Bertino's debut novel, 2AM at the Cat's Pajamas, was a favorite the year I read it. I pretty speedily hunted down Safe as Houses, her previous short story collection, just to get more of her voice. It took a while to get back around to it. Something about feeling like there should be distance between an author's work? Wanting to not overdose on a voice? Hard to say. Point is, three years later, I finally cracked open the short story collection.Th...
  • Cynthia Robinson
    I liked it. Sometimes I loved it. And sometimes it annoyed me--mostly when it was trying what felt like too hard to be sparkly. But then sparkly I most certainly am not, so this is likely a personality thing. And very often, right after an annoying sparkly moment came an I-love-this-story moment, so credit where it is due! The stories sow the seeds for the style for which MHB is now fairly well known, and those connections are always interesting ...
  • Katie
    I read 2AM in the Cats Pajamas years ago, and have since bought it for so many of my friends. I finally went back and read her short stories... wow. Marine-Helene Bertino is one of my favorite authors, and I cannot wait for her to publish more.Bertino is one of the authors I love because she writes the way I someday hope to write. Her narratives are compelling, detailed, and often dark. She pulls you immediately into a world where you feel grippe...
  • Aina
    It took a while for me to warm up to these short stories but by the time I finished the book I was in bits. Each story starts out to tell you about something on the surface but then becomes a conduit through the very human tales of love, depression, heartbreak, desire to live. I loved "Great, Wondrous" but the last story "Carry Me Home, Sisters of Saint Joseph" is one I will be thinking about a lot.
  • Drew
    Charming, magical stories - although they don't hold quite the same potency as Bertino's spectacular debut novel 2 A.M. at The Cat's Pajamas. Still, they're good over a period of time (longer, frankly, than I read them would be advisable) and they remind me of how excited I am to see what Bertino does next.
  • Camille24
    Absolutely obsessed with this collection. This is one of my favorite books of 2017. These stories made me feel some type of way. And that way is: moved, enthralled, heartbroken, elated, and wanting more!!!My favorites:"The Idea of Marcel" : A woman has dinner with her Idea of her ex-boyfriend Marcel. Not with real Marcel, but with her idea of him -- a version of the man without all the annoying quirks and with a lot more interest in her feelings ...
  • Taylor Leatrice Werner
    I Love Marie-Helene Bertino. These stories are so hilarious, with absurd elements that somehow stand in for heavy, emotional stuff. So the actual story is on the periphery of what you're reading. And it's beautiful. I can't wait to read 2 A.M. at The Cat's Pajamas.
  • KatieRose
    3.5 stars. Some really lovely stories in here—favorites are The Idea of Marcel and Carry Me Home, Sisters of Saint Joseph.
  • Julia Lowry
    the stories that are good (the first two especially) are phenomenal. others feel incomplete / not quite there yet.
  • Jessa
    The first two stories are amazing
  • Tara
    Wonderful and weird and quirky and surreal. Beautiful language that surprises you at every turn. Favorites: “The Idea of Marcel,” “Great, Wondrous,” and “Carry Me Home, Sisters of Saint Joseph.”
  • Bonny
    Book Bingo 2017 - Collection of short stories
  • Ellen
    When they're good they're very very good. A few are kind of eh - but when is that not true for a story collection?
  • Karina
    30/70A few of the stories were great! But most. Not so much.
  • Trisha
    Each story provides an entrancing telling of how things in life, whether big or small, can shape ones life, their priorities, and of course, their sense of belonging.