Letters to the Devil
"In letter after letter, Lena Bertone's narrator accuses, questions, begs for affection, her voice riddled with obsession and disgust, longing and passion. Here is an unconventional and unforgettable voice, one I hoped might continue sending her missives long after the last page."
-Matt Bell, author of In the House upon the Dirt between the Lake and the Woods
"A fugue of revulsion, Letters to the Devil is a spiraling spine: delicate, intricate, urgent. The loneliness of despair eats at the reader, our bodies cramping with sorrow and optimism."
-Lily Hoang, author of The Evolutionary Revolution
"These Letters to the Devil are by turns formalist, funny, raw, wicked, fantastical - but always throbbing with longing. Lena Bertone has created something here that's wholly original - a genre wrapped in itself and topped with a sinister, sideways bow".
-Amber Sparks, author of May We Shed These Human Bodies
"This is a beguiling work of archetypes and contemporary sensibilities both, conjuring and filling out myth while putting it closer into the current imagination and experience. The evolving sense and feel of dialogue, so plaintive, so simple, pushes us on our strange way in pursuit of the narrator’s pursuit. We are in this together, even as the narrator is so uncertain. These words are compelling as they construct, in a new way, their curious story."
-Alberto Ríos, Poet Laureate of Arizona and author of The Dangerous Shirt
Behind This Mirror
Published in 2015 by Origami Zoo Press. Available from the publisher or from me--just drop me a line and I'll get one out to you.
For her next trick, Lena Bertone will show you seven sisters each with their own particular beauty, a magician who demands you leave your wallet at the door, an angry appendage with a mind of its own, a woman who waxes and wanes, and a sad story that is exactly 69% true. The stories in Behind This Mirror flip the fables and fairy tales you remember on their heads. Here, the beautiful and the grotesque are one and the same, both a blessing and a curse. Bertone’s characters struggle with their bodily confines in a world that defines people based on appearances. These stories hold mirrors up to their most intimate truths, then shatter them.
“Reading this book affords us the pleasure of rifling through an old card catalog cabinet, drawers within drawers within drawers, packed with indexes perfumed and musty, entreaties, legends, redactions—small miracles, all… As Bertone tucks one precious thing inside of another, she reminds us that our lives are comprised of these so many swallowed layers, so many heartaches nesting in hilarity. She reminds us of how much we’ve lost, and the sort of herculean effort we must exert in order to unearth all of these subsumed beauties, praying, as we dig, that they’ve retained some of their light.”
—Matthew Gavin Frank, author of Preparing the Ghost
“Imagine Jorge Luis Borges, Lydia Davis, and the Brothers Grimm all got lost in a forest together and were eaten by a wolf. These are the stories the wolf told afterwards, after eating several poets for dessert. Strange, beautiful, and merciless, Bertone’s tales haunt and delight.”
—Caitlin Horrocks, author of This Is Not Your City