Marie-Helene Bertino on the Dual Portals of Trauma and Friendship
From the Thresholds Podcast, Hosted by Jordan Kisner
This is Thresholds, a series of conversations with writers about experiences that completely turned them upside down, disoriented them in their lives, changed them, and changed how and why they wanted to write. Hosted by Jordan Kisner, author of the new essay collection, Thin Places, and brought to you by Lit Hub Radio.
On today’s episode, Jordan talks to Marie-Helene Bertino, author of Parakeet, about surrealism (or, in Marie’s words, super-realism), how trauma affects the mind, a monoclonal Aspen forest in Utah, and more.
From the interview:
Marie-Helene Bertino: The bride has been injured, and injury doesn’t always show up the way you think it will. And it doesn’t in her. She’s looking for family. Family doesn’t manifest or show up the way you think it will, and in my life it hasn’t. And so in addition to the portals of trauma and friendship, I would also say I’m always looking to construct alternative ideas of family as well.
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Marie-Helene Bertino is the author of the novels PARAKEET (New York Times Editors’ Choice) and 2 A.M. AT THE CAT’S PAJAMAS (NPR Best Books 2014), and the story collection SAFE AS HOUSES (Iowa Short Fiction Award). Her fourth book, the novel BEAUTYLAND, is forthcoming from FSG. Her work has been translated into eight languages, and has received The Frank O’Connor International Short Story Fellowship in Cork, Ireland, The O. Henry Prize, The Pushcart Prize and two special mentions, fellowships from The MacDowell Colony, Hedgebrook Writers Colony, The Center For Fiction NYC, and Sewanee Writers Conference, where she was the Walter E. Dakin fellow. Her work has twice been featured on NPR’s “Selected Shorts” program. A former editor for One Story and Catapult, she teaches fiction in the MFA programs of NYU and The New School. In Spring 2020 she was the Distinguished Kittredge Visiting Writer in University of Montana’s MFA. She has worked as a biographer for people living with Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).