From the Newsstands

Holy Sh!t: Marie-Helene Bertino, Jim Shepard & Bob Dylan

by Posted on June 11th, 2012 at 6:39 pm

In the third installment of Electric Literature’s new literary offering Recommended Reading is Marie-Helene Bertino’s stunning story “North of” about bringing Bob Dylan home for Thanksgiving. (Yep.) Of course, it’s about other things, too. Siblings, for instance. War. Family. Cities. The story was chosen by American short story superpower Jim Shepard, who writes of Bertino’s story:

I haven’t been as won over by a story as completely as I was by Marie-Helene Bertino’s “North of” in years.

(Be sure to check out Shepard’s complete commentary about the story in the side bar after the link.)

Bertino’s debut collection of fiction Safe as Houses (pictured above) received the 2012 Iowa Short Fiction Award—also judged by Shepard—and will be published October 1, 2012 by the University of Iowa Press. “North of” was originally published in Mississippi Review as that year’s Mississippi Review Fiction Prize winner, and it later went on to receive a Pushcart Prize.

Below is the beginning of “North of.” Go to Recommended Reading for the rest.

There are American flags on school windows, on cars, on porch swings; it is the year I bring Bob Dylan home for Thanksgiving.

We park in front of my mom’s house, my mom who has been waiting for us at the door, probably since dawn. Her hello carries over the lawn. Bob Dylan opens the car door, stretches one leg and then the other. He wears a black leather coat, and has spent the entire ride from New York trying to remember the name of a guitarist he played with in Memphis. I pull our bags from the trunk.

“You always pack too much,” I say.

He shrugs. His arms are small in his coat. His legs are small in his jeans.

“Hello hello,” my mother says as we amble toward her.

“This is Bob,” I say.

My mother was married with a small son in the 60’s and wouldn’t recognize the songwriter of our time if he came to her house for Thanksgiving dinner. She has been cooking all morning and all she wants to know is whether somewhere in his overstuffed Samsonite, my friend Bob has packed an appetite…