cover image Stories No One Hopes Are About Them

Stories No One Hopes Are About Them

A. J. Bermudez. Univ. of Iowa, $17.50 trade paper (168p) ISBN 978-1-60938-863-8

In Bermudez’s captivating and mischievous debut collection, protagonists search for meaning and deal with other people’s entitlement. The queer narrator of “The Real India” works as an artist’s assistant to Lark, who leans on the narrator in efforts to maintain her cultural currency. One of Lark’s sculptures is titled Cunt Bodhisattva, and she pulls the narrator along on a trip to India to figure out how to talk about her work. Former cleaner Marta leaves her girlfriend and defies a court order by traveling from Minnesota to Antarctica to delay her embezzlement trial in “Obscure Trivia of the Antarctic.” She’s in a small tourist group of outrageously wealthy people who have signed up for a series of freezing and thrilling adventures, and who consume copious amounts of booze. “There is a tradition...of burying a secret in the snow,” the guide says, causing Marta to think about what might have happened had she stayed put. “Octopus” follows a teenage narrator during a transformative summer working as a princess at a Florida theme park. The demands of her job make her feel like she’s missing out on the fun, despite being surrounded by cacophonous action among her colleagues who perform roles as fairies and villains. Bermudez eloquently and powerfully writes of objectification and exploitation. This is a must-read. (Nov.)