At once playfully dark and slyly hopeful, Stories No One Hopes Are about Them explores convergences of power, privilege, and place. Characters who are ni de aquí, ni de allá—neither from here nor there—straddle competing worlds, disrupt paradigms, and transition from objects of other people’s stories to active subjects and protagonists of their own. Narratives of humanity and environment entwine with nuanced themes of colonization, queerness, and evolution at the forefront. Big things happen in this collection. But it’s also a collection of small intimacies: misremembered names, chipped teeth, and private rituals; unexpected alliances and barely touched knees beneath uniform skirts; minutiae of the natural world; incidents that quietly, achingly, and delightfully transgress the familiar.
“Stories No One Hopes Are about Them is an absolutely brilliant collection, so of the moment formally and politically yet timeless in its pursuit of human contradiction. These stories move across geography, mode, and tone, linked not by common characters or shared locales but by the sly wit and stylistic virtuosity of their author. A. J. Bermudez’s debut left me in awe.”—Anthony Marra, judge, Iowa Short Fiction Award
“In moments I almost hoped these wildly intelligent and wholly electric stories were about me. Was it recognition of those Bermuda Triangle-like moments when what we are running toward becomes what we are running from? Or pure admiration for the simultaneous swagger and patience of Bermudez’s turns of phrase? Maybe it’s the urge to be at the mercy of her formal range, from delightful lists to moments that gesture toward pure myth? It’s all of this, but mostly it’s how these heroes and fools still believe in metaphor as a site of human transformation, if not of our circumstances, then at least of our understanding of how we got from there to here.”—Jenny Browne, author, Fellow Travelers, State of Texas poet laureate
“A. J. Bermudez’s dazzling debut is a riveting collection of stories filled with memorable characters whose acerbic wit in the face of an absurd world haunts and delights. Each incredible story contains a world in miniature brought to the page with maximum impact, revealing a fragile surface that nonetheless is too tempting not to be shattered. There is an exhilarating breadth of characters, events, and places in these stories, showcasing a promising new writer who mixes the daily and the outlandish in a vision that is often wrenching and always surprising.”—Michael Nye, author, All the Castles Burned
“With Stories No One Hopes Are about Them, A. J. Bermudez explores what makes us us. Twenty brief tales poke at our assumptions of who we are and why we make our decisions. These are moments of living laid out over parties, plane tickets, rooms, and lives; they fold, unfold, and refold; paper airplanes cradling small insights. Pause in the frozen moments, breathe in the now of here and what comes next.”—Derek Beaulieu, director of literary arts, Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity