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.
This 2020 reissue includes two new stories.
“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