We were thrilled to host a preview of Cara Blue Adams’s debut short story collection, You Never Get it Back. She was joined in conversation by Marie-Helene Bertino (Parakeet). Both are previous Emerging Writer Fellows whose collections were selected by the Iowa Short Fiction Award Series. In thirteen stories, Adams explores the life of a young woman from New England and her search for identity, complicated by distance, class, and ambition. Celebrated author Brandon Taylor calls You Never Get It Back “a modern classic of a collection, as effortless in its idiom as it is fearless in its consideration of contemporary life.”
You Never Get It Back
By Cara Blue Adams
Published by University of Iowa Press
The linked stories in Cara Blue Adams’s precise and observant collection offer elegantly constructed glimpses of the life of Kate, a young woman from rural New England, moving between her childhood in the countryside of Vermont and her twenties and thirties in the northeast, southwest, and South in pursuit of a vocation, first as a research scientist and later as a writer. Place is a palpable presence: Boston in winter, Maine in summer, Virginia’s lush hillsides, the open New Mexico sky. Along the way, we meet Kate’s difficult bohemian mother and younger sister, her privileged college roommate, and the various men Kate dates as she struggles to define what she wants from the world on her own terms.
Wryly funny and shot through with surprising flashes of anger, these smart, dreamy, searching stories show us a young woman grappling with social class, gender, ambition, violence, and the distance between longing and having.
Cara Blue Adams
Cara Blue Adams
Cara Blue Adams is the author of You Never Get It Back, winner of the John Simmons Short Fiction Award (University of Iowa Press, 2021). Her stories appear in many magazines, including Granta, the Kenyon Review, Epoch, Alaska Quarterly Review, and American Short Fiction. She has been awarded the Kenyon Review Short Fiction Prize, the Missouri Review Peden Prize, and the Meringoff Prize in Fiction, along with The Center for Fiction Emerging Writer Fellowship and support from the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. Her essays, criticism, and interviews appear in the Believer, Tin House, and Ploughshares, and an essay about coediting the Southern Review appears in The Little Magazine in Contemporary America (University of Chicago, 2015). She is an associate professor of creative writing at Seton Hall University and lives in Brooklyn.
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 work has received The O. Henry Prize, The Pushcart Prize, The Center for Fiction Emerging Writer Fellowship, and The Frank O’Connor International Short Story Fellowship in Cork, Ireland. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Electric Literature, Tin House, McSweeneys, Granta, BOMB, Guernica, and others. She has taught at NYU, The New School, Institute for American Indian Arts, and University of Montana, where she was the Distinguished Kittredge Visiting Writer. Her alien opus novel Beautyland is forthcoming from FSG.