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Heart Berries

List Price: $23.00

ON SALE: February 6, 2018 | Hardcover | 5x8, 160 pages | ISBN 9781619023345
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Heart Berries by Terese Mailhot is an astounding memoir in essays. Here is a wound. Here is need, naked and unapologetic. Here is a mountain woman, towering in words great and small… What Mailhot has accomplished in this exquisite book is brilliance both raw and refined.” —Roxane Gay, author of Hunger

“Shot through with funny angry beautiful brutal truths. This is a writer for our times who simultaneously blows up time.” —Lidia Yuknavitch, author of The Book of Joan

Heart Berries is a powerful, poetic memoir of a woman’s coming of age on the Seabird Island Indian Reservation in the Pacific Northwest. Having survived a profoundly dysfunctional upbringing only to find herself hospitalized and facing a dual diagnosis of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Bipolar II; Terese Marie Mailhot is given a notebook and begins to write her way out of trauma. The triumphant result is Heart Berries, a memorial for Mailhot’s mother, a social worker and activist who had a thing for prisoners; a story of reconciliation with her father—an abusive drunk and a brilliant artist—who was murdered under mysterious circumstances; and an elegy on how difficult it is to love someone while dragging the long shadows of shame.

Mailhot “trusts the reader to understand that memory isn’t exact, but melded to imagination, pain, and what we can bring ourselves to accept.” Her unique and at times unsettling voice graphically illustrates her mental state. As she writes, she discovers her own true voice, seizes control of her story, and, in so doing, re-establishes her connection to her family, to her people, and to her place in the world.

TERESE MARIE MAILHOT graduated from the Institute of American Indian Arts with an M.F.A. in fiction. Mailhot’s work has appeared in The Rumpus, the Los Angeles Times, Carve Magazine, The Offing, The Toast, Yellow Medicine Review, and elsewhere. The recipient of several fellowships—SWAIA Discovery Fellowship, Vermont Studio Center Fellowship, Writing by Writers Fellowship, and the Elk Writer’s Workshop Fellowship—she was recently named the Tecumseh Postdoctoral Fellow at Purdue University and resides in West Lafayette, Indiana.

SHERMAN ALEXIE, winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, the PEN/Malamud Award for Short Fiction, a PEN/Hemingway Citation for Best First Fiction, and the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature, is a poet, short story writer, novelist, and performer. He has published 26 books including his soon to be released memoir, You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me, his first picture book, Thunder Boy Jr, and his young adult novel, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, He has also published the 20th Anniversary edition of his classic book of stories, The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven. Smoke Signals, the movie he wrote and co-produced, won the Audience Award and Filmmakers Trophy at the 1998 Sundance Film Festival. A Spokane/Coeur d’Alene Indian, Alexie grew up in Wellpinit, Washington, on the Spokane Indian Reservation. Alexie has been an urban Indian since 1994 and lives in Seattle with his family.

JOAN NAVIYUK KANE is the author of The Cormorant Hunter’s Wife, Hyperboreal, The Straits, and Milk Black Carbon. Honors for her work include the Whiting Writer’s Award, the Donald Hall Prize in Poetry, the Alaska Literary Award, and fellowships from the Rasmuson Foundation, the Native Arts and Cultures Foundation, the School for Advanced Research, Aninstantia Foundation, and the Lannan Foundation. A graduate of Harvard College and Columbia University’s School of the Arts, she raises her sons in Alaska and teaches in the low-residency MFA program at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico.


Praise for Heart Berries

Heart Berries by Terese Marie Mailhot is an astounding memoir in essays. Here is a wound. Here is need, naked and unapologetic. Here is a mountain woman, towering in words great and small. She writes of motherhood, loss, absence, want, suffering, love, mental illness, betrayal, and survival. She does this without blinking, but to say she is fearless would be to miss the point. These essays are too intimate, too absorbing, too beautifully written, but never ever too much. What Mailhot has accomplished in this exquisite book is brilliance both raw and refined, testament.” —Roxane Gay, author of Hunger

“Inside Terese Mailhot’s phenomenal memoir Heart Berries the truth wrestles a knot between hustle and heart. How does a woman raised on a reservation in Canada forge a lifestory in the face of a culture hell bent on keeping her quiet and calm? By and through her body, is how, and this woman’s body rages, desires, screams and whispers its way into the reader’s body, as if to remind us that the rest of the story will not be silenced. Terese radically reinvents language in order to surface what has been murdered by American culture: the body of a woman, the voice of a warrior, the stories of ancestral spirit jutting up and through the present tense. I am mesmerized by her lyricism because it is shot through with funny angry beautiful brutal truths. This is a writer for our times who simultaneously blows up time. Thank oceans.” —Lidia Yuknavitch, author of The Book of Joan, The Small Backs of Children, Dora: A Headcase, and The Chronology of Water

Heart Berries is an epic take—an Iliad for the indigenous. It is the story of one First Nation woman and her geographic, emotional, and theological search for meaning in a colonial world. It is disturbing and hilarious. It contains sentences of such poetry and power that you will be compelled to set the book down and walk away to recover from the tremors. Terese is a world-changing talent and I recommend this book with 100% of my soul.” —Sherman Alexie, author of You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me

“This book is ache and balm. It is electric honesty and rigorous craft. It concerns a woman who veers into difficult and haunted corners. She meets ghosts and hospitals. She ends up in a mutinous wing of memoir, disobeying all colonial postures, ‘neat narratives,’ formulas and governments. The resulting story is brave and bewitching. I am so grateful to Terese Marie Mailhot, a fiery new voice, whose words devoured my heart.” —Kyo Maclear, bestselling author of Birds Art Life

“Mailhot fearlessly addresses intimately personal issues with a scorching honesty derived from psychological pain and true epiphany . . . Slim, elegiac, and delivered with an economy of meticulous prose, the book calibrates the author’s history as an abused child and an adult constantly at war with the demons of mental illness. An elegant, deeply expressive meditation infused with humanity and grace.” —Kirkus Reviews

“There is some word we have not invented yet that means honesty to the hundredth power, that means courage, exponentially extended, that means I will flay myself for my art, for my survival, for my family, to keep breathing, to keep writing, to keep being alive. Inside that opening is beauty beyond all measure, the truth that art was invented to carry, and power enough to light the word. This book is that kind of opening.” —Pam Houston, author of Contents May Have Shifted

Heart Berries makes me think of a quote I have always loved: ‘Beauty is truth, truth beauty’ (Keats). With a keen eye for intense truth and thoroughly crafted beauty, Mailhot’s debut sings like poetry, and stays with you long after you’ve finished the last page.” —Katherena Vermette, award-winning author of The Break

Heart Berries is phenomenal. I finished the book and went right back to the beginning to read through once again; my understanding deepened, as did the mystery. Mailhot’s voice is so clear, so disruptive, so assured, and always so mesmerizingly poetic—it somehow startles and lulls all at once. I was KNOCKED DOWN.” —Justin Torres, author of We the Animals

“Unearthing medicine and receiving power requires you to give your life, and in her debut memoir, Mailhot fearlessly delivers. By turns tender, sad, angry, and funny, Heart Berries is a thought-provoking, powerful exploration of what it means to be a contemporary Indigenous woman and mother.” —Eden Robinson, author of the Scotiabank Giller Prize short-listed novel Son of a Trickster

“In this debut memoir, Terese Marie Mailhot sends across generations a love letter to women considered difficult. She sends a manifesto toward remembering—culture and heartbreak and laughter. She writes to the men who love these women. She writes prose tight as a perfect sheet, tucked. These stories hold equal parts heartbreak and laughter. To read this book is to engage with one of our very best minds at work.” —Toni Jensen, author of From the Hilltop

“Some books need us more than we need them. Others, the rare ones, are gifts that restore potency to language, confront trauma with wiliness and craft, and revitalize the world. Heart Berries is one these rare books.” —Stephen Sparks, Point Reyes Books (Point Reyes Station, CA)

Heart Berries is a slender jewel of a memoir written by a wholly original and unexpected new voice. I have never read anyone like Terese Marie Mailhot—each page delivers new and delightful ways to play with words and sentence structure, in an extremely natural and organic way (nothing overwritten or precious here). It doesn’t feel like it was written so much as physically extracted from her body like a root, gnarled and dirty and honest and beautiful. I cried, and laughed, and never wanted it to end. I can’t wait to see what she does next.” —Leah Cushman, Powell’s Books (Portland, OR)

“Terese Mailhot delivers one of the most poetic and heartbreaking memoirs I have read this year. Her prose and form take the typical memoir and turn it on its head. Unsurprisingly, she was one of Sherman Alexie’s students, and shows the same inventiveness of style. Heart Berries is a beautiful and painful ode to struggles as a Native woman. I treasured Mailhot’s words and ability to openly share her unique yet universal struggles as an indigenous person.” —Kate Laubernds, Powell’s Books (Portland, OR)

Heart Berries is slim but so potent. I found myself seized and unnerved by Mailhot’s piercing command of language, and her courage in reforming her life’s narrative. She’s destined to become a must-read for those who’ve loved the work of writers like Mary Karr, Sherman Alexie, and Roxane Gay.” —Leigh Atkins, Kepler’s (Menlo Park, CA)

“This is not ordinarily the sort of book I pick up, but I found it powerful and disturbing and heart-wrenching to read. Mailhot writes her madness in an extraordinarily compelling way, one that viscerally portrays the abuse and trauma at the heart of her story. Every time I went to put it down, I found myself compelled to pick it up again.” —Jenny Craig, librarian, Seattle Public Library

“I feel completely inadequate in writing a review of something from such a place of unique heart-wrenching perspective, obsession, anguish, and culture. I think Sherman [Alexie]’s intro and his own fumbling for enough exclamation points to endorse [Mailhot’s] writing kind of sums up my own response . . . What a courageous book.” ––Jesica Sweedler DeHart, Neill Public Library (Pullman, WA)