cover image I Am a Magical Teenage Princess

I Am a Magical Teenage Princess

Luke Geddes. Chômu (Ingram, dist.), $14 trade paper (234p) ISBN 978-1-907681-16-5

Geddes, in his debut story collection, examines American pop cultural archetypes from the 1950s to the 1980s, freeing them from their familiar context. The heartbreaking opening story, “Surfer Girl,” details a drowned girl’s desire to join an all-boys surf gang and the beginnings of her sexual awareness. In “Invasion,” with Elvismania a literal plague sweeping the countryside, it’s up to the fathers to rid their community of the menace consuming their wives and daughters; jukeboxes will be smashed, records will be burned, and daughters will walk into the fire and emerge “like demons, flame-engulfed records cradled gingerly in their hands.” Several stories are sexualized reworkings of classic television shows and comic books, echoing erotic fan fiction, such as “The Modern Stone Age,” a tale of animalistic wife swapping in the Flintstones’ town of Bedrock; a villain’s view of the highly sexed Scooby Doo team (“And I Would’ve Gotten Away With It If It Wasn’t For You Meddling Kids”); and the struggle of Archie comics’ teenagers “Betty and Veronica” to repress their sexual desire for one another in the halls of Riverdale High. In one way or another all Geddes’s stories are examinations, sometimes graphic, of adolescent sexuality or the sexualization of youth culture. In a lesser writer’s hands the work would come off as puerile, but Geddes’s sure prose, empathy, pop cultural knowledge, and stoner wit make for a rewarding and unusual collection. (July)