Manywhere: Stories

Morgan Thomas. MCD, $26 (224p) ISBN 978-0-374-60248-2
Thomas’s visionary and keenly observed debut collection concerns itself with searchers (the book is dedicated to “anyone who’s gone looking for themselves in the archives”). In several stories, contemporary queer people attempt to track down historical echoes of themselves, whether in possibly forged letters by an intersex member of the Jamestown colony (“The Daring Life of Philippa Cook the Rogue”); an oral history about a namesake’s disappearance (“The Expectation of Cooper Hill”); or, in “Taylor Johnson’s Lightning Man,” a photo from Ellis Island of a woman who wore men’s clothes and hawked lightning rods. Other protagonists turn misunderstandings into opportunities for personal mythmaking. “Transit” follows a teenage nonbinary person on their way home from an eating disorder treatment center who tells a fellow train passenger they’re a vampire, a running joke from the treatment center that gets taken literally. In “Bump,” crossed wires between co-workers lead a trans woman to fake a pregnancy. Throughout, Thomas renders their characters’ explorations in rhythmic litanies (“I took it off. The bump settled into the concavity of the sink. I envied the sink for so easily cupping it. How long did I stand there, considering the shape of my body, bumpless, the two separate shapes?”). This profoundly illuminates how the characters come by the stories they tell and those they choose to tell themselves. Agent: Meredith Kaffel Simonoff, DeFiore & Co. (Jan.)
Reviewed on : 11/02/2021
Release date: 01/25/2022
Genre: Fiction
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