In a vivid debut story collection, Luke Dani Blue asks: is there such a thing as a real self? If so, how do you find it?
PRETEND IT’S MY BODY
by Luke Dani Blue
The Feminist Press, Fall 2022
(via Defiore & Company)
In the vein of Carmen Maria Machado, Kelly Link, and Daniel Lavery, and born of the author’s experience in and between genders, these stories blur the line between fantasy and reality, between the lives we wish for and the ones we actually lead, excavating new meanings from our varied dysphorias. Ranging from a tornado survivor grappling with a new identity, to a trans teen psychic that can only read undecided minds, from a woman telling her family of her plans to upload her consciousness and abandon her body, to con artists, runaways, and lost souls returning home, Blue’s characters all share an insistence on forging their own realities. Surreal, darkly funny, and always tender, PRETEND IT’S MY BODY is a collection bound together by the act of searching – for a story of one’s own, for a glimpse of certainty, and for a spark of recognition in others.
“The magic in [the short story] “Bad Things That Happen to Girls,” is so subtle and slow-building and so unprepossessing that, while reading it, I understood I was holding my breath only when the story started to swim before me…It’s a story that aches with truth and desperation, and I marvel at the way Blue ratchets up the motion, breath by breath, to the story’s logical but stunning end.” —Lauren Groff, author of Fates and Furies and Florida
Luke Dani Blue’s stories have appeared in the Colorado Review, Crab Orchard Review, and have been included on the list of the year’s most distinguished stories in Best American Short Stories 2016. They have an MFA from San Francisco State University and currently live in Alberta, Canada.