Informed by the author’s experience in and between genders, this debut story collection blurs fantasy and reality, excavating new meanings from our varied dysphorias.
Misfit mothers, prodigal "undaughters," con artists, and middle-aged runaways populate these ten short stories that blur the lives we wish for with the ones we actually lead. A tornado survivor grapples with a new identity, a trans teen psychic can read only indecisive minds, and a woman informs her family of her plans to upload her consciousness and abandon her body.
Luke Dani Blue invites the reader into a world of outlier lives made central and magical thinking made real. Surreal, darkly humorous, and always deeply felt, Pretend It’s My Body is bound together by the act of searching—for a spark of recognition and a story of one's own.
“Filled with magic… these stories perform groundbreaking work in their search for apt metaphors to describe moments of revelation for trans and queer people.” —Kirkus
“Smart and nuanced, the short stories of Pretend It’s My Body mine inventive plots and fresh characters to race through the wreckage of bad choices.” —Foreword Reviews
“Luke Dani Blue seamlessly incorporates elements of fantasy, sci fi, and literary fiction, defying genres—or, if you will, living between them.” —them.
“New, intense and remarkable.” —Ms. Magazine
“Luke Dani Blue defies every expectation in these ten ravishing, razor-wired tales about transition. These characters hang between genders, between stations, in the future of ten minutes from now—stuck in some essential way and struggling for a way forward. In Pretend It’s My Body, everything is possible, and yet, life in the flesh proves maddeningly resistant to the pressure of individual desire.” —Janet Fitch, author of White Oleander
“Pretend It’s My Body is a wonderful collection, capable and sure-footed as a pacesetter, and at once funny, jarring, disorienting, and bracing in turn, like trying to use a credit card at a carnival. Unrushed, but with a real center; each story distinct yet kind, afraid neither of ugliness nor loveliness. I liked it marvelously well.” —Daniel M. Lavery, author of The Merry Spinster: Tales of Everyday Horror
“These stories unsettle, secrete, vibrate with the incommensurable tensions of being more than bodies, genders, consciousness. In Luke Dani Blue’s work, ‘identity’ gets ripped apart and reconstructed into something marvelous, possibly dangerous. Blue has put words to realities that I have known without ever being able to articulate.” —Joss Lake, author of Future Feeling: A Novel
“Blending psychological realism and the supernatural, these stories ooze queerness, horror, and a wild eeriness. This book, an electrifying debut, will haunt you long after you’ve put it down.” —Julián Delgado Lopera, author of Fiebre Tropical: A Novel
“In Pretend It’s My Body, Luke Dani Blue portrays each of their characters as having their very own (often sexy, always queer) logic—logic that is constantly d/evolving as they act, revealing compelling combinations of desire and determination, longing and intelligence, grief and (no small amount of) humor. In each paragraph of each story, Blue gives me what I want from fiction: intellectual surprise and thrilling, jagged mishmashes of intense emotion. An absolutely thrilling debut.” —Matthew Clark Davison, author of Doubting Thomas: A Novel
“Luke Dani Blue’s debut short story collection is a twisted, tense triumph of a book that at once resists a cis gaze and insists that everyone, regardless of gender, has experienced moments of intense transition. The stories are imaginative, the characters idiosyncratic, and the sentences delicious.” —A.E. Osworth, author of We Are Watching Eliza Bright: A Novel
“It’s a wonderfully unruly thing, this book, and like the body itself, all the more striking because its form is all its own: squishy here and muscled there, imperfect and terrifically queer.” —Wired
“With these spooky, sharp, hilarious, daunting, and undaunted stories, Luke Dani Blue burns down the house of socially familiar categories and fictions. In Pretend It’s My Body we meet near-future teenagers, babies who don’t talk goo-goo, and wildly entertaining ayahuasca entrepreneurs. With deft craft and ingenious insight, Blue plumbs the liminal. Who can humans be and where can we go when we exist in the cracks, between the familiar and the fully strange, an unlanguaged place we can only reach by imagination? A must read for anyone living in this shape-shifting century.” —Nona Caspers, author of The Fifth Woman