"These breathlessly imaginative stories are all the more remarkable for the elegant, organic ways in which the author unhooks language from its entrenched assumptions about men and women." —The New York Times Book Review
"Wonderful stories. Impressive range. Delightfully, compellingly queer."—Roxane Gay
Named a Most Anticipated Book of 2022 by Nylon, Autostraddle, Electric Literature, Lambda Literary, The Millions, and Lit Hub.
Morgan Thomas's Manywhere features lush and uncompromising stories about characters crossing geographical borders and gender binaries.
The nine stories in Morgan Thomas’s shimmering debut collection witness Southern queer and genderqueer characters determined to find themselves reflected in the annals of history, whatever the cost. As Thomas’s subjects trace deceit and violence through Southern tall tales and their own pasts, their journeys reveal the porous boundaries of body, land, and history, and the sometimes ruthless awakenings of self-discovery.
A trans woman finds her independence with the purchase of a pregnancy bump; a young Virginian flees their relationship, choosing instead to immerse themself in the life of an intersex person from Colonial-era Jamestown. A writer tries to evade the murky and violent legacy of an ancestor who supposedly disappeared into a midwifery bag, and in the uncanny title story, a young trans person brings home a replacement daughter for their elderly father.
Winding between reinvention and remembrance, transition and transcendence, these origin stories resound across centuries. With warm, meticulous emotional intelligence, Morgan Thomas uncovers how the stories we borrow to understand ourselves in turn shape the people we become. Ushering in a new form of queer mythmaking, Manywhere introduces a storyteller of uncommon range and talent.
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.