These nine stories 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.
Thomas writes in a musical, incantatory style that approaches poetry. Their stories aren’t linear, but a series of memoiristic recollections that fit together like beads on a string. Thomas takes extraordinary care with syntax to let queer characters fully express themselves on the page. It’s almost as if Thomas needed to create a new language to tell these stories; ours is still too binary ... 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.
For me, as a musician, one mark of a great short story collection is when it operates somewhat like a great symphony: cast in distinct movements, moving through different moods, tonalities and orchestrations, but at some base level—whether heard or simply felt—motivically and thematically cohesive. Manywhere<, Morgan Thomas’ expansive and expressive debut collection, is this kind of book. Though the nine stories within it are not linked in character or plot, they are woven from the same cloth. Combining astute research, invention, and an endlessly imaginative inquisitiveness, taken together they create a rich tapestry of stories, each with its own vivid threadwork ... homas captures the visual, atmospheric, and emotional textures of life in the American South so vividly that you can’t imagine these characters existing anywhere else ... Thomas, in their own way, seems to take influence from Southern literature’s tendency to use mythic histories to provide models for how (or how not) to live. Here, there is queer mythmaking, but there is also historicization ... Throughout the collection, Thomas asserts themself as a writer of thematic breadth and imaginative depth. The writing, too, is consistently impressive: acerbic dialogue sits side by side with lyrical passages that almost read as prose poems. Metaphor and image are so cohesive within each story that each feels at once airtight and effortless. But it is as a storyteller, in the most literal sense, that Thomas finally triumphs. Their ear for vernacular, capability for invention, and sense of the nuances of human intimacy—particularly that more elusive intimacy with the contours of one’s own experience—make it no wonder that their characters are themselves such vivid storytellers ... a love letter to storytelling, to its capacity to challenge binaries and expectations and its capacity for malleability.
Morgan Thomas’ thorny debut short story collection, is a basket of tart winter fruit ... Manywhere explores the way history thwarts attempts at connection, and while some of these stories stumble as their narrators become lost in wonder, just as many enchant ... Intergenerational meetings between trans and trans-adjacent figures form the core of Thomas’ collection ... Though the archival text sometimes lacks the shimmer of Thomas’ contemporary-set prose, by projecting their characters desires’ onto sketches of historical figures, Thomas has created their own archive.