Luke Geddes is the author of I Am a Magical Teenage Princess and his stories have appeared in Hayden’s Ferry Review, Conjunctions, Mid American Review, and other journals.
". . .Geddes's sure prose, empathy, pop cultural knowledge, and stoner wit make for a rewarding and unusual collection."
"[A]n amazing new voice in fiction."
"Luke Geddes is a big talent, and this is a marvelous debut."
". . .Geddes pushes always to Story, where ache surpasses wink. This is a substantial and entertaining debut."
What draws you in first are the titles: “Bongo the Space Ape,” “Defunct Girl Gangs of North American Drive-Ins,” “And I Would’ve Gotten Away With It If It Wasn’t For You Meddling Kids.”
Then there are those funny first lines:
“Having once been initiated, the party cannot, will not, will never, under any circumstances, end.” . . . “Sex in outer space is not that different.” . . . “Bongo doesn’t need this shit.”
But Luke Geddes, in his first book I Am a Magical Teenage Princess (another excellent title), knows that once he’s drawn you in, the outlandish must meld with gritty substance. Those titles and lines open doors — doors to ’60s/contemporary life mashups, savage cartoon dreamscapes, hellish high school dramas where one’s private embarrassments play out, for the edification of youth, on a public screen.
On entering these stories you might think, on first glance, you’re in familiar territory. There’s hygiene-conscious Helen, the ever chipper coworker, Barney of Bedrock fame. But don’t be fooled. The cartoon characters, the TV sitcom “types” have shadows, and depths — and even tears and blood when the story trips a wire on them and they plunge down some harrowing space.
In “Another Girl, Another Planet,” the characters’ lives, like any teens’, are rife with clichés from pop culture. But the protagonist is so smart, her dead spaceship so inimical to teenage pap that a magazine quiz’s title, “What kind of future planner are YOU?” resounds like an existential joke. And in “Betty and Veronica,” the duo don their characteristic masks in public, while beneath them brew untidy passions — imperiling their squeaky-clean roles.
Ultimately, it’s Geddes’s empathy and clear-eyed, comedic vision that makes Magical Teenage Princess stand apart. Like us, his characters are magical and flawed, strange constructs of ghost eras and selves.