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Book Review :: Impossible Naked Life by Luke Rolfes

Impossible Naked Life stories by Luke Rolfes book cover image

Guest Post by Justin Courter

Betcha can’t eat just one! Reading the flash fictions in Luke Rolfes’s Impossible Naked Life, winner of the Acacia Fiction Prize from Kallisto Gaia Press, you’ll tell yourself: Okay, maybe just one more. . . and then read another half-dozen of them. These stories are, by turns (and turns of the pages that keep you wondering what the author will think of next) heartfelt and hilarious. The first sentence of each is a runway from which Rolfes takes an imaginative flight, and the only regret is that sometimes the ride seems too short. Some of the best of these stories are the longer ones—longer, in this case, meaning about ten pages.

One of the funniest, “My Neighbor, Ray,” begins: “On day three of the global crisis, a person crawls out of my mouth. The person is small at first—the size of a marble—but then he grows and grows until full sized.” The person is essentially the narrator’s (Luke’s) alter ego; he befriends the next-door neighbor, who moves in with Luke and his family. Covid cabin fever induces late-night discussions on subjects such as what the concerns of the toothbrush and razor might be if inanimate objects had feelings; and an afternoon when Luke’s kids use some of the overstock of toilet paper to wrap Ray up like a mummy in the backyard.

Not all the stories are surreal but, as does the one described above, all have an emotional accuracy. You aren’t sure where you’re going in Impossible Naked Life, but you’re enjoying a Denis Johnson kind of trip.

Impossible Naked Life by Luke Rolfes. Kallisto Gaia Press, March 2022.

Bio: Justin Courter’s books include the novels The Heart of It All and Skunk: A Love Story. He lives in New York City.

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