Heartfelt and wickedly comic, Impossible Naked Life showcases Luke Rolfes' impressive talent. Insightful and full of surprises, these stories are unforgettable, deeply moving, and revealing of their characters. Rolfes investigates the strangeness of a world haunted by desire, death, mysterious disappearances, and disturbing rumors. Men and women, as well as boys and girls, grapple with each other, with romance, with dreams, and with the search for meaning to discover glimmers of wisdom in the darkness.
-Aimee Parkison, author of Refrigerated Music for a Gleaming Woman
Set in the “corn and bean fields of Middle America,” Luke Rolfes’ Impossible Naked Life achieves the next-to-impossible task of serving up both the droll and the devastating in equal measure. Rolfes’ characters and locales are relatable (HR directors, nosy neighbors, state parks, cul de sacs), but his plot twists transfix and transport. Is there a dead girl at the bottom of the Showbiz Pizza ball pit? A saltwater crocodile in the waterskiing lake? A more likeable version of ourself waiting to crawl from our mouth and commandeer our pandemic pod? Through poetic flash and skillful, extended prose, Rolfes’ expertly mines the everyday for the not just the monumental, but the vulnerable, ultimately giving readers a generous, naked look at fictional lives quite similar to their own
-Whitney Collins, author of Big Bad
Luke Rolfes’s Impossible Naked Life is a quietly ambitious collection of very short stories. Rolfes draws readers quickly (and deeply) into storyworlds as richly (and deftly) imagined as those found in far longer works of fiction and he does so at an amazing clip. Standout pieces among the 30+ featured in this book include those with startling leaps into the fantastical or absurd, but just as compelling are those that elevate the ordinary worlds of commuters, cheaters, and high school athletes to the stuff of lyrical transcendence. How do you fit the story of an entire human life into the space of a page or two? I don’t know, but Rolfes has perfected the alchemy required to render such feats of compression with seeming ease. Buy this book and let it remind you what stories can do.
-Sarah Anne Strickley, author of Fall Together
The stories in Impossible Naked Life simmer with uneasiness and displacement. A young man has a surprising encounter while traveling cross country by train; two young women drive into darkness with their headlights off into the shadows of a strange local ghost story; a man name Luke births his own double from his mouth during a global crisis—whether grounded in reality or fabulism, Luke Rolfes stories examine characters in liminal spaces searching for whatever it is they need to feel whole, to find home. These stories ache and sigh in impossibly beautiful ways, and are haunted by a creeping sense of dread. The stories in this collection are an impressive display of Rolfes' considerable talent.
-James Brubaker, author of The Taxidermist’s Catalog
I love this book. Whether it's compassion among cold people, or a bull snake in the grip of a young girl, every story delivers something profound where you don't expect it. Luke Rolfes has assembled a great collection of funny, strange, closeup looks at the lives of people who are ordinary only on the surface.
-Robert Long Foreman, author of Weird Pig and I Am Here to Make Friends