by Mary Lynn Reed
publication date: March 20, 2023
In Mary Lynn Reed’s debut short story collection, Phantom Advances, young queer women travel America’s back roads, roaming through the South, Midwest, New York, and California, while questions of gender and identity ride shotgun. Peering through bug-stained windshields and the viewfinders of old film cameras, these wanderers find love, heartbreak, and little pieces of themselves wherever the road takes them. Along the way, their origin stories are also revealed. Boyish girls ace math while mucking horse stalls at a nudist summer camp and teenage tomboys pool-shark at the family-owned Game Room. In bowling alleys, factories, college-town bars, and gay discos, the stories in Phantom Advances calculate the risks of love, and contemplate the odds of being seen for who you truly are.
Praise for Phantom Advances:
"Mary Lynn Reed’s Phantom Advances makes me yearn for the beginning stages of a terrible crush. There is so much desire in this collection—the need to be seen, touched—though her characters are most often watching, biding their time. And isn’t this the best part? I absolutely love these stories."
—Mary Miller, author of Biloxi and Always Happy Hour
"There is so much to love about this book, but it’s Reed’s abiding interest in the slipperiness of identity, the fluid and haphazard dynamics of love and desire, and the way she heads, always, in the direction of generative and electrifying mystery that sets this singular collection apart."
—Maud Casey, author of City of Incurable Women
"Mary Lynn Reed's stories don't begin so much as erupt. Phantom Advances happens everywhere in America, in corner bowling alleys and barber shops and off the grid motels everyone else forgot to notice. But there it is, the truth of all of us, hiding in plain sight, hiding in the journals in Reed's eye."
—Barrett Warner, author of Why Is It So Hard to Kill You?
"The protagonists in Phantom Advances are often vulnerable and confused, but they're sturdy enough to know that life is not an equation and "identity" doesn't always solve for X. Mary Lynn Reed's psychologically acute stories celebrate the beauty and anguish of not knowing all the answers."
—Pamela Erens, author of The Virgins
"What unites all of these stories is Reed’s interest in her characters’ interiority. Phantom Advances is a book for readers who love complex characters."
—Alyssa Greene, Lambda Literary
"Reed has penned a debut which is not just the queer response to the typical heterosexual on-the-road narratives that we want, it’s the book that, in this political climate, we didn’t realize we all need."
—Joanna Acevedo, Foglifter Journal
Mary Lynn Reed is a fiction writer and mathematician. She has an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Maryland and a PhD in Mathematics from the University of Illinois. Her fiction has appeared in Fourteen Hills, Colorado Review, South Dakota Review, Potomac Review, Mississippi Review, Free State Review, and many other places. Mary Lynn’s fiction has been honored with the University of Maryland’s Katherine Anne Porter Prize in Fiction and the Per Contra Prize for Short Fiction. Mary Lynn grew up in and around Tampa, Florida. She currently lives in western New York with her wife, the artist Lesley C. Weston, and together they co-edit the journal MoonPark Review. Mary Lynn is also a professor of mathematics at the Rochester Institute of Technology.