Alex DiFrancesco Captures the Fraught Magic of the In-Between

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By Patrick Cottrell

TRANSMUTATION
Stories
By Alex DiFrancesco

Alex DiFrancesco’s eclectic, absorbing first collection, “Transmutation,” captures moments of in-betweenness (often fraught, sometimes magical) that may be especially familiar to transgender people who are not legible, temporarily or purposefully, to others or themselves. In one story, a trans man wears a chest binder and can’t afford top surgery. He’s a server at a restaurant, but does not earn much because “newly bearded, ambiguously gendered people just didn’t get tipped as much as cute girls.” The protagonist’s desire to have top surgery is at odds with both his partner’s wishes and his financial situation, but what “The Ledger of the Deep” hinges on is the careful observation of how people fill their days: watching “Twin Peaks,” cooking a meal, drinking beer on a boat.

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