Tender, deft, conversational, gently comic yet ever ominous, the fictions that make up If You Can assume a certain amount of unhinged reality and ontological uncertainty as their inhabitants attempt to work within the confines of these awkward spacesuits, these slushy, relentless impossibilities, called our bodies.
Lance Olsen, author of My Red Heaven
Quirky and deft, these stories pick apart the real you thought you knew to offer the stranger worlds lurking within. An impressive debut, in which the fantastic always manages to get at something more human and the humor has a serious, and sometimes cutting, edge to it.
Brian Evenson, Song for the Unraveling of the World
JI Daniels deftly creates characters of the real and the irreal. In dazzlingly innovative fiction, If You Can captures unexpected empathy in offbeat experiences and surreal bodies. Imaginatively stirring yet illuminating, every heartbreak and every fantastical wonder seems an adaptive defense to surviving the trauma of being human.
Aimee Parkison, Refrigerated Music for a Gleaming Woman
Magical, comic, harrowing, and tender, the inventive fictions of If You Can transport the reader to worlds where children dissolve, become sand or flame, water, ashes—where the exhilarating trauma of being struck by lightning converges with the endless sorrow of living as an addict. Here, if you can bear it, a cold becomes severe pneumonia and progresses to sepsis before opening your compromised bowels to emaciating C. diff. By some miracle, you survive all this only to discover you have cancer, that the afflictions a body, a soul, a relationship can endure are almost, but not quite, infinite. JI Daniels illuminates internal despair and external wonder: with uncanny insight and intuitive grace, he unveils the secrets of snow, its myriad forms, its numinous capacity to expose suffering and love—the recklessly joyful desperation in the hearts of two orphaned sisters. Always he balances grief with humor, loss with resilience, shame with mercy.
Melanie Rae Thon, The Voice of the River
JI Daniels has an MFA from the University of Houston, is currently a PhD Candidate at the University of Utah, and is the author of the novel Mount Fugue, as well as short works appearing in Notre Dame Review, Southwest Review, Diagram, and elsewhere.