Natural History of Transition, A
By Callum Angus
A Natural History of Transition is a collection of short stories that disrupts the notion that trans people can only have one transformation. Like the landscape studied over eons, change does not have an expiration date for these trans characters, who grow as tall as buildings, ... Read more
A Natural History of Transition is a collection of short stories that disrupts the notion that trans people can only have one transformation. Like the landscape studied over eons, change does not have an expiration date for these trans characters, who grow as tall as buildings, turn into mountains, unravel hometown mysteries, and give birth to cocoons. Portland-based author Callum Angus infuses his work with a mix of alternative history, horror, and a reality heavily dosed with magic.
Callum Angus is a trans writer and editor currently based in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in Nat. Brut, West Branch, LA Review of Books, Catapult, The Common, Seventh Wave Magazine and elsewhere. He has received support from Lambda Literary and Signal Fire Foundation for the Arts, and he holds an MFA from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. He is the founding editor of the journal smoke and mold.
Mostly recently, Cal's writing is featured in the anthology Kink edited by R. O. Kwon, Garth Greenwell (Simon & Schuster 2021).
After he gave birth at the hospital, they wrapped up the cocoon -- the size of a loaf of bread, still damp from being inside him -- and told Nathan to keep an eye it, to give it fluids, that this happens sometimes, and they told him to not tell anyone. For the first 24 hours, he watched it from the corner of his bedroom. He lay it down inside a shoebox, unable to bring himself to put the cocoon in the crib. He swore he saw it twitch. He put his face close to the opaque carapace, thinking he could glimpse some fingers, or the struts that gave the wings their shape, but it was impossible to tell what was inside the murky soup. He thought the hospital had tricked him, that his baby was really out there in a barren woman's arms, that when they saw his shape laid out on the table, the scars on his wrists, the longer scars on his chest, they decided he couldn't be trusted with the fresh canvas of a new person, so they gave him this instead. And then another thought occurred to him, that this was the only thing that made sense coming out of his body: a nondescript brick, a game of wait-and-see.
- Publishing Triangle Edmund White Award for Debut Fiction 2022, Short-listed
- Lambda Literary Award for Transgender Fiction 2022, Short-listed
- Oregon Book Awards Ken Kesey Award for Fiction 2022, Short-listed
"Callum Angus is one of the younger writers I'm most excited by, with a mind full of marvels and an ear to match. Every story surprises; every sentence strives gorgeously toward music. This is writing as transition, as entrancement, as transcendence. " - Garth Greenwell, author of Cleanness and What Belongs to You
A Natural History of Transition is overall a beautiful and mystifying collection of stories that arrives at a time when it's much needed. - Montreal Review of Books
Detransitioning, childbirth, deadnames, outing, and of course transition are all themes that Angus manages to explore in deeply unique ways. It's the range Angus captures that makes this a worthwhile read. - Cleo Peterson, The Puritan
Progressing through the collection, the sediment of every trans character builds in richness; layers of queer history pile up, jagged and dense. The accumulated layers reveal an intimate cross section--each story a marvelous sample, filled with the glittering gradation of transition. - Chicago Review of Books
Reading this slim yet expansive collection is a joyride for the brain, even when it reckons with deep-rooted pain and grief. - The Seventh Wave