If We Were Electric’s 12 stories celebrate New Orleans in all of its beautiful peculiarities. The stunning debut collection finds its characters in moments of desire and despair, often stuck on the verge of a metamorphosis. These are stories about missed opportunities, people on the outside who don’t fit in and the consequences of not mustering enough courage to overcome the binds.
In “Feux Follet,” an old man’s grief attracts supernatural lights in the dark Louisiana swamps. An exploding transformer’s unnerving energy in the title story matches the ferocious temper of an unlucky hustler. “Blackout” sets the profound numbness of a man abused by his unstable partner beside the beauty of an unexpected moment of joy with someone else. The teenage narrator in “Before Las Blancas” is so overwhelmed by his sexuality that he abandons everything and everyone he’s known to live in a happy illusion in Mexico. And “Where It Takes Us” is a poignant snapshot of a gay man who accompanies his straight, HIV-positive brother to the racetrack to bond again.