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A Dream of a Woman

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Casey Plett's 2018 novel Little Fish won a Lambda Literary Award, the Firecracker Award for Fiction, and the Amazon First Novel Award (Canada). Her latest work, A Dream of a Woman, is her first book of short stories since her seminal 2014 collection A Safe Girl to Love. Centering transgender women seeking stable, adult lives, A Dream of a Woman finds quiet truths in prairie high-rises and New York warehouses, and in freezing Canadian winters and drizzly Oregon days.

In "Hazel and Christopher," two childhood friends reconnect as adults after one of them has transitioned. In "Perfect Places," a woman grapples with undesirability as she navigates fetish play with a man. In "Couldn't Hear You Talk Anymore," the narrator reflects on past trauma and what might have been as she recalls tender moments with another trans woman.

An ethereal meditation on partnership, sex, addiction, romance, groundedness, and love, the stories in A Dream of a Woman buzz with quiet intensity and the intimate complexities of being human.

279 pages, Paperback

First published September 21, 2021

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About the author

Casey Plett

11 books435 followers
Casey Plett is the author of A Dream of a Woman, Little Fish, A Safe Girl to Love, the co-editor of Meanwhile, Elsewhere: Science Fiction and Fantasy From Transgender Writers, and the Publisher at LittlePuss Press. She has written for The New York Times, Harper’s Bazaar, The Guardian, The Globe and Mail, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, the Winnipeg Free Press, and other publications. A winner of the Amazon First Novel Award, the Firecracker Award for Fiction, and a two-time winner of the Lambda Literary Award, her work has also been nominated for the Scotiabank Giller Prize. She splits her time between New York City and Windsor, Ontario.

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5 stars
549 (49%)
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416 (37%)
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111 (10%)
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21 (1%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 195 reviews
Profile Image for CaseyTheCanadianLesbrarian.
1,154 reviews1,466 followers
October 25, 2021
I've been a big fan of Casey Plett's work since I first encountered it, so it's no surprise I loved her most recent short story collection. She writes about (and I suspect for) trans women, often looking at relationships between them. To get a glimpse of their intimacies, interiorities, and experiences is a privilege I don't take for granted as a cis woman!

Her characters are so intricate and authentic. From one woman with Mennonite roots returning to her home in the Canadian prairies to another leaving cozy Portland queertopia to transition in New York’s anonymity, the stories crackle with quiet complexity. They made me ache, laugh, cringe, cry.

The characters felt like friends who came for a visit and had to go home. I miss them.

Highly recommended, obviously!
Profile Image for Danika at The Lesbrary.
527 reviews1,333 followers
October 13, 2021
I’m in awe of the way Plett paints these characters. They feel so real and multifaceted. They are deeply flawed, but sympathetically drawn. When a character makes a decision I disagree with, when they hurt someone, I felt for both of them. They all feel like they could walk off the page and into your life.

I highly recommend this collection for anyone who wants to feel bruise-tender about the world.

Full review at the Lesbrary.
Profile Image for Alanna Why.
Author 1 book125 followers
June 9, 2021
Long review to come, but I think this is Plett's most mature and dare I say... best work to date?! These stories took my breath away. (Digital ARC provided by Arsenal Pulp Press for review purposes.)
Profile Image for Megan.
Author 16 books478 followers
March 28, 2021
I got to read this book in draft form and it's magnificent! Casey Plett's second collection finds her as tender and charming as ever, coaxing her characters to face the tough stuff -- addiction, betrayal, guilt, assault, disbelonging -- while finding their joy -- often in each other. (Steamy t4t love/sex scenes: check!) Plett's stories are stunning and moving and full of heart -- I'm excited for this book to greet the world.
Profile Image for Skye Kilaen.
Author 14 books318 followers
January 2, 2022
This collection of trans short stories is so amazing that I had to take breaks several times to let what I'd read so far sink in. Casey Plett is so unbelievably talented. Not an easy read, because the various characters go through *so* much, but I was blown away by this book. I can't wait to see what she publishes next.
Profile Image for Fraser Simons.
Author 9 books242 followers
November 6, 2021
The thing I like about this the most is how organic everything feels. Interactions and relationships feel not only believable, but textured. Sparse prose. Accessible. Does not engage in pain olympics like so much fiction that gets published demands of non cis white het narratives. Encapsulates nuanced of Canadian life and culture, again, easily, dynamically, and casually.

It’s a deceptively complex, writing something that gels and appears seamless. To keep a reader going when it’s “just” a daily, lived experience that is nuanced and real in a messy way, non-after-school-special way. Heck, I’d wager it’s tough to keep someone reading where any character is just dealing with an hollywoodized problem. Where conflict isn’t charged in to pick up a pace. Or where the inciting incident isn’t the hook for the short story.

This is great story craft. And where other short stories suffer, with a lack of cohesiveness and an uneven collection for a reader, this chooses to plot a through line with a series of interconnected short stories between the ones that are a big incongruous. Very smart choice, structurally and I was surprised at how affecting the story became broken up that way as well. Essentially egg to fully realized identity, but the subtle ways, especially around a messy relationship across it, was really well handled and deftly conveyed some internalized issues with both parties.

Bit criminal this didn’t at least make the short list, imo. By far and away beats out a couple of them, in my mind. The only jagged edges I could spot, which is why this is a 4.5 rounded up, is with some dialogue—only in certain stories. Where it was a bit stilted and felt like it changed the voice of the character to have something specific come across. One other very short story I didn’t connect with the voice on. And that’s why that throughline was an absolutely fantastic idea. Very impressed. Perhaps the only 5 star short story collection I’ve read. I can’t remember another off hand, anyway.
Profile Image for Anna.
1,503 reviews249 followers
January 13, 2022
Wow. I'm not huge on literary fiction. It's something that my brain struggles with and I don't read a lot of it anymore. That being said I found that when I do read it I have to do it via audio. When I got approved for this from NetGalley, I was thrilled that it is narrated by the author and the audiobook was fantastic. She does a wonderful job of bringing all of her characters to life.

This is an anthology with a few stories in it all with trans women MCs. The first is about Hazel and Christopher who were childhood friends and reconnect and adulthood after Hazel's transition. This was my favorite of the stories and I think it comes down to how flawed everyone is. There is not a character in the story that is unblemished and every single one has some sort of negative trait that allows the reader to connect with them in their humanness. People are flawed and the story in particular kind of tricks you and then hits you with it at the end.

All the stories in this book feature flawed humans. There's no romanticizing of anything here. These are realistic and messy and dramatic and angsty stories. In the story with Vera and Iris there is content warnings for sexual assault and relationship abuse including gaslighting and manipulation. This is the longest story and was a bit difficult to follow at times. It spans multiple decades for Vera and while it was difficult to follow it was also realistically messy. She goes through a lot of life changes in relationships and experiences and moves towns and experiences life.

In what I'm pretty sure is the last one Gemma and Ava are two trans women who kind of navigate a relationship together. I'm not actually positive that the character's name is Gemma it could be Jenna. Because I listen to this as an audiobook I'm going based on what I heard and I have no spelling context for this. This was my least favorite and I'm not sure why necessarily it just didn't hit as hard for me. Hazel and Christopher story is pretty short and then Vera and Iris the story is really long and so Gemma and Ava's story falls somewhere in the middle and terms of length. It's still a good story and it tackles a lot of big issues specifically including alcoholism and addiction, but it wasn't my favorite of the anthology.

I definitely recommend this to people who enjoy literary fiction and to readers who enjoy the messier side of life and characters. This book is full of queer people. So many queer people. Each story has multiple trans women in it, Vera and iris's story has additional trans men and gay men and lesbians and I'm pretty sure that Ava and Gemma story has a bi or lesbian character.

If you are an audiobook listener or even if you're not, this would be a wonderful intro audiobook. The narration is fantastic and the stories are mostly followable without having text in front of you.

As a whole, I don't know that I will relisten to this necessarily but I did really enjoy it. The way that I'm doing ratings this year is a bit odd and so I'm not even sure where to put this. It's one that I recommend but probably won't reread.

CWs: drug addiction, alcohol addiction, alcohol use, explicit sex, sexual assault, rape, transphobia, homophobia, use of the f-slur, internalized transphobia, internalized homophobia, internalized lesbophobia, transphobic comments from a parent, loss of friendships, brief mention of ABDL and age play.

Takes place in a couple US states and in multiple areas of Canada.
Profile Image for Tina.
697 reviews108 followers
September 11, 2021
A DREAM OF A WOMAN by Casey Plett is an amazing short story collection! I loved this book! All of the stories revolve around transgender women and it was so easy to relate to them as women and humans. I loved the unique storytelling of “Obsolution” which is told in several parts throughout this book. It was my fave as we really get to know those characters but I really enjoyed all of the stories. There were several lines that made me go YES and I especially loved the stories set in Canada. I loved the main themes of finding yourself, finding connections and the beauty of everyday life written in the best possible way. Pick up this book!! I need to get my hands on Casey’s previous book Little Fish now! I loved her writing!
And a big CONGRATS to Casey for A Dream of a Woman being chosen for the 2021 Scotiabank Giller Prize longlist!
Thank you to Arsenal Pulp Press for my advance reading copy!
Profile Image for Sarah Cavar.
Author 11 books170 followers
June 10, 2022
Plett is an unbelievably talented writer. Little Fish was already an incredible book, and somehow she has outdone herself with A Dream — I’m particularly impressed with the smooth interweaving of narratives to create a text that isn’t quite novel but isn’t quite story collection, either. There is something — a lot of somethings! — to be said about trans intertextuality. Plett’s attention to the subtle and unsubtle entangling of coming-of-gender stories (and the sometimes-claustrophobic closeness of material queer/trans communities) is so welcome, and, as always, her ability to write emotion so real I can physically sense it absolutely blows my mind. This is going to be one of my best books of 2022, for sure.
Profile Image for gabby.
102 reviews4 followers
June 23, 2022
such flawed characters but you can’t help but feel for them. i loved this
Profile Image for Saivani.
42 reviews2 followers
August 4, 2023
4.5 stars I love that these stories centred trans women and spoke about many topics like intimate partner violence, religion, finding community, etc.
Profile Image for Melinda Worfolk.
613 reviews18 followers
February 5, 2022
Casey Plett is an amazing writer. I liked her previous book, Little Fish, but I thought this book was even better. I particularly loved “Obsolution,” which is like chapters of a novella interspersed between other unrelated short stories. I considered just reading all the instalments of “Obsolution” one after the other, but in the end decided not to, and I think I enjoyed that more, because I was always happy to return to the main characters after a little time away from them. It was like seeing old friends. There is pain in all these stories but also joy, and I found myself really rooting for the characters to live their best lives and find happiness.

Plett writes so beautifully about trans women’s experiences, and writes beautifully in general. I always get the feeling she loves her main characters and treats them tenderly as an author, no matter what their life circumstances throw at them. I will definitely read her next book.

Content warnings: Assault, sexual assault, alcohol addiction, violence and discrimination against trans and queer characters
Profile Image for literaryelise.
393 reviews102 followers
June 3, 2022
I’m not going to give this a star rating because I honestly don’t think I can. Because on one hand I loved this- reading this I sometimes I felt like Plett had picked my brain in order to write it. I love how deeply trans all of Plett’s work is and has been (re: her previous novel Little Fish that I’ve also read). Plett is a trans woman who writes about trans women for trans women. I love that. However, I did find myself having to skip parts of this book because of how graphically triggering some of this book’s content was. There was no warning going into it and it honestly put me in a very bad place for a few hours. This book is not for everyone and as much as I enjoyed certain parts- because of some of the graphic triggers, I think I am one of the people this is not for.

cw: alcoholism, sexual content, transphobia, gay slurs, graphic depictions of sexual assault.
Profile Image for Roz.
417 reviews28 followers
September 12, 2021
An absolutely powerful collection of stories about people trying to hack in not always great situations, but always treated with kindness and generosity by Plett, who has a voice that’s completely unique. She writes about real people, ones you can imagine running into at the food basics, and even in only a few pages she makes them come alive. It’s a magic trick, it’s estrodial realism. And when she stretches out, like on “Enough Trouble” she paints with broad strokes, capturing scenes of beauty and raw emotion. Nobody writes sex like her; nobody writes a blackout as well, either. Recommended.
Profile Image for Akshata.
52 reviews2 followers
May 1, 2023
Ideally I think I would give this a 3.5 maybe. I really liked a few of the stories, “Hazel and Christopher” the first story really made a big impression on me. I’m so happy to start reading more about trans lives and experiences. These stories aren’t just about women and their trans journey, they are also about these women’s relationships, their addictions, their experiences, their dreams. I will admit I do feel like the collection of stories did seem to drag on a bit towards the end. I loved “Obsolution” at first truly, but by the end I was dreading it a little. I’m happy to have read this book and I really enjoyed the author’s soothing voice reading this to me. 10/10 audiobook experience. Her Canadian writing and accent did have me saying “eh” a few times in my everyday speech.
Profile Image for Luca Suede.
64 reviews47 followers
April 4, 2023
Sooo much better than I thought it was going to be! Most appreciated the character building work, everyone felt so fleshed out even in the briefer stories.
Profile Image for Ygraine.
574 reviews
January 29, 2022
this collection nudged at some tender, bruisey places for me. my granddad, who i never called opa, who was born into a big mennonite farming family, who had memories i never heard first-hand, who spoke english for all his adult life but learnt german later as a way of remembering, who i wonder about often, now that i'm grown up and ready to understand, now that he's no longer here to tell me who he was before he was the granddad i knew. also a lot of university memories, blurry nights and panicked phone calls and so, so many conversations with people i loved abt why what had happened to them wasn't okay, the complicated networks of love and trust and betrayals of trust and dependence and un-safety. so like. i don't want to measure a book's value by how personally Relatable i found it, but i think there's a degree of softness i feel that comes from v specific points of contact and similarity, that tangles up my memories and relationships with my experience of reading ?

(maybe the softness also comes with listening to this as an audiobook, narrated by the author, bc there is something companionable & warm abt hearing her words in her voice.)

all of the above makes it sound as though i Loved this book, and i didn't, which feels unfair somehow but is the truth. i appreciate a lot of the emotional Meat of the stories, their conflicts & resolutions, their deeply real-feeling Feelings, but stylistically, they sort of blurred together for me? and maybe this comes down to personal preference, because i think it's much harder to have the sort of crisp, story by story clarity i like outside of fabulism and genre fiction - it makes sense that a collection of stories about relationships, friendships, trauma, addiction, transness and family have overlapping themes, use a relatively unchanging language and tone and register. i just struggled to find enough contrast to keep everything distinct, to feel that sharp, immediate, ambiguous hook of Something that lodges itself in my brain and stays there.

(thanks to netgalley for the advance audio copy!)
Profile Image for Solly.
467 reviews30 followers
July 1, 2023
I didn't know much about this going in except that some reviewers I liked loved it, so from the cover I kinda expected this to be horror/SFF trans stories but they turned out to be contemporary stories about trans girls.

I loved this collection. Not every story hit as hard for me but the ones that hit were so damn excellent. My favourites were Obsolution, Hazel and Christopher, and Enough Trouble. I'm not always big on short story collections but this one really did it for me.
Profile Image for Amy Biggart.
393 reviews458 followers
October 11, 2022
The writing is so stunning and wonderful, but it’s a heavy one and shouldn’t be gone into lightly. Lots of content warnings.

I’m going to review this after it’s sunk in, but wow can Casey Plett write beautiful, heartbreaking, honest stories. I just loved it.
Profile Image for Hannah Gordon.
551 reviews495 followers
April 6, 2023
A collection of short stories centering trans women. My favorite is and ongoing series called “Obsolution.” Some of these are quite sad. All painfully human. The characters are so vivid, in all their wonderful/horrible/lovely/fucked-up-ness.
1,185 reviews6 followers
April 13, 2022
This is an excellent collection of the realistic, sometimes messy, sometimes not, always interesting lives of a bunch of transwomen. The characters were really well written, and their stories are sort of interwoven.
Casey Plett is now one for me to watch, as these stories are funny and sad and really great. I loved her characters.
Profile Image for dean.
31 reviews
July 17, 2023
ngl i cried a lot w this one. too many parallels, shared anxieties. will i remember much of this style? maybe not. but!: no one does it like Mennonite girls.
Profile Image for Ash.
361 reviews293 followers
August 13, 2023
Casey Plett is climbing up my favorite authors list. Little Fish was the first book in a long time that I felt compelled to just gift randomly to people, because it was so important to me to have other people read it. And I feel a sort of kinship with her, because although we've never crossed paths, we've lived in the same places at nearly the same times and she writes a version of Portland that I recognize. Her characters are people I've known.

If anything, I think that I liked this collection even more than Little Fish, and I'm not often a fan of short stories. Plett has a talent for pacing and for structure, so that every story here felt exactly as long as it needed to be. "Enough Trouble" was a standout for me, and "Obsolution", but there weren't any stories that I'd skip on a reread.
Profile Image for Emily.
472 reviews17 followers
July 6, 2022
fucking SAD but brimming over with so much emotion and care and hope despite it all. loved
Profile Image for Moe Chowdhury.
24 reviews
April 25, 2022
Gender gender gender feels. Loved meeting such funny characters. The way Obsolution unfolded was beautiful. Can't wait to get my hands on Little Fish and whatever else Plett writes.
Profile Image for Roo Dunbar.
8 reviews
July 29, 2022
i love this collection of stories and i love the audiobook (casey plett on spotify)!

plett writes about the tangle of relationships, love and self-worth in a really compelling way. there’s a strong thread throughout of characters seeking to connect to their own bodies and desires while also navigating how they are perceived by loved ones and how they want to connect to others during that process. i admire the way plett captured how lonely, anxiety-inducing and frustrating is. it leads to a very satisfying exploration of anger that has changed the way i think about emotional processing and authenticity and having the capacity to share that with other people
Profile Image for Cleo Mace.
15 reviews
June 5, 2022
A beautiful selection of short stories about trans womanhood. There is a lot of sadness in Casey Plett’s work, but throughout this book is so much hope and love and healing. Coming back to this book even just months after first reading it, I am finding so much new and fruitful writing. The recurring story “obsolution” remains one of the best transition narratives I’ve ever read, but not only that, it’s such a wonderful, complex tale. For anyone who can handle some difficult material (re alcohol abuse, grief in the vicinity of suicide) I really would recommend this, especially to other transfems.

It’s also really hot, if you wanna read about trans ppl having good good sex have a read it’s 👌
Displaying 1 - 30 of 195 reviews

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