Ivan E. Coyote is the author of several collections of short stories as well as a novel, Bow Grip. Coyote, who is also a well-known oral story teller, often deals with lesbian themes. However, as Straight.com contributor Alexander Varty noted: "The wonder of Coyote's stories ... is that even the straightest reader will be touched by their generous heart, and by the seeming immediacy of their kitchen-table clarity." Varty added: "But ... their construction is not always as straightforward as it might appear."
Coyote's debut collection, Close to Spider Man: Stories, deals with remembrances from the author's childhood in Canada's Yukon Territory. As Herizons contributor Maria Stan Borough noted, these stories "captured the essence of how a life unfolds with gentle honesty." The interlocking tales of this first collection depict a fictional protagonist very much like Coyote herself. She grows up in the Yukon, living a tomboy existence, one that ultimately makes her find the boy in herself.
One of the stories, "Manifestation," deals with the protagonist's growing awareness of her true sexuality. A dirt moustache results from a day's work as a landscaper, and she decides to leave it there, much to the dismay of her fellow workers. "With an adept and concise hand, Coyote is able to take the reader to new and unexpected places, the true gift of a talented writer," Borough further remarked. Additional praise came from Lambda Book Report reviewer Rachel Kramer Bussel, who found Close to Spider Man "powerful in its imagery of growing up queer and trans in the Yukon."
In her second collection, One Man's Trash: Stories, Coyote also features tales of the Yukon, as well as road trips, stories about family, love affairs, and the casual enjoyments of everyday life. Bussel, again writing in the Lambda Book Report, stated: "It's the shortest stories that work the most magic, that capture a moment or a personality and reframe them, turning something as mundane as a childhood game or grocery shopping into a chance to meet someone new or see the world in a slightly different way." For Bussel, the stories in One Man's Trash are "the essence of simplicity."
Reviewing Coyote's third collection, Loose End: Stories,...