"Sarah Rose Etter's The Book of X is dizzying and grotesqueand I say that with the utmost love. It's an astute exploration of humanity and the bodyspecifically the female bodythrough the lens of young Cassie... Etter has built an eerie, surreal world... and she seduces you into it with dreamy lyricism. You won't want to leave."Arianna Rebolini, BuzzFeed News, '29 Summer Books To Get Excited About'
“In the utterly unique and remarkable The Book of X, Sarah Rose Etter takes the surreal and expertly shapes it into a portrait that is as beautiful and compelling as it is horrifying and unbearable... Etter brilliantly, viciously lays bare what it means to be a woman in the world, what it means to hurt, to need, to want, so much it consumes everything.”Roxane Gay, author of Bad Feminist
"I loved every page of this gorgeous, grotesque, heartbreaking novel."Carmen Maria Machado, author ofHer Body and Other Parties
"Penned in succinct, poetic prose, Etter’s surreal debut is exactly as grotesque and horrifying as young adulthood."Courtney Eathorne,Booklist
"With poetic prose and haunting honesty, The Book of X cuts clean to the tangled heart of femininity, unwinding one woman’s story to reflect a familiar self."Danielle Ballantyne,Foreword Reviews
"A relentlessly original look at what it means to exist in a female body."Kirkus Reviews
"Etter’s ultrastylized and surreal debut casts a reflection that, like a carnival mirror, points aptly... at humanity’s defects. Etter’s coming-of-age story builds intrigue as it morphs into a portrait of a young woman adrift."Publisher's Weekly
“Insightful and incisive, this book cuts deep into the failing heart of the feminine mystique. Etter is a surgeon.”Amelia Gray, author of Isadora and Gutshot
“The Book of X traverses the mundane and the surrealfrom grocery lists to blooming meat, menstrual blood to a jealousy removal shoplaying bare the absurdities of womanhood. A truly original writer, Etter continues to push the boundaries of her imagination...and ours.”Melissa Broder, author of The Pisces
“Taut, macabre, with wounds electric, The Book of X will take your head off while staring dead-on into your eyes. Move over, Angela Carter, there's a new boss in the Meat Quarry, and she is fearless, relentless, ready to feast.”Blake Butler, author of There Is No Year and 300,000,000
“Sarah Rose Etter is a visionary. Perfectly paced, structurally audacious, and endlessly inventiveThe Book of X is our new Revelation. Actually it's better than that. Etter's prose digs with emotion and a thousand unforgettable images. They just twist themselves deeper and deeper into your guts. It'll probably take years to cut them out.”Scott McCLanahan, author of The Sarah Book and Crapalachia
Praise for Sarah Rose Etter's Tongue Party (Caketrain Press, 2011): "If these stories were films, they’d be early Hal Hartley meets John Waters."Tara Murtha, Philadelphia Weekly
"Though the volume feels thin in your hand, don’t let this fool you; the collection is packed full of gorgeous, jarring stories."Blythe Davenport, Philadelphia Stories
"Watching each beautiful, terrifying, utterly bizarre story unfold is part of what makes reading this cohesive collection so enjoyable."Melissa Reddish, Emprise Review
"It’s like nothing you have ever read before."A Little Tete-A-Tete"[Etter is a] literary sniperthese brief fables are single shots to the dome. She needs no more than a page or two to bring you to your knees."Dawn West, PANK Magazine
"There’s a visceral quality to these stories that sometimes calls to mind the work of Brian Evenson."Tobias Carroll, Volume 1 Brooklyn
"This book is an odd look at relationships, a bit of mirror, a bit of shattered mirror glass, I mean to say a sharpened edge that might just hold our own face."Sean Lovelace, HTML Giant
A "Most Anticipated Book of 2019" John Madera,Big Other
A girl born with an unusual disfigurement navigates the loneliness and trauma caused by her physical difference in this surreal first novel.
Cassie comes from a long line of women born with a knotted torso. These knots aren't small bulges, like a knotted muscle. "Picture," Cassie tells us, "three women with their torsos twisted like thick pieces of rope with a single hitch in the center." At school, Cassie is tormented by her classmates; her only friend, Sophia, runs hot and cold with her affections, and Cassie's crush, Jarred, finds her both attractive and repulsive. At home, things are not much better. Each day Cassie's dad and brother go off to the nearby Meat Quarry, tearing raw meat from vast cavern walls and selling it at the market when demand is strong. Cassie's mother is reaching the age when her knot begins to cause her severe physical pain; she turns her ferocious attention on Cassie's appearance, encouraging her daughter to slim down by packing her rocks for lunch. When an act of violence shatters whatever uneasy peace Cassie has made with her own body, she must spend the rest of her life dealing with the dark aftermath. Etter, who has one previous collection of short fiction (Tongue Party, 2011), structures this book in fragments, alternating the story of Cassie's physical struggles with sections called "Vision," in which Cassie imagines an alternate life for herself. The surreality highlights the unbearably visceral way Cassie sees the world, whether she's helping her father harvest meat with her bare hands from the "red wetness" of the quarry, wandering through fields of throats, or having electric eels applied to her abdomen in the futile hope of becoming normal.
A relentlessly original look at what it means to exist in a female body.