Cut Awayby Catherine Kirkwood
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Cut Away is a novel that expertly entwines the lives of three characters struggling to understand the meaning of identity and its seeming mutability.Orbiting around the mystery of a missing teenager, a trio of narrators each tells her story in turn. ALexandra is a transgendered woman who has redused surgery and abandoned Los Angeles for a trailer at the desolate Salton Sea. Asas, the mother of the runaway, wants her grief-ridden face completely transformed. Elanor, a plastic surgeon, is fascinated with surfaces amd wonders whether visual harmony has the power to change what lies beneath.
in a culture obsessed with transforming the body, do the incarnate fiction we create have the power to hide of reveal the truth of who we really are?this is a question that Catherin Kirkwood approaches in a stunning debut novel of desire, self -loathing, and the revisionary madness of our modern world.
- Red Hen Press
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Meet the Author
Catherine Kirkwood holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Goddard University, a PhD in Women's Studies from the University of York, England, and a BS in psychobiology. Her work has appeared in the Pitkin Review, and in the fiction anthology New Voices. Her acclaimed feminist work, Leaving Abusive Partners, has been translated and sold internationally. Cut Away is her debut novel.
Born in Los Angeles, she grew up in a family of physicists and engineers who taught her to inquire about the world deeply, methodically, and rigorously. Her mother passed on a love for wilderness by taking her into the backcountry as soon as she could walk, teaching her to trust passion and instinct to find her way.
Catherine now lives in Seattle in a small, yellow cottage with her partner, a border collie mix, and two vintage cats. When she's not writing, she works as a systems analyst in cancer research.
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Catherine Kirkwood's new novel, CUT AWAY, is set in the California desert as well as in L.A. Against this stark landscape, four characters--a lesbian plastic surgeon, a transsexual woman, an unstable mother and a runaway daughter--all get a bit of an existential makeover. On first glance this might seem the material of a ha-ha reality program. Not so. Not even a little. In Kirkwood's steady hand, questions of identity and beauty are brought delicately to the fore by way of character, each of which seems familiar and fresh at the same time. It's as though the author has taken someone we all know and drawn her while looking through a high-powered lens of compassion that yields a portrait with fresh angles. Who is that, we wonder. Are we really so different? This is a spare novel, and its barren landscape makes the messiness of life pop. What we think we need, what we think we want, how we stumble trying to get them both, this is what the characters struggle with here. Psychologically astute and cinematically rendered, the arduous metamorphosis of these characters will be with you long after the story ends.
Catherine Kirkwood manages in a few short pages to do what many authors take hundreds of pages to miss - she makes us care about her characters. Where many of us would be quick to hang labels, she clothes her characters with an easy humanity that allows the reader to set aside easy judgments and embrace that which is other. With the economy of a poet, she tackles sensitive issues with dignity and grace. A quick and easy read, Cut Away is hard to put down and will leave you wishing you had more time to spend with these remarkable characters and hoping that the second novel is in the works.