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Posted June 3, 2010
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.
Posted April 14, 2010
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.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.