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Cut Away

Catherine Kirkwood

Publication Year: 2010

Kirkwood's slender, desolate-feeling first novel, set between the California desert and L.A., hinges on an intricate emotional triangle revolving around a teenage runaway. Alexandra, a middle-aged transvestite living a celibate life on the Salton Sea, befriends the runaway, Olivia, at the girl's desert campsite before Olivia disappears. Eleanor, an L.A. plastic surgeon and a lonely lesbian, saw Olivia once in her office and later unknowingly gives a consult to Olivia's unstable mother, Asa, who has for several years cleaned Eleanor's office at night and begins to track the surgeon's whereabouts once she discovers the doctor's connection to Olivia. Meanwhile, Alexandra, enjoying a flirtation with the surgeon that begins after a body that might be Olivia's is found, stays at Eleanor's canyon home for a month, visited occasionally by Asa, disguised as a door-to-door cosmetics saleswoman. Once Kirkwood maps out the particulars, every maneuver on the part of these characters is fraught with tension. Kirkwood's exploration of personal and spiritual metamorphosis is all the more powerful for its surprising subtleties.

Published by: Red Hen Press

Title Page, Copyright, Acknowledgments

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Dedication

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1. Alexandra

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pp. 1-4

The lake is a mirror with clean, pink sky inside it. I stand at the water’s edge, feeling the slow tilt away from salinity reported by ecologists. It will take years, but she could recover to become that fresh, sporting jewel imagined in her heyday. It’s what I love about...

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2. Eleanor

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pp. 5-47

The images progress relentlessly, as if they are lashed to a straight, iron rod pushed from behind. In one, the girl is slight. A dark-haired ballerina in low-cut brocade and a tiara too large for her head. Her dress fans down into folds of butter cream frosting. Her torso...

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3. Alexandra

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pp. 48-77

Last November, Olivia shows up out of nowhere. She sets up in the lake dunes, out by old shacks half-submerged and falling down. We all leave her alone. Some college kid getting her head together. She’ll be gone by Monday. Debris spills from the city to the bright desert...

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4. Asa

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pp. 78-124

I don’t like coming in here. It is full of secrets my daughter whispered into the ceramic ears of her kitten, the white rabbit, or the spaniel she called Lady. Moonlight slaps the low, single bed, the wooden chair, and the dresser where the animals cast long, strange...

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5. Alexandra

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pp. 125-138

I spend a whole week finishing up at Eleanor’s house. I want to make this right, please myself at least. The furniture arrives, one piece at a time. Men with white gloves pull up in trucks and unload the club chairs, an Italian marble pedestal with the deco Egyptian urn...


E-ISBN-13: 9780980040760
Print-ISBN-13: 9780980040791

Page Count: 152
Publication Year: 2010

Edition: First

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