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Normally Special

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4.25 of 5 stars 4.25  ·  rating details  ·  169 ratings  ·  41 reviews
A collection of 23 big, fierce stories by xTx.
Paperback, First, 96 pages
Published 2011 by Tiny Hardcore Press
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(showing 1-30 of 489)
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Richard Thomas
This review was originally published at The Nervous Breakdown:

“It is difficult to masturbate about your father, but not impossible, as it turns out.”

“I am the Champion of Failure.”

“What I do remember most though, are the fireflies and how she proved that they were real by squishing one across her palm. It left a fluorescent streak. It made me feel like screaming.”

“On my way down I’d wonder if I would ever be found and how nice it would feel to be looked for.”

Raw is the first word that came to mi
...more
Ben
As all the pieces swirl around, leaving the reader at time breathless, other times sad, I couldn't help but think that ultimately, these are stories about control, losing it, wanting to gain it, fantasizing about it, having it ripped away, and maybe worse of all at times, having it imposed on us, even in small, but terribly cutting ways, such as the protagonist in "The Art of Folding Towels," who is never going to get it right, can't get it right, won't get it right, because there is no right an ...more
Tom
I didn't expect to read this book, as it arrived at my desk and needed to be assigned to a reviewer, but in part because the book is so short and in part because the stories are so one of a kind, I finished it quickly and enjoyed every story. I'm withholding a star because I found overall the book too short. I know you kids and your flash fiction like the brief and arresting capture of a moment, but we old fogies wouldn't mind seeing (I'm talking to you Extie) a little more of an extended presen ...more
Ani Smith
read this last year and hadn't logged into goodreads for awhile, but that doesn't matter because a lot of it is still fresh in mind, a testament to the powerpunch one-two this little sucker's packing.

having read her blog for ages and even collaborated with her a time or two, it's been wonderful to watch extie progress from like a naturally gifted feral blogger wild chick, into a hearty storyteller of great substance, passion and mettle. from the beginning, i feel like extie and i were attracted
...more
Dennis
Beside myself with how good this collection was
Kathy
Powerful writing. This can be read in one sitting and leaves the reader a little breathless and stunned. Highly recommended.
xTx xTx
Mar 14, 2012 xTx xTx rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  (Review from the author)
Edward Rathke
--For a moment I feel invisible. For a moment I want to stay there.--

I believe those two sentences sum up the collection quite nicely. These are stories of loss, stories of survival that speak frankly and directly about their subject matter, which is often dark, always heavy. These are women struggling with life, from the mundane to the harrowing, from never feeling adequate to complete loss and despair to innocence being stolen. Some moments will break your heart while others will make you hope
...more
J.A.
"Listen: For better or worse I read a ton of books, & I am treated to the growth of presses, the sophomore-slump of authors, the brush of writers with greatness & the heavy sink of a hole in a book that opens & will not shut up again. So when you read what is a book that is a book like xTx’s Normally Special, forthcoming from Tiny Hardcore Press, it is important to write of it where everyone can see, & where people can learn to read the words that are words that mean so much..."

r
...more
Brian
i had this thought as i was reading these stories, and i don't know if it is true or not or some third thing. i'm curious what other people might think in relation to these stories.

hypothesis: it is possible to write from weakness but not from strength.
eg: a rape victim can cut off any man's dick but a man cannot confess to kissing his sleeping neice.
counterexample: The Woodsman

this was something i was thinking about while reading these stories and never coming to any kind of firm conclusion,
...more
Mel Bosworth
The stories in this collection ooze with the paradox of strength in vulnerability. The narrator is often trapped, humiliated, invisible, and neglected, and author xTx captures these transgressions so tightly and beautifully that the texts surge as if they've been plugged into an electrical outlet, searing the veins of captivity from the inside out.

xTx is ready to be heard, and we need to be ready to listen.

Highly recommended.
Shannon Peil
I'm really glad that we have xTx and that she's been growing so out of control. She's like a gremlin that the scene kept feeding after midnight and she erupted into this insane writing monster and I'm thankful for that.

I read this book and carefully counted the number of times 33 was written, but it wasn't 33 times, it was only 6 times.
Ben Loory
"the art of folding towels" is one of the most powerful stories i have ever read. i literally think about it every day. i'd have it memorized if my memory worked. but even remembering it only in bits and pieces gets me all choked up. seriously amazing story, fantastic ending. and the rest of the book is pretty damn good, too.
Ash
Apr 18, 2015 Ash rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: recs
The stories in Normally Special often feel like nothing. Tiny fragments, sketches of scenes, often rendered in just a page or two. Indeed this pocket-sized volume manages to pack in twenty-three stories. Scenes of the horror of the domestic life, of child abuse and its consequences, of obsession, and others, harder to classify.

I can't remember how I found out about xTx. Maybe it was one of goodreads' impenetrable algorithms that brought her to the surface. Maybe it was through Roxane Gay. And wh
...more
Ursula
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jim
May 16, 2011 Jim rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Flash fiction fans
Recommended to Jim by: Vouched
Shelves: small-press
An uncommonly good collection of short short stories from Tiny Hardcore press. I liked the pocket-sized dimensions (and at 4.5" x 5.5" it really does fit in your pocket) and there's a nice variety of stories. I really liked "Water Is Thrown on the Witch," in which a stray thought exposes the lie that defines the narrator's arrangement with her lover. It's a stunning story, a mastepiece of compression. A very teachable example of "What flash fiction can do." Of course, I didn't respond to every s ...more
Aaron Marks
This is what I / anyone should aspire to when writing 'micro-fiction.' The more traditional 'short story'-length pieces were really nice as well. Very emotional + effective + unique / pretty language. My one gripe would be a lack of variety among the narrators ... thematic cohesion can be nice, but this felt almost like some narrators were the same person (maybe they were?), and the thing is this one narrator who pervades many of the stories is one i had a hard time relating to. But this is more ...more
Caitlyn (ReadOrDie)
3.5/5

Favorite stories: The Importance of Folding Towels, Standoff, She Who Subjected the Sun, The Mill Pond, There was no mother in that house. There were a lot of boys and men and there was me. That is all. That is how it was., & An Unsteady Place
Brent Reichenberger
It's a very tiny book that hits you like a very big bag of bricks.
Melanie Jennings
I can't say enough about this book. I got it as a bonus book when I ordered Brian Oliu's So You Know It's Me (another amazing book) and let it sit around on my coffee table for far too long before actually reading it. The stories and vignettes here are carefully described, deeply disturbing, and totally realistic. "The Mill Pond" has stayed with me for days.

I hope xTx keeps writing the world as she experiences it. I look forward to reading more of her work.
Hosho
I don't know xTx, but after reading Normally Special, I want to. It's very clearly a book written by a writer both wildly perceptive and well-versed in intimacy--be it fierce and lovely, or brutal and ugly. The book has moments of such quiet violence balanced against a primal, evocative, edge-of-collapse kind of confidence. It's a delicate and intoxicating glimpse into a world I look forward to reading more of.
Timothy
This book stays with you like a highway accident, the one where the cars slow down and look---yet don't want to look, but then there's a sheet covering someone on the road's shoulder and you can't shake that image for the next few days. Sexy, sad, brutal and wordsworthy---(even if I had to make up that word).

Only issue I had is that it should have been bigger, longer, fatter...weighing in at only 96 pages.
Jim Ivy
I love the way xTx constructs thoughts and plots. Everything fit together so well, yet there is never any rush to complete setting or set up or character before its needed. No words are forced and no ideas are hurried. Maybe it just fits so well with how I think or how I read, but, for me, it feels so perfect; no matter the length of story, it's just right.
Jenn
Impressive, amusing, and interesting. I was really caught off guard a couple of times and found myself aching for some of the characters and I loved that. There were so many stories in this book made me hope that there will be spin offs into books of their own.
Brittany
xTx is comprised of beautiful, gritty grains. Her writing is not velvet, not oatmeal--so I read her at night. I plan to read "Normally Special" several more times before I turn ninety-seven. This book is dangerously crucial.
D.J. Berndt
Do yourself a favor and expose yourself to this book. You will then become an xTx fan, that's just a fact. Then you can read her blog and be friend, and that will enrich your life even more. Just... just read this book ASAP.
Michael
This book is small and beautiful. I made a video where I talk about it. You can watch it here: http://www.wingchairbooks.com/2011/03...
Steven
I love it when a writer bleeds on the page, no holding back. These are sledgehammers against your fort. Batten down, read on, feel.
Dawn
This collection is tight, beautiful, and brutal as fuck. xTx does not disappoint. She will knock your proverbial dick in the dirt.
Robb Todd
Best book in history with the greatest cover in history.
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