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The Book of X

4.61  ·  Rating details ·  79 ratings  ·  31 reviews
The Book of X tells the tale of Cassie, a girl born with her stomach twisted in the shape of a knot. From childhood with her parents on the family meat farm, to a desk job in the city, to finally experiencing love, she grapples with her body, men, and society, all the while imagining a softer world than the one she is in.
Paperback, 284 pages
Published July 16th 2019 by Two Dollar Radio
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4.61  · 
Rating details
 ·  79 ratings  ·  31 reviews

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Mar 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
There is a quarry made of meat, marbled rich with fat. There is a family who lives at the meat quarry’s edge. There is a girl who lives with a knotted body, as does her mother, as does her mother’s mother. There is a girl who yearns to be seen with kind eyes, to be touched with soft hands, to be loved by an open heart. In the utterly unique and remarkable The Book of X, Sarah Rose Etter has crafted an intriguing world not quite like our own. She takes the surreal and expertly shapes it into a po ...more
The Nerd Daily
Jun 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Originally published on The Nerd Daily | Review by Beth Mowbray

The Book of X follows Cassie, a girl who is born with her stomach literally twisted in a knot, from her childhood into her adult years. Cassie is raised on a meat farm, a piece of land with an enormous quarry where her father and brother work all day mining meat. Cassie’s overbearing mother spends her days obsessively cleaning the house and even more obsessively harping on Cassie’s appearance while pretending to ignore her own knotte
Jan 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: small-presses, 2019
A taut, devastating novel concerning the body as landscape. Readers upset by the grosteque or surreal need not apply.
Cassie (book__gal)
Apr 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I’m obsessed with this book! Sarah Rose Etter has shown how you can push fiction to its bounds, break through, and create a wonderful, eccentric blend of storytelling, surrealism, insight into the female experience, and visceral portrayals of humanity and the loneliness, pain, and longing that come with it.

Etter’s shrewdness regarding female suffering, being different, and societal expectations of normality are what makes this narrative so powerful. We follow Cassie, born with her stomach tied
Hannah Colton
Feb 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Beautiful, haunting, viscerally affecting, with brilliant layers of commentary on society's exploitation, scrutiny, and consumption of women's bodies (and bodies in general). If you're a fan of Geek Love by Katherine Dunn, you'll get into this.
Lolly K Dandeneau
Jun 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
via my blog:
"I’M NOT RELIGIOUS, but I damn well prayed”, my mother says, exhaling smoke over the kitchen table. “I rubbed the rosaries raw that you would take after your father.”

Cassie doesn’t take after her father, despite her mother’s desperately raw prayers. Born, like her mother and her mother before her, cursed by a rare inheritance of twisted stomachs in the shape of a knot that they conceal beneath their clothing. Living on a farm in the acres, Cassi
Caleb Masters
Apr 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Cassie X was born with a knot in her torso, just like her mother and her mother before. Her family lives next to and operates a meat quarry. Cassie wants nothing more than to be rid of her knot and experience all the things that life says she can’t. With compellingly strange imagery and sharp, spare writing; Sarah Rose Etter has composed a small masterpiece. Using throat fields, a rushing river of thighs, black crystals of jealous thoughts, and mining for meat; Etter says so much about what it m ...more
Mar 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book reads like a work of art and a fever dream all rolled into one; I truly couldn't put it down. Etter paints a surreal and unforgiving portrait of societal treatment towards unruly bodies, so much so, the familiarity will twist your insides and make you ache. The writing is beautiful—rich and intoxicating, marbled with fat, bloody and fierce. It touches on a sense of longing buried deep in every reader.
Juliet Escoria
Jun 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book is hypnotizing, with flawless writing and wholly original images. I loved the structure, especially the visions. Tender, weird, and beautiful. I recommend not eating any steak while reading this book or ~2 weeks after.
Jun 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
The women = meat analogy this book revolves around is spot on.
It also tackles women's health and how it's not taken seriously. So good.
Apr 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
4.5 Stars

A taunt, visceral meditation on the female body through the life of a woman born with a knot in her middle, all while she dreams of a less cruel, sharp world.
Beth M.
May 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I just finished The Book of X this afternoon and quite honestly feel that I need some additional time for processing. But here is what I know without a doubt: you need to read this book! It is one of the most profound, visceral, mind-bending reading experiences that I have had in a very long time. For now, though, here are some initial thoughts ...

This story follows Cassie, a girl who is born with her stomach twisted in a knot, through her childhood living with her family on a meat farm (yep, th
Afton Montgomery
Apr 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book is PERFECT. It's all of the little pieces I've loved about my favorite books of recent years combined into one masterpiece. Sarah Rose Etter has the gruesome meat metaphors of Sam Munson's Dog Symphony. She conducts the horribly embodied understandings of femininity that I remember from Cristina Rivera Garza's The Iliac Crest. Her character's love affair and the romancing of the things that harm her are Ocean Vuong's On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous and Kaveh Akbar's Calling a Wolf a Wo ...more
Ben Niespodziany
Apr 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Relentless, disgusting, grotesque, brutal, painful, deeply sad.

Magical, beautiful, moving, surreal, fabulist, tender, dreamy.

I'm not sure if any novel has thrown me harder through a brick wall. This parable will split you in two and only you get to choose if you want to keep the top half or the bottom half.

Joshua Bohnsack
Mar 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is the best book I’ve read all year. Etter’s world is singular yet universal. It’s both surreal and human.
Christy Rogers
Jun 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I feel like The Book of X was written for me and by me. As I was reading I had to stop myself from digging in and clawing my way through the twisted story of Cassie's knot and home in her family's meat quarry. The imagery and metaphors are spot on and ingenious and make you cringe with disgust and empathy. Etter is a genius, and completely unpretentious. She understands the human condition and perfectly put into words the struggle of being a woman in this world. This has been my favorite book of ...more
Mar 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
"The Book of X" is a dreamlike exploration of misogyny and life as a woman in a fantasy world that isn't much different from the one we live in. Cassie's body and the cities, towns, and landscapes around her shift in mood and energy as the narrative does. I really enjoyed this book! I'll be returning to it sometime soon.
May 02, 2019 rated it liked it
Out on July 16: Another unfortunate victim of the hype machine. After seeing so many early rave reviews, I was stoked to get an advanced copy. However, my excitement quickly died down once I got about a quarter of the way through.

The book centers around Cassie who comes from a line of women born with literal knots in their stomachs. The knot can signify all sorts of physical or emotional burdens one carries, and we know Cassie wants her knot removed. Then there’s the meat quarry (this is a surr
Paperback Paris
Jul 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
—The review below was authored by Paperback Paris Staff Writer, Rachel Gonzalez. Read more.

Sarah Rose Etter's debut The Book of X finds the perfect balance between prose and poetry — the beautiful and grotesque. Following the life of woman afflicted with a rare genetic condition — one that has afflicted only her mother and hers before her — that twists her abdomen into a visible knot. It’s a life of judgment and rejection that makes her feel like an outcast. As she grows up, Cassie is faced wi
Jul 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Step into the extraordinary life of Cassie living with a knot with a hypnotic first person narration, one venturing into surrealism, haunting visions, a coming of age tale to womanhood, her home the Acres, at school, the meat quarry, the country to the big city, with the complexities with kin and friends, pursuing a kind of happiness and self discovery, a cycling life, harvesting and learning of many things, not keeping away away from the rocking horse, rock diet or meat quarry, lemons, a boy, m ...more
In The Book of X we meet Cassie, a complicated young woman who was born with a unique genetic mutation, her stomach is literally twisted into a knot, a disfigurement that seems to be passed down to each female in the family. Told in a barrage of flash fictiony vignettes, we become hopeless observers as Cassie alternates between moments of severe self-love and self-hate, falling victim to bullying, developing a lukewarm friendship with a girl named Sophia, manuevering through awkward parental rel ...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
Jul 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Julie W.
Cassie is born with a knot, just like her mother and grandmother. She enters a world of bullying, inadequate medical care, isolation and boredom. Outside of school her life seems intended for repetition of pain and cleaning the walls with lemons, while her father and brother work in the meat quarry, but her life is vivid with visions that provide some form of escape, although it isn't always positive. (It's fascinating to read interviews with the author because she was incredibly isolated in Ice ...more
Jul 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This book is so many things. It is as sharp and surreal as the knotted bodies passed down generation upon generation. It is as raw and tender as the meat quarries and what happens there. Etter's words are cutting as they reflect upon the many twisted defects of humanity. This book is vicious and Etter is unafraid to tear the reader apart. Yes, I did cry.

Stylistically, this book is everything I've ever wanted. Shorts spurts, looking into the life of a woman (and what it means to be one) from bir
Jul 19, 2019 added it
As usual for me: I don't consider what follows to be a review, so much as notes for later reference.

Lately I've been been dealing with physical, chronic pain and also thinking about what pain can be -- slippery, elusive, concrete, remembered, forgotten, a leader, a follower, much more. The Book of X gets at pain from countless and underrepresented angles. ("Gets at" is the best verb I can summon, because the range is too close to be a theme or a study.) It wasn't until I finished it that I reali
Jul 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019
The beauty of this book is not just in the strength of the narrator or the arc of the story, in the surreal landscapes smashed against mundane everyday existence, but in the way Etter loops it all back to us: Our wants, our needs, our suggestibility, our desire to have a life fully in control when life, instead, is as raw and blood-streaked and painful as the Meat Quarry. This is a book to dig into.
Julie Toole
Jul 15, 2019 rated it liked it
This is a very strange book. I must not be into surrealism. I’ve never been good at symbolism, either. Cassie’s dad owns a meat quarry. What is that supposed to represent?

Cassie also has some very odd visions. Maybe that was her way of coping with her life. I did like the purchase of half a man. She choose the top half which gave her companionship.

This heartbreaking story has left me feeling depressed and frustrated.
Roman Colombo
Jul 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
What a mind-bending delight. It's abstract, though blunt, surreal, though painfully blunt, and beautiful, though grotesque. It's paced so well, I found myself reading and reading throughout the night. It's also one of those books that will be in your head for weeks. Without a doubt one of the best new books of the year.
Jul 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
A completely unique look at how it feels to be a woman, The Book of X is for the reader looking for an elevated prose. Beautifully written by Sarah Rose Etter, this book will stay with the reader long after the last page.
Jul 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
My review for Fanzine:
Jul 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I received this today after lunchtime and finished it before dinner.
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Sarah Rose Etter is the author of Tongue Party, selected by Deb Olin Unferth as the winner of the Caketrain Press award, and The Book of X, her first novel, which is available from Two Dollar Radio.

Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Cut, Electric Literature, Guernica, VICE, New York Tyrant, Juked, Night Block, The Black Warrior Review, Salt Hill Journal, The Collagist, and more.

She i
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