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xTx

xTx is a writer living in Southern California. She says nothing at notimetosayit.com.

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After reading Normally Special, if I knew xTx’s legal name, I’d file a restraining order. Maybe she’s Aileen Wuornos. Maybe she’s a wiccan living under A.M. Homes’s bed. I don’t know, she freaks me the hell out.

– Blake Butler, author of There Is No Year

Though sometimes brutal, sometimes devastating, I couldn’t look away. Especially not from the skill. Not from the beauty. Not from the truth. xTx is a voice unlike any other I know.

– Ethel Rohan, author of Cut Through the Bone

Understand that this is bone goodness wrapped in massacres of lovely, & if I wasn’t before, I am now an official fan of xTx.

– J. A. Tyler, author of A Man of Glass & All the Ways We Have Failed

xTx’s stories embody the terrors, wounds and deep emotions that tremor through our bodies as we walk around in our daily lives, pretending everything is alright. Nothing is alright of course, but xTx turning our hidden selves into meaningful stories helps a whole hell of a lot.

– Paula Bomer, author of Baby

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Normally Special

Sugar Evil

10/08/11

When I was a little girl, my father told me many times that he believed there was true evil in the world. It wasn’t until years later that I fully understood him, that I knew people could be evil, would be evil, would do evil things.

The backbone of xTx’s “The Mill Pond,” a story in Normally Special, is that unnamed darkness, a violence that can only be hinted at, a horrible act that cannot be spelled out, maybe because anything else would be unbearable.

In “The Mill Pond,” xTx fills us with sugar and evil.

We are trapped in our Tinkerbell’s body and small shirts, we are salivating and lusting after rainbow-hued Kool-Aid cups, sweet Suzy Q’s, stolen cookies. All of the treats are spelled out for us, described, they evoke a visceral reaction in us and our Tinkerbell.

The treats are under the light of Tinkerbell’s narrative, they are a clear desire we share with the character.

What we do not share are the awful things. Mister Dean is described, but his actions are mostly a shadow. Mister Dean does things so evil our Tinkerbell doesn’t have the vocabulary to describe them yet.

This story is the pulse of a young girl on the brink of learning the language of the awful, of the horrible, of the worst things in the world.

When did you learn there was true evil in the world?

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3 Comments

  1. ydde said on 10/08/11 at 1:17 am Reply

    This was a great story in the collection, which I actually have some mixed feelings about. But this is one of the stories that hit hard and well and for all the reasons you mention.

    When did I discover evil? I mean, I was raised in a very traditional Catholic family so the idea of evil was ever present. But I think the first time I felt it as any sort of real thing was when my dog was stolen. I was four or five, I think, and someone came and stole her right out of our yard. Then maybe two or three years later, someone started our garage on fire. Actually, now that I’m thinking about it, I lived in kind of a dangerous neighborhood, so maybe it was a bit more present than I acknowledge.

    But I think the question of evil is maybe different and not as important as to when you stop believing adults as being good and wise and correct, when you stop looking at them as people who will keep you safe and know exactly how to solve everything and begin to just see them as people.

    I’m not sure when that happened to me, but I know it was rather early. I vaguely remember watching my dad yell at my elder brother and just thinking, He’s just a man. It sounds insignificant, but I think it’s one of the most life changing experiences we deal with. At least from my perspective, having been a son to a man who was a father. It changes the way the whole world feels and looks, its shape and texture. On the surface, nothing has changed, but everything changed and could never be the same again.

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  2. ofelia hunt said on 10/08/11 at 1:13 pm Reply

    This is my favorite story in Normally Special. A limited perspective with just enough detail to depress the hell out of the reader. I’m not sure that I agree that there’s true evil in the world, but certainly there are terrible acts, often lined up in kind of terrible train of terribleness. When I was very young our family cat was baseball-batted by someone so that her face was crooked and her meows were something else, but she wanted to live and so we let her for a while. It was a trailer park, and that spring I remember the SWAT team removing my friend and her father from a very small silver bullet style trailer. There were guns and guns and guns in the trailer and SWAT removed them and placed them in crates while us friends watched on our way home from school. The Mill Pond reminds me very specifically of that time. Of when us friends felt every moment as potential violence.

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  3. Jordan Blum said on 10/11/11 at 9:57 am Reply

    I love the idea that “Mister Dean does things so evil our Tinkerbell doesn’t have the vocabulary to describe them yet.” That’s a perfect example of saying so much with so little, and it’s a scary thought.

    As for when I discovered evil, well, I can’t say that there was any one occurrence or revelation. I think that as I grew and learned about things like the Holocaust, serial killers, pedophiles (priests or not), etc, I realized that there is as much darkness in the world as there is light. What’s truly scary is that, at least to me, there are far more stories about evil than good. Ho look at any news site right now; I guarantee you’ll find the same.

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