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


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

xTx Is Not a Real Person but ___ _____ Is Not a Real Writer (Yet)


xTx likes to send me all the great reviews of her book and I yawn, mostly. She thinks I do that because I am not supportive, but it is because nobody is going to tell me something I already know about Normally Special, a book that I am deeply invested in.

Disclaimers: I read early drafts of many of these stories; I provoked her into writing the story about her dad’s penis; I took the photo that is on the cover; I take every opportunity to turn the attention to myself. So enough of that. There are more disclaimers but I will not disclaim them, I will just say this:

xTx is a lovely person who cares deeply about the people she cares about. xTx is not a real person. You are lucky if you are xTx’s Internet friend. xTx is friends with everyone on the Internet. Her Internet heart is that big. She is honest — as honest as someone with a pseudonym can be — and please consider that her fake name might make her more honest than you could ever hope to be. She injected so much of herself — her hidden, real self — into Normally Special that to discuss the book or the person is to discuss the same thing.

Some of the stories make you squirm and gag and that is a good thing. Many reviewers gravitate toward the gruesome tales in her collection because, c’mon, what a THING to say! To admit! To confess! Cringe-worthly. She digs deep for those, into places that make her and the reader feel like monsters. She almost named the book I Am Not a Monster in part because she often feels like one. And that is it right there — we all do. Maybe we do not write stories about it. Maybe we pretend we do not have these feelings. But we do.

The most frightening story in the book is “An Unsteady Place.” A woman on an idyllic vacation with her family struggles to love and is maybe losing her mind and it is terrifying. Trapped by the trappings of her life: a husband and children and choices that are chains, and who is not bound and frightened by that? Who would admit it?

xTx is the inside of this woman. _____ _______ is the outside this woman. _____ _______ could not write the stories in Normally Special. If you met _____ _______ you might ask her where xTx is and she would point at a dark corner and you would not see her.

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  1. Dawn. said on 09/22/11 at 12:08 pm Reply

    Great post, Robb. I also felt that “An Unsteady Place” was the most frightening story in this kickass little book. That and “Standoff.” Totally bone-chilling.


  2. Emily Lackey said on 09/23/11 at 9:50 am Reply

    Is xTx the Banksy of the literary world?


  3. Brian Warfield said on 09/23/11 at 11:24 pm Reply

    I work near a hospital and every day when I see doctor-types or just people wearing scrubs, I get this weird image/(memory?) of a doctor pressing up against me and feeling the distinct curvature of his genitalia through the thin pants material. As I am trying to give these doctors or scrubs-wearing guys good customer service, I can feel their penises in my mind.


  4. brian warfield said on 10/05/11 at 8:03 pm Reply

    is there a “Best of Contemporary Anonymous Writing” collection somewhere? i ran across a blog the other day that was just posts of poetry by an anonymous blogger and it made me wonder how many people are doing things like that. and i think that pseudonymous writers like xTx or ofelia hunt probably come the closest to recognizable anonymity. and what does that mean in terms of “publicity” when they are not technically public figures? and things like that.


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