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