Extremities by Kathe Koja

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In the hypnotic, psychological landscape of Kathe Koja, people pushed to extremes of endurance -- physical and emotional -- illuminate the netherworld of artistic exploration and insantiy, and the slippery slope into perversity -- sexual and violent. The stories in "Extremities" explore encounters with the unexplainable and the bizarre; old-fashioned obsession and vengeance with consequences twisted and unique; interecting paths of the living and the dead. Koja's language is gorgeously descriptive of each delicate sensation, prosaic and grotesque. Every sense is exquisitely evoked from the visual to the tactile, the auditory to the olfactory.Frequently Koja's people are betrayed by their own imaginations -- artists controlled by their muses, women dominated by their fantasy lovers, ordinary Joes bewitched by subversive inner voices and inexplicably endowed with unwanted powers. In "Disquieting Muse, " an art therapist is unwillingly drawn to a blank young woman's sexually explicit drawings. His well-ordered life becomes disrupted by these vibrant, disturbing pictures until they metastisize and consume him. "Angels in Love" starts out with straightforward jealousy and curiosity about the sexual adventures of the girl next door before careening into the lethal sadism of a fallen deity. "Bird Superior" describes a plane crash survivor who quite literally takes flight, and in "The Neglected Garden" a woman determined not to leave her lover takes root in the backyard, only to amass all the strength of Mother Earth in wreaking havoc upon him.Koja's world is a haunting pathological terrain. the stories are layered, nuanced paintings of peculiarity that crescendo in devastatingimages. Koja is our Edgar Allan Poe for the 21st century.

About Kathe Koja

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Novelist Kathe Koja was born in Detroit, Michigan in 1960. Koja's novel, The Cipher, won the 1991 Philip K. Dick Award for best first novel published in paperback and the 1992 Bram Stoker Award for Best First Novel. She also authored Bad Brains, Skin, and Strange Angels.
Published October 1, 1998 by Four Walls Eight Windows. 232 pages
Genres: Horror, Literature & Fiction, Science Fiction & Fantasy. Fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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But Koja’s blunt, visceral, at times incantatory style really takes off when she reaches the limits of “normal” experience without dipping into a bag of cheap tricks—as in “Pas de Deux,” in which a would-be dancer degrades herself in the pursuit of perfection (even to the point of death);

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Publishers Weekly

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he is haunted by the sound of dying pigs, the ""unbearable tender wail of their murdered cries, scaling like the scream of high opera."" In ""Teratisms,"" the weakest piece, a baby-eating monster-boy obsessively recites the names of cities in Louisiana and horrifies his troubled siblings by cough...

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SF Site

Koja's voice is stunning, and I found myself reading a phrase several times: once for the sheer impact of the story, and once to listen to the intricate rhythm of her words.

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ForeWord Reviews

A collection of 17 stories, Extremities is a baffling, exceedingly dark collection of narratives.

Aug 16 1998 | Read Full Review of Extremities

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