Arktoi Books: Literature by lesbian authors

 Cut Away:
a novel

- Catherine Kirkwood

   - Book Description
   - Author Bio
   - Author Interview
   - Reviews/Audio
   - Author Website

For questions about the press or to obtain a review copy, contact Eloise Klein Healy at


Cut Away and Catherine Kirkwood (pdf)
Interview with Catherine Kirkwood (pdf)
Author Photo Photo Credit: Kayleen Dunson (jpg)


• 2010, 152 pages, $16.95
• ISBN: 0-9800407-9-5
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CUT AWAY: Catherine Kirkwood

About the Book

Cut Away is the story of a woman who steals a child, raises her, and then, when the child runs away, takes on her face through plastic surgery. Asa's troubled, furtive progress transects the lives of Eleanor, a plastic surgeon fascinated with surfaces and whether visual harmony has the power to change what lies beneath, and the last known person to see the runaway—Alexandra, a transgendered woman who has left behind urban Los Angeles for a trailer out by the desolate Salton Sea.

In a culture obsessed with transforming the body, do the incarnate fictions we create have the power to hide or reveal the truth of who we really are? The three narrators, Asa, Eleanor, and Alexandra, find their lives tenuously counterpoised as they struggle to understand the meaning of identity and its seeming mutability. As their stories converge, desire, self-loathing, and revisionary madness find a tension that will either tear their worlds apart or strike disturbing equilibrium.

Praise for Cut Away

Shrouded in the mystery of a teenage runaway, Cut Away is a powerful story of transformation by those who seek plastic surgery, those who administer it, and those who remain fiercely faithful to themselves. Like a surgeon's knife, Kirkwood's writing is precise, direct and unsentimental. Indeed, this novel cuts deeply.
—Helena Maria Viramontes, author of Their Dogs Came With Them
Catherine Kirkwood's harrowing novel explores the mysteries of identity through characters who change into other people, lose and find themselves, and sometimes change into deeper versions of themselves. Throughout, the vivid reality of the people and places keep us in their disturbing and beautiful world.
—Rachel Pollack, author of The Tarot of Perfection: A Book of Tales
This novel blends all the elements of a terrific read with thought-provoking issues rarely addressed in fiction. Women's relationships with their bodies, the blurring of genders, and the role of the surgeon for women who are profoundly affected by these things, are brilliantly woven together in a story whose characters are intriguing, complicated, and all searching for something or someone. You can't help caring for them in the best possible way—without judgment—and you can't help reading on late into the night to unravel the intriguing connections between them.
—Judith Barrington
Erotic, dark and intense, Kirkwood asks difficult questions about the relationship between appearance and identity in her debut novel of a plastic surgeon's obsession with a young drifter, and the results of her most avid patient's urgent transformation. An original, thrilling debut.
—Alexander Chee :