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Reviews of Cecilia by K-Ming Chang

Cecilia by K-Ming Chang

Cecilia

by K-Ming Chang
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  •  Not Yet Rated
  • Paperback:
  • May 2024
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About This Book

Book Summary

An erotic, surreal novella from the author of Organ Meats and Bestiary.

Seven, who works as a cleaner at a chiropractor's office, reencounters Cecilia, a woman who has obsessed her since their school days. As the two of them board the same bus—each dubiously claiming not to be following the other—their chance meeting spurs a series of intensely vivid and corporeal memories. As past and present bleed together, Seven can feel her desire begin to unmoor her from the flow of time.

Smart, subversive, and gripping, Cecilia is a winding, misty road trip through bodily transformation, the inextricable histories of violence and love, and the ghosts of girlhood friendship.

Excerpt
Cecilia

I saw Cecilia again when I turned twenty-four and switched jobs for the third time that year. In the laundry room of the chiropractor's office, I folded four types of towels and three sizes of gowns, my fingers sidling along seams and clawing the lint screen clean. The towels, which were stored in white laminate cabinets and laid out on the examination tables, had to be folded into fourths and rolled thick as thighs. The fraying ones were retired to a metal shelf along the back wall, a columbarium for cloth. I mourned them all: the aging towels were the easiest to fold, to flatten. They were softer and thinner and hung like pigskin over my forearm, clinging directly to my meat, nursing on my heat. They didn't get lumpy or beady when I tucked them, and their pleats never pickled into permanence, never stiffened into ridges.

The laundry room was a windowless space at the back of the clinic, painted pink and white like pork belly. I only ever saw the chiropractor and the ...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

In broad strokes, Cecilia's story is a familiar one: girlhood friends pushed apart by an inability to deal with their burgeoning sexuality, reunited years later. But Chang's prose, as well as her willingness to dig her fingers into the fertile soil of her protagonists, truly sets it apart. There is nothing polished or sanitized about the desire this novella puts on display, none of the gauzy, soft-focus sensuality of lesser lesbian fiction. With something unmentionable caked under its fingernails, Cecilia clutches at the reader and refuses to let go...continued

Full Review Members Only (479 words)

(Reviewed by Joe Hoeffner).

Media Reviews

Bustle
Erotic and strange, captivating and twisted: This one's for the freaks (complimentary).

Foreword Reviews
A novel that reveals the power—and dangers—of women's friendships through evocative, uncanny prose.

Literary Hub
A surreal cascade of girlhood memories about desire, queerness, and obsession. Cecilia is at once erotic and repulsive, carnal and tasty. In a word: delicious.

Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Chang...explores the ways in which the body can elicit both desire and disgust, and offers an original look at the volatility of a teen friendship. It's another high-water mark from a prolific and provocative author.

Kirkus Reviews
The work of reading this book leaves the reader with the same feeling one has after eating a particularly indulgent meal—satiation, with the knowledge of more hunger to come.

Reader Reviews

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Beyond the Book



The Symbolism of Urine

Fountain depicting a boy urinatingFrom the first pages of K-Ming Chang's novella Cecilia, narrator Seven is preoccupied with urine. She describes overhearing the strong flow of a chiropractor's urine in the toilet, and remarks upon the receptionist's quieter stream. She holds her own urine until her bladder "tautens into a grape of pain"; later, while dreaming of Cecilia, she wets the bed. Seven received her strange name because her mother drank nothing but 7-Up while she was in the womb, "until her piss thickened into syrup." At one point in a childhood flashback, inspired by a wilderness survival TV show, Cecilia urges Seven to pee in her mouth. (Seven misses and mostly soaks Cecilia's shirt.)

Urine may be a natural product of our bodies, but it's still heavily ...

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