Book Review: Biography of X – Catherine Lacey


Posted June 11, 2023 in Book Review

Cirillo’s

Who would be your ideal biographer? You probably wouldnt pick your aggrieved and forensic widow. The subject of Catherine Laceys mock biography is an era-defining, possibly lunatic artist. It is Xs explicit wish not to be captured in a biography. But after her sudden death, this is the task that her wife, C. M. Lucca (or C) takes up – ostensibly to correct the mistakes of another biographer, but really to make sense of their difficult relationship.

X was absent even before she was Cs ex. She never shared her real name or birthplace. Any insistence on the importance of those accidental facts is violence, ignorance, X writes. But we soon learn that these facts are crucial. The era which X defines, and which C documents, is none that we know. In 1945, the USAs Southern Territory – where X was actually born – seceded and became a fascist theocracy. The North, to which X then escaped, is a socialist state.

Biography of X is presented as a book within a book, complete with copyright page and footnotes. Lacey digs out photographs, snatches of literary criticism, and the work of real-life iconoclasts (Kathy Acker, David Bowie) to render her subject. The result is an ambitious remaking of the epistolary form: a novel which sustains, in its fragments, a parallel world. X marks Lacey out as one of the most intriguing novelists working today.

Words: Eve Hawksworth

Biography of X

Catherine Lacey

[Granta] 

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