Book Review: Biography of X – Catherine Lacey

Posted 6 months ago in Book Review

BIMM nov 13 – dec 15 – Desktop

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



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