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Skin [Hardcover]

Kathe Koja
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Feb. 1 1993
Eager to grow and transform, Bibi, a guerrilla performance artist, begins ritual cuttings and scarrings of her own body, and not even her metal sculptor friend, Tess, can stop her. 25,000 first printing.

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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

This humorless novel about art punks in an unnamed present-day city is long on form and short on content. The main character, Tess Bajac, is an earnest young sculptor who lives for her work, so much so that readers may well long for her to do something besides make anther sculpture. She does all too rarely. Tess meets Bibi Bloss, a fey dancer, and they establish Surgeons of the Demolition, a performance art troupe whose shows combine Tess's mobile, menacing, robotlike constructions with Bibi's dancers and much fake blood. Koja devotes endless pages to details of their productions, and the vicissitudes of the protagonists' relationship have to suffice for drama. Their main source of conflict is Bibi's growing compulsion to mortify her flesh via piercing, tattooing and scarification. Readers will find it hard to relate to such a rarefied concern, especially since the roots of Bibi's obsession are never explored. Koja ( The Cipher ) has a considerable talent for evoking atmosphere, but her style, an obscurantist mix of stark minimalism and florid gush, further distances the characters from the reader and hampers the novel's already minimal movement. The ending is merely a jarring, long-overdue bit of business; on the whole the novel, like the art of the characters it portrays, is a sustained exercise in style over substance.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

In horror novelist Koja's third novel, which explores the performance art scene, artistic vision evolves into dementia. Sculptor Tess Bajac agrees to incorporate her metal constructs into dancer Bibi Bloos's performance pieces, which include violence and tribal ritual. Bibi slowly draws Tess into an emotional and physical relationship that is overshadowed by Bibi's increasing preoccupation with transcending the limits of her body through cutting, scarring, and piercing. From the opening paragraph, Koja ( The Cipher , Dell, 1991) creates a gritty, claustrophobic, unsettling mood through heavily descriptive prose, engulfing the reader in a world of burning steel, aberration, and self-destruction. This is a dark and frightening work by a major talent whose prose reads like a collaboration between Clive Barker and William S. Burroughs. Highly recommended for contemporary fiction collections.
- Eric W. Johnson, Teikyo Post Univ. Lib., Waterbury, Ct.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of many amazing Koja novels April 29 2002
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This was the first Kathe Koja book I ever read, and it was not the last. This book was great on so many different levels. I loved the writing style, long sentences and all. I especially loved the characters, Bibi and Tess, and the secondary characters of the performance troupe - they were presented as true artists of the industrial culture, the ideas at the heart of industrial music and its fans, not poseur whiny kids in cute black clothes. (Aside from Koja, I recommend Poppy Z. Brite and Caitlin R. Kiernan for getting past cliches of kids in subcultures.) This book was real and raw and different. I don't think the author was trying to "push" homosexuality on a reader or exploit it for book sales. What do people want? A label on books that says: Warning: Contents May Offend or Challenge Your Sensibilities? That's what good books are supposed to do! If one wants a label that says the opposite, perhaps one should look for books with Koontz and Rice embossed nice and shiny on the cover.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Flesh and steel June 2 2002
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Koja explores the limits of flesh in SKIN,chronicling the
desire to transcend these limits in her own unique style.
This is a great modern novel concerning extreme body
modification and the physiological scars it leaves; it
is also an accurate look at underground culture. Koja is
one of our very best writers,and SKIN is a classic.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Wow. Aug. 12 2001
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
I most faithfully believe that SKIN sets a standard by which all books of the "darker" genre should be measured. This book is indeed dark, but it is also incandescent. I am by no means an uncritical reader, so when I say that, page after page, SKIN had me breathless, touched, and completely floored, I sincerely mean it. Kathe Koja is a passionate, visceral writer, gifted with the uncommon knack for gorgeous and hallucinatory prose. Reading SKIN, I could not help but feel moved -- it seemed as though I had been waiting a long, long time to come in contact with something so extremely alive and so extremely rarefied - so unrelentingly beautiful - that, no matter how lame or drastic this sounds, I almost felt as if I were coming home to something; something unfamiliar yet completely familiar, something untouched that had been waiting to be touched, waiting patiently until given the proper stimulus: SKIN. No artist - in fact, no one, period - can afford not to read this book. It's raw, it's affecting, it's painful, it's profound -- the distillate of life compressed into 389 wonderful pages.
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