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  • Skin
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on August 11, 2001
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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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on April 29, 2002
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 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on February 22, 2008
Skin was my first exposure to Kathe Koja so many years ago in an advanced copy sent to the bookstore i'd worked at. labeled as horror, which was something i was moving away from, it hit a real raw nerve that had nothing to do with horror or fiction.

this was an aspect of the world i knew.

art and obsession colliding with the real world.

Tess and Bibi invaded my world. i wanted to hear the music used in the performances, i wanted the image of who they were, i wanted to smell the sweat, smoke and blood of the shows.

Kathe Koja showed real emotion, real connection, the real power of compulsion. no choice, you burn for your art. no choice you read because you must.

no chipper ending as most would provide, but palatable hurt that will linger.

find a copy, hardbound if possible. you will want it on your bookshelf.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on June 1, 2002
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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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on October 19, 1999
Picked up this book from a thrift shop intending to use the cover art in a collage. Upon reading the book I was astounded that I had never heard of Kathe Koja up to that point. (Several years ago.) She is definitely the most under appreciated author of this generation. Skin is full on masterful prose and while I wouldn't recommend it to my mother, I have recommended it to most of my friends. Needless to say, the book is on my shelf, cover intact.
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on July 1, 2015
If William Burroughs, Hunter Thompson, James Joyce, Samuel Delaney or even Tom Wolfe have repaid your ability to grasp their unique style and content, you're well set to relish Koja's prose, which entices you into a little accommodation by its breathlessly intense evocation of life as an artist during our period of art that cared more for the sublimity of its creation than the final product.

This book has stayed in mind since I first read it as a young artist, especially because working artists are more likely to discuss tools than their internal experience.

Its content is timeless, though, just as Flower Power was regurgitated as coke habits and the Me Decade, this novel's Punk milieu has receded like the New Wave before it. Nevertheless as evoked here, Punk's drive to rebuke the crass commodification of every heartfelt revolutionary impulse is still noble and vital to appreciating our contemporary lives.

Although freshly individual, its style avoids the travesties of other new '80s authors who were lauded for mangling English into unreadable corruption where a character's vocabulary, grammar, and spelling errors conveyed no insight since they were indistinguishable from the author's, so that the latitude appropriated gained nothing further than the feeling many proofreaders were out of work. Presently I can recall none of their names or then celebrated works.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on September 1, 1998
There isn't much to say about Kathe Koja's _Skin_ except this: read it. Read it now.
Sculptor Tess Bajac is looking for ways to pay the rent. Through a sometime boyfriend, she's introduced to Bibi, a performance artist who sees the potential for a collaboration between the two. They for a troupe and a friendship, and both warp, twist, and degrade, slowly but surely. Enough plot twists to keep the reader guessing, but even if there weren't, Koja's skill with the written word is so masterful that it wouldn't matter. The writing style is as bleakly compelling as the novel's subject. Worth finding and reading at all costs. The best horror novel ever written, and one of the five or so best books of all time.
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Years ago I gave this book to my now late wife. She refused to go to sleep unless she had placed a heavy rock on it.

This book is full of sweaty, smarmy evil, the two strange women who dance this bloody pas-de-deux are humorless, joyless bulldaggers locked in a tango to the death. Are they realistic? Hell, yes-I can think of four or five people who might have been the models for these two.

Is it a good read? Lawdamassey,yes! Kathe Koja has a truly spooky imagination-I once had a phone conversation with her, where she avowed no more horror yarns, much to my sadness-her resolve has wavered(hurrah!) and she has returned to her roots, at least a bit.

I think she may have changed her name from Kafka. Her "Under the Poppy"is a subtle mind bender-this one is a porthole into the loon room. Read it.
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I read this book years ago and again years ago and again more recently in paperback(s) I was mesmerized then, as an MFA student and twenty years later I find that I still am. I am disturbed, delighted, depressed and often shockingly familiar with the souls and the sorrows of both primary characters.

I don't know if this novel will resonate with every reader in the richness of color and emotion but I think sincerely that it is worth approaching with a completely open soul.
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on August 2, 2015
Koja's writing verges in the psychedelic, her descriptions are vivid and paint things in a light few others could capture. Though some can't stand her style, I often find myself hypnotized by her. The story revolves around a interpretive dance troupe... If they were interpreting the necronomicon... With H.R Giger constructs as centerpieces. Suggested for fans of Poppy Z. Brite's earlier work and anyone in the mood for something very different.
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