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Extremities
ISBN: 1568581505

By Kathe Koja
Review by: Moira Richards

12/01/04

I’ve seen X-treme Sports on the TV, and I think X-treme Fiction might be the best way to describe Kathe Koja’s writing in Extremeties. The credits at the beginning of the volume acknowledge that most of these sixteen short stories have been published previously in Fantasy and Science Fiction publications, and her writing really does seem to try to explore the genre to its deepest and darkest boundaries. Not the kind of book that one might pick up for a cosy read, more one that would grab your attention with the same kind of horrified fascination that a freeway pileup might elicit

In one story, “The Neglected Garden,” a rejected woman refuses to be sent away and chains herself to her lover’s fence. Neither he nor the police can get her to leave and so he ignores her in the hope that she will grow weary of the protest and go of her own accord – but what if she does not? In other stories, men and women chose for themselves a lover despite (or perhaps because of?) the depravity the relationship will exact from them. Some of the best tales in the book take the reader along on the ride to witness a perfectly normal character lose slowly, inexorably their mind – or their life.

Koja’s appeal for me, was in the way that her stories pushed my morbid interest to an extreme without ever revolting me enough to close the book and refuse to read any more. And she managed often, to surprise me by turning a sudden twist right at the end of a story that subverted entirely my expectation. Unless you are a hardened reader of the macabre, you might like me, prefer to enjoy this book of stories in small doses, interspersed by readings from more psyche-friendly writers :-)

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