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Adult; General Fiction (including literary and historical); (Market)

"Distortion could be the most daringly original and breathtakingly powerful work of literary fiction to emerge in recent years.Highly recommended."
Chris Riches - Daily Express

“A literary masterpiece of restraint and intimacy that breaks down barriers to reconnect readers with the vulnerablemind and beating heart of humanity." Richard Moriarty - The Sun

“Let's face it, literary fiction can be pretentious, impenetrable, and hard to read. But Distortion is none of those things - it's literary fiction without the smug factor. In fact, it could be a game changer in this genre." Jonathan Ward, Deputy Editor - Daily Star Sunday

An innovative dialogue only story. Minimalist in plot, setting and character description. Two unnamed individuals, naked except for a sheet for modesty. She has Scoliosis – a curvature of the spine. He is facially different. Their hurdle is intimacy. She is somewhat experienced, he is not. Their journey is one of discover, understanding, overcoming and resolution. A physical, visceral and explicit exercise in creativity and a look into the profound impacts of those who are physically different.

This fascinating love story from Xavier (author of The Malady of Love) experiments with literary constraint, depicting an intimate and vulnerable couple of days with a couple whose efforts to connect are told entirely through dialogue. Xavier doesn't describe the scene, the characters themselves, or what they do in any way other than through what they say to each other. As the unidentified man and woman nervously approach each other with only a sheet covering them up, they slowly spell out just why they are so hesitant with each other. The woman has debilitating scoliosis that's left her torso twisted and unbalanced after a back brace and multiple failed surgeries. The man has a disfigured face, also shaped by repeated surgeries. They have each spent a lifetime of being rejected and mocked, and they are tentatively trying to break through that trauma to form a connection.

Like the couple, Xavier starts slowly, as the man tells the woman that he sees her as beautiful, but she demands he dig deeper, be more honest, and speak the truth of what he sees. Then when she regards him, he reacts the same way, the reader discovering what each looks like through the other’s words—and by this becoming deeply involved in their exploration of intimacy and trust. That leads to a surreal sequence, real or imagined, where he describes peeling the eyes that stared at her away from her skin and then cutting her open, removing the scars made from "the judgment of others." Soon, she describes ripping his face off. Throughout, both make exclamations of pain.

Finally, that intensely metaphorical experience fades as the couple at last feels comfortable with touch, then foreplay, and then sex, talking through it in the most exacting detail possible. The dialogue at times is so formal and descriptive that it lacks any sense of verisimilitude, but Distortion stands as a complex, vulnerable, and highly emotional narrative of connection.

Takeaway: Humane, sometimes shocking experimental love story.

Comparable Titles: Ryan J. Haddad's Dark Disabled Stories, Philip Roth’s Deception.

Production grades
Cover: A-
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: A
Marketing copy: A

Feature in the National World

New novel: No Distractions: The Literary Fiction Of Sierra Ernesto Xavier

Author Sierra Ernesto Xavier is described as a ‘writer’s writer’, penning innovative works of literary fiction that grip the reader in a way few others can achieve.

Here, Timothy Arden meets Sierra Ernesto Xavier to find out what inspires his writing.