Cecilia, by the critically acclaimed novelist and short story writer K-Ming Chang (BestiaryGods of WantOrgan Meats), is a sensual and surreal novella about the intensity, eroticism, and haunting nature of girlhood friendships.

As a cleaner at a chiropractic office, Seven is used to the indecencies of the human body and passes her time falling into daytime imaginings to distract herself from reality. But when a chance meeting throws Seven and her childhood friend Cecilia back together, Seven's daydreaming spins out of control, taking her back to memories and imaginings from her girlhood. As Seven and Cecilia orbit each other in the present, the past increasingly bleeds through, unspooling desires Seven long made dormant.

Like Chang's previous work, Cecilia luxuriates in its visceral imagery of embodied desire. The writing borders on body horror, yet avoids becoming too grotesque. Instead, it allows space for readers to engage in a fascination with hunger, a transportive understanding of impulse. Rather than dismissing the eroticism of girlhood friendships as temporary, the unbound nature of Cecilia's time demands an acknowledgement of the more subversive nature of young sexual exploration. The tension of Cecilia and Seven's relationship--of what can be done but what shouldn't, of what they want but often fear--is the driving force behind the novella's pace. But the book's true wonder is the precariousness with which it navigates tones, moving from dread to humor, longing to rage. As readers witness this high-wire act of affect and desire, realization and devastation, they will be compelled by, if nothing else, the knife's edge that underlines the novella's plot, always threatening a fresh cut. --Alice Martin, freelance writer and editor

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