Review: X: A Novel

X: A Novel
Davey Davis, 288 pgs, Catapult,, $16.95

This speculative novel provides a window into a fictional New York BDSM subculture within LGBTQ2SA+ community in an apocalyptic world. The central premise is sadomasochist Lee’s search for a character named X after a BDSM session.

Lee operates within a community where parties, drugs and sex are the norm. Two additional storylines revolve around Lee’s mother and chilhood, and Petra, their first love. Within the speculative frame, this community is slowly being deported from the USA. Lee takes us through this subculture via casual BDSM encounters in a shock-and-awe manner. The narrator omits information and leaves the reader to connect the dots, but the dots are not there, so we never quite learn why the urgency to find X or what happened to Petra. These omissions make for a dis-satisfying narrative. Compounded with the fragmented narration, the novel struggles to maintain momentum.

Where X shines is in its unique observations and points of view. The most amusing one has Lee guessing Jesus’ shoe size: “Jesus … all the way down to his bleeding feet (American size 9, maybe)”. Another finds Lee viewing art primarily through a gender lens and suggesting queer art is superior: “Straight as she is, Maxine’s art is good.”

Davis certainly deserves recognition for pushing some boundaries here. All in all, the sexual aspects make for an entertaining vacation read, but one wouldn’t feel compelled to read on once the rain outside stops.