The Skin Is the Elastic Covering that Encases the Entire Body
“The Skin Is the Elastic Covering that Encases the Entire Body is the most powerful, heart-wrenching, and disturbing, book published in Denmark in recent years.” ― Naja Marie Aidt, author of Baboon and When Death Takes Something From You, Give it Back: Carl’s Book
What if the only kind of love you understood was one that shattered taboos? What if your very first romance drowned you in a whirlpool of transgression? A coming-of-age novel that is minutely in tune with the hungers of its narrator’s body, The Skin Is the Elastic Covering that Encases the Entire Body defies category. It follows a teenage boy named Bjørn who cuts into his flesh to find relief from his depressed mother and the sexual desires that frighten him. Bjørn begins a sadomasochistic affair with an older man that promises healing, but instead it only harms him further. In a spiraling, desperate search for understanding, Bjørn struggles through grief—and pushes his flesh to its limits.
A feverish combination of stream of conscious, autobiography, collage, and narrative, Skin marks the arrival of a truly original literary voice. Reminiscent of Maggie Nelson’s The Argonauts, it is as omnivorous as the bodies within it, as unrestrained as the appetites, terrors, and trysts that celebrated author Bjørn Rasmussen evokes in poetic detail. Deeply emotional, erotic, elegiac, and pansexual, it caresses the wounds we visit upon our body and soul in an attempt to serve the urges of our largest organ—the skin that covers and defines us.
“A private and gem-like book . . . I was pulled by equal parts curiosity, repulsion, and empathy. Rasmussen has managed to stretch the soul in the way a butcher might stretch flesh, asking us to consider the roots of our desires and the depths of our longings.” ―Full Stop
“Darkly beautiful and fearless.” ―Book Riot
“Rasmussen’s little obliteration wastes no time in expounding on the pungent pleasures of an illicit tryst . . . fear, arousal, and desperation are a potent mix.” —Three Percent
“Reading The Skin is like being trapped in someone else’s nightmare, but it’s written with such gorgeous, poetic language that the reader is lulled into the story and can’t stop. While explicit, The Skin is surprisingly nuanced when questioning what it means to process and recover from trauma, while simultaneously taking the reader through the darkest depths of queer desire, power, shame, and the duality of corporeal pleasure/pain. A visceral assault on the senses, this turbulent and depraved little beast of a book reigns supreme in the “not for everyone” category, but this read is still a rewarding one.” —Shane Khosropour, bookseller at Unabridged Bookstore (Chicago, IL)
“Bjørn Rasmussen writes with body and soul in a way you have never experienced before. The Skin Is the Elastic Covering that Encases the Entire Body is the most powerful, heart wrenching, and disturbing, book published in Denmark in recent years.” ―Naja Marie Aidt, author of Baboon and When Death Takes Something From You, Give it Back: Carl’s Book
“The skin is in the center of this baroque-yet-utterly-visceral lyrical picaresque. The skin touches and is touched, but it is also a “stage” (as our narrator tells us) where performances take place, and it is constantly permeated―through sex, artifice, the senses. The beauty of the world―which includes silk robes, bodily functions, horse stench ,and pretty much anything he sees, touches, or smells―overwhelms the narrator. Similarly Rasmussen’s prose―written in the abject-sublime spirit of Jean Genet’s Our Lady of Flowers―overwhelms with its gorgeous sensory overload. This is my favorite novel I’ve read in a long time.” ―Johannes Goransson, author of The Sugar Book, editor of Action Books
“Bjørn Rasmussen’s razor prose cuts through cleanly in Aitken’s masterful translation. This novel is blazing poetry.” —Katrine Øgaard Jensen, translator of Third-Millennium Heart