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The Skin Artist

by George Hovis

The morning Bill Becker awakes to find the butterfly tattoo bleeding on his chest, his upwardly mobile life begins its downward spiral. Exiled from a corporate career and from the failed marriage he left behind in a gated Charlotte community, Bill becomes obsessed with a tattooed dancer named Lucy, who is running from a trauma buried deep in her own past. Lucy and Bill wrap themselves in new skins of ink, wrought by the same artist, a shaman who convinces them that every design will alter their future. Ultimately, both Bill and Lucy must leave the city and return to the Carolina countryside to confront the skins they have shed many years ago.

Out of America’s age of information, image, tattoo, and Adam and Eve eroticism comes a tightly written novel about addiction, family, and religion. The Skin Artist is at once smooth-deep literary and fast-eddy suspenseful. George Hovis’s first novel—it never slows down one iota—is an extraordinary debut.

—Clyde Edgerton, author of The Floatplane Notebooks and Raney

George Hovis displays a world we know and try to turn our gaze from. But the story is too powerful, the forces of destruction too strong, and we readers watch, hypnotized, as the descent gathers friends, lovers, and family into its vortex. Can such dark passages lead to hope?

—Fred Chappell, author of Dagon and As If It Were

The Skin Artist is the complex saga of a young man’s search for his own identity on the dark side of the New South—it’s hard to believe this is a first novel. Hovis has created an old-fashioned morality tale set against some of the most garish manifestations of the Sunbelt.

—Lee Smith, author of Dimestore and Guests on Earth

Equal parts psychological complication and harrowing action, a pull-no-punches tale of one man’s reckoning with his mistakes. An unforgettable read.

—Leah Stewart, author of What You Don’t Know About Charlie Outlaw

George Hovis

About the Author

George Hovis is a native of Gaston County, North Carolina. Before becoming a writer and teacher, he worked as a process chemist at several ink factories in Charlotte. His stories and essays have appeared widely, most recently in The Carolina Quarterly, The Fourth River, and North Carolina Literary Review. A Pushcart Prize nominee, he earned a PhD from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and has attended the Sewanee Writers’ Conference. He currently lives with his wife and their two children in Upstate New York, where he is a professor of English at SUNY Oneonta.

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