Set in the present and near future, this is an apocalyptic tale that makes Clockwork Orange look tame. It's alternately narrated by the female Abhor, ``part robot, part black,'' and the male Thivai, a diagnosed paranoid. Thivai is a sort of wide-eyed Huck Finn adventuring through a postmodern world that is punctuated by random violence. Algerian immigrants have taken over Paris, Western cities are now ``composed of dead and mutants,'' punky kids are playing at being terrorists, CIA plots aboundall this, Acker tells us during the age of Reagan. The most eerie quality of these new-age humanoids is their anesthetized emotions; females of any age are referred to as ``cunts'' and sadomasochistic relationships, be they homosexual or heterosexual, whether involving children or consenting adults, are the norm. A plotless stream-of-consciousness style and sexually explicit prose only dull Acker's powerful message. (September)
``I want to kill the person I love so I can be dead,'' confesses one of the narrators of Acker's new novel. ``This seemed to be an apt response to the world.'' The world in this case is a near-future vision of revolution, mutilation, and putrefaction, a kind of punk Grand Guignol in which Acker's protagonists Thivai and Abhor frantically and randomly rape and pillage. Readers of William Burroughs will recognize Acker's amalgam of pulp routines and technobabble. Missing is Burroughs's savage humor; Acker is in dull, deadly earnest. There are signs that in piling negative upon negative she intends a breakthrough to some more positive realm: ``You no longer don't have to not exist.'' But few readers are likely to hang on for 240 pages to find out.Grove Koger, Boise P.L., Id.