Essential Acker: The Selected Writings of Kathy Acker

Overview

Kathy Acker pushed literary boundaries with a vigor and creative fire that made her one of America's preeminent experimental writers and her books cult classics. Now Amy Scholder and Dennis Cooper have distilled the incredible variety of Acker's body of work into a single volume that reads like a communique from the front lines of late-twentieth-century America. Acker was a literary pirate whose prodigious output drew promiscuously from popular culture, the classics of Western civilization, current events, and ...
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Overview

Kathy Acker pushed literary boundaries with a vigor and creative fire that made her one of America's preeminent experimental writers and her books cult classics. Now Amy Scholder and Dennis Cooper have distilled the incredible variety of Acker's body of work into a single volume that reads like a communique from the front lines of late-twentieth-century America. Acker was a literary pirate whose prodigious output drew promiscuously from popular culture, the classics of Western civilization, current events, and the raw material of her own life. Her vision questions everything we take for granted — the authority of parents, government, and the law; sexuality and the policing of desire — and puts in its place a universe of polymorphous perversity and shameless, playful freakery. Spanning Acker's '70s punk interventions through more than a dozen major novels, Essential Acker is an indispensable overview of the work of this distinctive American writer and a reminder of her challenge to and influence on writers of the future.
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Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
The definitive compendium of Acker's sexed-up word-bombs. If you believe Jeanette Winterson's typically hyperbolic and snot-nosed introduction, Acker (1948-97) was one of the modern world's most provocative and revolutionary writers. Acker herself may have believed that. But there's little revolutionary in this collection of 23 pieces spanning 1968 to 1996, and that is by no means an insult. Acker sought to push boundaries-in her writing, life and performance art-and somehow ended up producing some truly fun and enjoyable writing. A representative item is one of the better stories here, "Rip-Off Red, Girl Detective": The eponymous narrator has spiraled down through society's lower depths, eventually becoming a stripper, "but even that bored me, so I decided, on my 26th birthday, to become the toughest detective alive." Mind you, this pledge to herself doesn't involve much more than incessantly screwing a guy named Peter, as well as some woman on a plane, and masturbating. Variations on the same theme-of a rampantly and unapologetically sexual woman-make up the body of the rest of the book. But it's all in a day's fun for a writer who deserves more than a few comparisons to Burroughs, although she's a livelier and less apocalyptic version of said Beat prophet, and with fewer axes to grind. Acker also has a habit of sampling from other writers, Dickens and Rimbaud, for example (she even briefly seems to be quoting from William Gibson's Neuromancer), a device probably meant to be more thought-provoking than it actually is. A life between two covers: Acker, resolutely political but always entertaining, in spite of herself.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780802139214
  • Publisher: Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
  • Publication date: 9/28/2002
  • Series: Acker, Kathy Series
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 335
  • Sales rank: 1,401,374
  • Product dimensions: 5.56 (w) x 8.22 (h) x 0.91 (d)

Read an Excerpt

Essential Acker

The Selected Writings of Kathy Acker
By Kathy Acker

Grove Atlantic, Inc.

Copyright © 2002 Estate of Kathy Acker
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-8021-3921-3


Chapter One

from "Politics" (My first work, written when 21 years old) the filthy bedcover on stage I'm allergic to this way of life mine? the last time I got on stage for the first ten minutes I felt I wasn't me I was going through mechanical personality changes and actions I got scared I might flip in front of the sex-crazy lunatics finally got into the Santa Claus routine I was a little girl all excited because Santa Claus was going to bring me Christmas presents I couldn't go to sleep I was waiting and waiting and then and then you know what happened doctor Santa Claus came right into my room I'm taking my clothes my shoes off rubbing my breasts Lenny dreamt last night about fucking Cyrelle she was lecturing him on how to fuck a woman he told her that he didn't need the lecture she thought he was wrong he was sucking an older woman's cunt it was also a cock without changing from a cunt this is a romantic section a very romantic life ha ha I was writing in the projection room the shits said they'd clean and wax the floor it's still piss black can't see no roaches no more it's hotter than usual the projectionist was constantly bugging me some guy they say drunk hit Josie on her ass during her show yesterday his hat thecashier says he came up told him you're not allowed to bring liquor up here then the cashier an Indian guy turns to Washington an old black janitor tells him that he's not to come again on the weekends he has no mind he can't remember anything he's not to ask to get paid again he gets $1.00 he's too old he won't be able to work much longer he's sick he's senile he's looking at me red blearing eyes we're at the Embers cruddy food at least no one's taking off his clothes they all want to SCREW this week (we find in the projection room) is about orgies mentions every place but ours only the fuzz know about 113 swingers SCREW says are very jealous about their mates? you can't get involved with a girl you fuck at an orgy unless you've got her guy's OK which isn't they say likely I don't know about vice versa at an orgy everyone wants to have everyone else only once no two guys together the males want to watch the females screw so that occurs it turns them on the best orgy I ever went to a cunt's writing started with two girls making it on the livingroom floor Lenny tells me Lawrence is a romantic Kangaroo red and black striped overalls no hair I don't know what the fuck to do with it I'm getting to look so ugly it won't do anything like stand straight out fuzz into balls two more shows and everything's over I felt dead writing before I could be dead now waking up I got a sacred Mexican ring yesterday to do just that remember every single dream for the next two weeks as soon as I wake up not getting so pissed off all the time completely hostile I'd like Jewels this life's not romantic enough too hidden yet to be found in the fucking brain and mind I have to get back to the show Lenny's putting on his coat son of a bitch after we had dinner at this god awful chinese restaurant fake chinese gardens the waiter shit wouldn't give another bowl to us for the winter melon soup for two on the menu Mickey was barely able to kiss Mark goodbye we went to Mark's house 13th and A stories about how If you venture out there after dark one block or more you automatically get raped mugged castrated we smoked went into the bedroom to see the new waterbed it was gorgeous like being in the ocean the waves lapping back and forth it was the only thing in the room except for a tape deck white walls no curtains Mark said he was going to paint the walls different shades of blue striped in a funnel the rug would be dyed to match the ceiling the floor would be an actual funnel you'd go right through I was completely smashed Mark was hot for Lenny spent an hour? two hours? making these absurd hints he only wanted to sleep with Ellen the new dancer Lenny was playing dumb too smashed or not digging he finally said do you want to sleep with me Lenny didn't want me to leave the room I didn't want to leave the waterbed under any circumstances my dress kept getting undone earlier in the evening Mark had been kissing me he gave a speech about male male fucking god knows why he ever wants a female I said I the fucking cats didn't want to sleep with Mark Mark said he'd prefer Lenny between the two of us he'd take us both he didn't think I was ugly I was so complimented I didn't want to watch watching Lenny fuck someone and not being able to be involved wanting to would blow me Mark kept pushing Lenny telling me to go into the livingroom Lenny didn't want me there Ronny came in Bill Blass jumpsuit blue with a thin white belt Bill Blass scarf my my richies Hanky Panky crackers from Boston I ate one and didn't like it Mark wanted to go back to the livingroom I wanted to get out of there back to the cats I prefer gay guys because I'm not under pressure constantly to fuck them watch if my clothing's always closed which it's not I was feeling anomalous Mark started saying the mattress in the waterbed on the waterbed is torn I have to fix it he even threaded a real needle Lenny can you help me Ronny's cracking ridiculous jokes Mark's done it so often he even has it timed Mark says you can watch Ronny's not a voyeur we watch Rat-Race Debbie Schmereynolds an incredibly creepy flic in which Debbie's a good girl who'd rather give up her guy than prostitute I don't remember if she's living with him in sin it was very romantic Ronny and I were finally talking Johnny Carson turned on crude gags about hookers drag queens everyone's one for fun I'm learning about Middle America the whole place is mad I'm cold to Lenny don't admit I am which is nasty I want to see my cats Mark has one Tiffany she's seven weeks pregnant and crawls through almost closed windows and bars no one else comes it was a party not even Mickey Mark said that Mickey would be very upset if he knew that Mark slept with anyone else Mark would if Mickey did it's quite nutty there's this rich guy Jack who's been supporting Mark still is? they have an expensive looking place not much furniture yet no books of course we're open for any garbage I get pissed off when Mark kisses me and calls me a girl he's upset I am I try to relax rub him goodnight Lenny's acting like he's lost his mind we get a ride with this dope seller creep doesn't know why anyone would live in a commune not enough money to the Eighth Street subway this is the first dream sequence 1:17 I have to go out for the rest of the day get my hair cut again thank god. (1968) (Continues...)



Excerpted from Essential Acker by Kathy Acker Copyright © 2002 by Estate of Kathy Acker. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

Introduction
Editor's Note
from "Politics" (1968) 1
from The Burning Bombing of America: The Destruction of the U.S. (1972) 4
from Rip-off Red, Girl Detective (1973) 10
from The Childlike Life of the Black Tarantula (1973) 23
from I Dreamt I Was a Nymphomaniac (1974) 42
from The Adult Life of Toulouse Lautrec (1975) 55
Florida (1976) 71
from Kathy Goes to Haiti (1978) 83
from Blood and Guts in High School (1978) 100
"New York City in 1979" (1981) 131
"Hello, I'm Erica Jong" (1982) 148
from Great Expectations (1982) 150
Implosion (1983) 159
from "Translations of the Diaries of Laure the Schoolgirl" (1983) 175
from "Algeria" (1984) 180
from My Death My Life by Pier Paolo Pasolini (1984) 185
from Don Quixote (1986) 203
from "Lust" (1988) 230
from Empire of the Senseless (1988) 249
from In Memoriam to Identity (1990) 271
from "Low" (1990) 302
from My Mother: Demonology (1993) 308
from Pussy, King of the Pirates (1996) 319
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