Pussy, King of the Pirates

Pussy, King of the Pirates

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by Kathy Acker
     
 

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A retelling of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island, Pussy, King of the Pirates is a dizzyingly imaginative foray through world history, literature, and language itself.

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Overview

A retelling of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island, Pussy, King of the Pirates is a dizzyingly imaginative foray through world history, literature, and language itself.

Editorial Reviews

James Marcus
Over the course of nearly a dozen novels, Kathy Acker has refined her trademark madness into a kind of method, which consists of applying the wrecking ball to some literary classic, then raking through the debris for raw materials. In earlier books she drew upon Dickens, Cervantes, Rimbaud, and Pasolini. This time, Robert Louis Stevenson takes the hit. Pussy, King of the Pirates represents Acker's spin on Treasure Island, although the familiar adventure is buried under an avalanche of dream sequences and erotic interludes. The plot revolves around a cast of interchangeable female characters, who dart from one location to the next. Early on, they traipse through an Egyptian whorehouse, which occasions one of Acker's goofy epigrams: "Every whorehouse is childhood." Later, they inhabit a futuristic metropolis and a girls' boarding school. One woman has an abortion; another has a roll in the hay with Heathcliff, who wanders in from Wuthering Heights for a cameo appearance. Finally they reach Pirate Island itself, an icky little atoll where the air is "so odiferous that the clams who were lying in the mud-water below, shell-open, and the fish whose mouths were gaping even though they were dead, could see a wall of smell." By this point my mouth was gaping, too: why would anybody bother with this pretentious (not to mention odiferous) twaddle? Acker's politics are as muddled as her prose. And despite her constant yakking about victimization, the only victim in Pussy, King of the Pirates is poor, defenseless Stevenson--and, of course, the reader. -- Salon
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Once again displaying her penchant-and talent-for scavenging extant texts, Acker (My Mother: Demonology) exploits Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island and Pauline Reage's The Story of O, among other sources, fusing the carnal, the cerebral and the surreal into a fantastical tale. The story spans centuries and continents as it chronicles the adventures of O and Ange, whores who retire from the trade and hire a band of girl-pirates to help them find buried treasure. Told mostly through dreams and dream states and with casual shifts in point of view, the novel divides roughly into three sections. The first, "O and Ange,'' recounts the two women's days of prostitution: in China, O begins whoring at the request of a boyfriend; she then makes a pilgrimage to "the most famous whorehouse in Alexandria,'' where she meets Ange, with whom she escapes and discovers a map of buried treasure. The second section, "The Pirate Girls,'' introduces "King'' Pussy, her youth, her two abortions and her sexual history. In the final section, "In the Days of the Pirates,'' O and Ange hire the pirate-girls and set sail for the treasure island. Acker writes a deliberately affectless, deadpan prose, rendering both the absurd and the disturbing (including several graphic sexual and physiological episodes) with a declarative nonchalance. Like Acker's other work, this campy and enigmatic novel is self-consciously provocative as she detonates her battery of literary and sexual references in order to illuminate themes of masochism and rebellion-but it's also often funny and invariably intelligent. (Jan.)
Library Journal
Ahoy ye maties! Are you ready for this ride through time zones and centuries, into subterranean worlds and onto the high seas to sail for treasure? As the story develops, a host of ribald, mangy characters (who speak in equally ribald language) trot off in search of a lost someone or something. Rarely do they find what they're searching for. However, they do frequently cross paths in whorehouses, in buildings without walls, or on crumbling sidewalks, where they have all sorts of liaisons. One of their other unmistakable, inescapable features is that, almost to a person, they emit acrid odors. Perhaps their outward appearance (and smells) stand as metaphors for the state of their souls. This book is a takeoff on Treasure Island but is far more than a neat little adventure tale. It is heavily influenced by pulp fiction, social satire, religious allegory, and picaresque novels. Acker (My Mother, LJ 7/93) gives readers a lot to chew on here-original sin, alienation, relations between men and women and between women and women, women's independence, and self-determination. As readers step into this cauldron of characters, the real adventure begins. Recommended for public libraries.-Lisa S. Nussbaum, Euclid P.L., Ohio

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780802134844
Publisher:
Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
Publication date:
12/28/1996
Series:
Acker, Kathy Series
Pages:
288
Sales rank:
781,362
Product dimensions:
5.48(w) x 8.22(h) x 0.77(d)

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