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Great Expectations

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Using postmodern form, Kathy Acker's Great Expectations moves her narrator through time, gender, and identity as it examines our era's cherished beliefs about life and art.


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Using postmodern form, Kathy Acker's Great Expectations moves her narrator through time, gender, and identity as it examines our era's cherished beliefs about life and art.

30 review for Great Expectations

  1. 4 out of 5

    Paul Bryant

    I read this way back when, when when was only just becoming when. That's few years back now. Anyway, is it not true that if a songwriter writes something like Hallelujah or I Will Always Love You-oo a whole lot of people rush to record it and sometimes do really interesting & different versions - and some versions are better than the original, Jeff Buckley takes over Hallelujah completely just as Elvis took over Hound Dog and Big Mama Thornton was left looking askance. Yet in the world of fic I read this way back when, when when was only just becoming when. That's few years back now. Anyway, is it not true that if a songwriter writes something like Hallelujah or I Will Always Love You-oo a whole lot of people rush to record it and sometimes do really interesting & different versions - and some versions are better than the original, Jeff Buckley takes over Hallelujah completely just as Elvis took over Hound Dog and Big Mama Thornton was left looking askance. Yet in the world of fiction, this does not happen. Somebody writes a novel and it's supposed to be theirs & theirs alone. You touch my book, I slap you with a writ. Yeah? Yeah! But why can't someone else come along & write their version of your story? This is what Kathy Acker was revolutionalistically suggesting by rewriting very badly Great Expectations. The idea is that you put in a few jazz chords, take out that tiresome riff and add a new one, get rid of the sub plot about the neighbour's wife's suspicions that her son was a rent boy - good god, that was terrible - increase the bpm by a little bit not too much. Well, there is stuff like Pride & Prejudice with Zombies but that's just silly. I was thinking more along the lines of re-doing The Lovely Bones where she doesn't die, so it's more cheerful, or rewriting Philip Roth novels so that the hero has great relationships with women and only has positive things to say about them - but of course keep the same plot and characters. That's important otherwise you might as well just write your own book. Maybe it wouldn't work with books, but it's completely normal in the world of pop songs. In fact songwriters are disappointed if no one else does their stuff. And the songwriters are artists but they don't go around saying "the guitar break has to stay" or "every word of this song has to be sung in the same way by the same person every time". How silly would it be if authors demanded the same printer is used every time their novel is printed. Absurd. So - I'm quite excited about this - I'm thinking of doing a version of We Need to Talk About Kevin in which they do actually talk about Kevin, and they never buy him any archery lessons, so he puts his talents to use elsewhere and becomes a pretty good banjo player. He joins this little newgrass band, they end up doing really well and one of their albums gets nominated for a Grammy, but it doesn't win. And nobody dies. I think that's a much better version.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jonfaith

    The personal interiorization of the practice of humiliation is called humility. This is Jon typing. Jon has been reading. All day. Mortality has reaped recklessly as of late. Right now two people Jon loves are ill in a real bad way. Jon muses and frets. He reads. Jon loved this book despite it being Wrong. He'd love to quote and paste and rant-and-riff about LIFE. But he won't. Jon listens to Marcin Wasilewski and Morrissey. Jon can't turn off his brain. Jon wallows and wonders. He'd love to read The personal interiorization of the practice of humiliation is called humility. This is Jon typing. Jon has been reading. All day. Mortality has reaped recklessly as of late. Right now two people Jon loves are ill in a real bad way. Jon muses and frets. He reads. Jon loved this book despite it being Wrong. He'd love to quote and paste and rant-and-riff about LIFE. But he won't. Jon listens to Marcin Wasilewski and Morrissey. Jon can't turn off his brain. Jon wallows and wonders. He'd love to read more Acker, but not just yet.

  3. 3 out of 5

    Mel

    Reason why I DNF'd after 11 pages: "The soldiers wake up stand up again tuck in their canvas shirttails suck in cheeks stained by tears dried by the steam from hot train rails rub their sex against the tires, the trucks go down into a dry ford mow down a few rose-bushes, the sap mixes with disemboweled teenagers' blood on their knives' metal, the soldiers' nailed boots cut down uproot nursery plants,..." Enough said. And before you ask: no that was NOT the end of the sentence (another 9 or so lines Reason why I DNF'd after 11 pages: "The soldiers wake up stand up again tuck in their canvas shirttails suck in cheeks stained by tears dried by the steam from hot train rails rub their sex against the tires, the trucks go down into a dry ford mow down a few rose-bushes, the sap mixes with disemboweled teenagers' blood on their knives' metal, the soldiers' nailed boots cut down uproot nursery plants,..." Enough said. And before you ask: no that was NOT the end of the sentence (another 9 or so lines), no I do NOT understand what is going on and no I did NOT forget the punctuation, there IS NONE.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Nate D

    I've been reading Kathy Acker in roughly chronological order, so I've had the pleasure of essentially seeing her honing her craft and develop her singular collage techniques. I'd rather expected to find her plots becoming a little more conventionally coherent in the process, but I'm pleased to report that though this is easily my favorite Acker yet, it's actually more broken up and disorienting than the last I'd read, it still feels more cohesive and gripping as a reading experience. I could "ge I've been reading Kathy Acker in roughly chronological order, so I've had the pleasure of essentially seeing her honing her craft and develop her singular collage techniques. I'd rather expected to find her plots becoming a little more conventionally coherent in the process, but I'm pleased to report that though this is easily my favorite Acker yet, it's actually more broken up and disorienting than the last I'd read, it still feels more cohesive and gripping as a reading experience. I could "get lost in the story" which doesn't usually happen with Acker, though she's always very interesting. Similar themes as usual here -- desire, gender and identity, the dislocation between sex and love, art and creativity, social unrest, feminism, porn -- this time framed in bits of unknown wartime horrors, the Story of O, and the tribulations of artists on both coasts. It works in smart and unexpected ways.

  5. 3 out of 5

    mark monday

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29857foaiur823408jf8u058oiej03q850345u38u5304jrjg0824503498gjapoisd0f93t8u3094utjeiopj0358tu0295iwrkferprjt08u45jou8g0ujsouga;lskjfwoeiur284729857foaiur823408jf8u058oiej03q850345u38u5304jrjg0824503498gjapoisd0f93t8u3094utjeiopj0358tu0295iwrkferprjt08u45jou8g0ujsouga;lskjfwoeiur284729857foaiur823408jf8u058oiej03q850345u38u5304jrjg0824503498gjapoisd0f93t8u3094utjeiopj0358tu0295iwrkferprjt08u45jou8g0ujsouga;lskjfwoeiur284729857foaiur823408jf8u058oiej03q850345u38u5304jrjg0824503498gjapoisd0f93t8u3094utjeiopj0358tu0295iwrkferprjt08u45jou8g0ujsouga;lskjfwoeiur284729857foaiur823408jf8u058oiej03q850345u38u5304jrjg0824503498gjapoisd0f93t8u3094utjeiopj0358tu0295iwrkferprjt08u45jou8g0ujsouga;lskjfwoeiur284729857foaiur823408jf8u058oiej03q850345u38u5304jrjg0824503498gjapoisd0f93t8u3094utjeiopj0358tu0295iwrkferprjt08u45jou8g0ujsouga;lskjfwoeiur284729857foaiur823408jf8u058oiej03q850345u38u5304jrjg0824503498gjapoisd0f93t8u3094utjeiopj0358tu0295iwrkferprjt08u45jou8g0ujsouga;lskjfwoeiur284729857foaiur823408jf8u058oiej03q850345u38u5304jrjg0824503498gjapoisd0f93t8u3094utjeiopj0358tu0295iwrkferprjt08u45jou8g0ujsouga;lskjfwoeiur284729857foaiur823408jf8u058oiej03q850345u38u5304jrjg0824503498gjapoisd0f93t8u3094utjeiopj0358tu0295iwrkferprjt08u45jou8g0ujsouga;lskjfwoeiur284729857foaiur823408jf8u058oiej03q850345u38u5304jrjg0824503498gjapoisd0f93t8u3094utjeiopj0358tu0295iwrkferprjt08u45jou8g0ujsouga;lskjfwoeiur284729857foaiur823408jf8u058oiej03q850345u38u5304jrjg0824503498gjapoisd0f93t8u3094utjeiopj0358tu0295iwrkferprjt08u45jou8g0ujsouga;lskjfwoeiur284729857foaiur823408jf8u058oiej03q850345u38u5304jrjg0824503498gjapoisd0f93t8u3094utjeiopj0358tu0295iwrkferprjt08u45jou8g0ujsouga;lskjfwoeiur284729857foaiur823408jf8u058oiej03q850345u38u5304jrjg0824503498gjapoisd0f93t8u3094utjeiopj0358tu0295iwrkferprjt08u45jou8g0ujsouga;lskjfwoeiur284729857foaiur823408jf8u058oiej03q850345u38u5304jrjg0824503498gjapoisd0f93t8u3094utjeiopj0358tu0295iwrkferprjt08u45jou8g0ujsouga;lskjfwoeiur284729857foaiur823408jf8u058oiej03q850345u38u5304jrjg0824503498gjapoisd0f93t8u3094utjeiopj0358tu0295iwrkferprjt08u45jou8g0ujsouga;lskjfwoeiur284729857foaiur823408jf8u058oiej03q850345u38u5304jrjg0824503498gjapoisd0f93t8u3094utjeiopj0358tu0295iwrkferprjt08u45jou8g0ujsouga;lskjfwoeiur284729857foaiur823408jf8u058oiej03q850345u38u5304jrjg0824503498gjapoisd0f93t8u3094utjeiopj0358tu0295iwrkferprjt08u45jou8g0ujsouga;lskjfwoeiur284729857foaiur823408jf8u058oiej03q850345u38u5304jrjg0824503498gjapoisd0f93t8u3094utjeiopj0358tu0295iwrkferprjt08u45jou8g0ujsouga;lskjfwoeiur284729857foaiur823408jf8u058oiej03q850345u38u5304jrjg0824503498gjapoisd0f93t8u3094utjeiopj0358tu0295iwrkferprjt08u45jou8g0ujsouga;lskjfwoeiur284729857foaiur823408jf8u058oiej03q850345u38u5304jrjg0824503498gjapoisd0f93t8u3094utjeiopj0358tu0295iwrkferprjt08u45jou8g0ujsouga;lskjfwoeiur284729857foaiur823408jf8u058oiej03q850345u38u5304jrjg0824503498gjapoisd0f93t8u3094utjeiopj0358tu0295iwrkferprjt08u45jou8g0ujsouga;lskjfwoeiur284729857foaiur823408jf8u058oiej03q850345u38u5304jrjg0824503498gjapoisd0f93t8u3094utjeiopj0358tu0295iwrkferprjt08u45jou8g0ujsouga;lskjfwoeiur284729857foaiur823408jf8u058oiej03q850345u38u5304jrjg0824503498gjapoisd0f93t8u3094utjeiopj0358tu0295iwrkferprjt08u45jou8g0ujsouga;lskjfwoeiur284729857foaiur823408jf8u058oiej03q850345u38u5304jrjg0824503498gjapoisd0f93t8u3094utjeiopj0358tu0295iwrkferprjt08u45jou8g0ujsougalskjfwoeiur284729857foaiur823408jf8u058oiej03q850345u38u5304jrjg0824503498gjapoisd0f93t8u3094utjeiopj0358tu0295iwrkferprjt08u45jou8g0ujsouga;lskjfwoeiur284729857foaiur823408jf8u058oiej03q850345u38u5304jrjg0824503498gjapoisd0f93t8u3094utjeiopj0358tu0295iwrkferprjt08u45jou8g0ujsouga;lskjfwoeiur284729857foaiur823408jf8u058oiej03q850345u38u5304jrjg0824503498gjapoisd0f93t8u3094utjeiopj0358tu0295iwrkferprjt08u45jou8g0ujsouga;lskjfwoeiur284729857foaiur823408jf8u058oiej03q850345u38u5304jrjg0824503498gjapoisd0f93t8u3094utjeiopj0358tu0295iwrkferprjt08u45jou8g0ujsouga;lskjfwoeiur284729857foaiur823408jf8u058oiej03q850345u38u5304jrjg0824503498gjapoisd0f93t8u3094utjeiopj0358tu0295iwrkferprjt08u45jou8g0ujsouga;lskjfwoeiur284729857foaiur823408jf8u058oiej03q850345u38u5304jrjg0824503498gjapoisd0f93t8u3094utjeiopj0358tu0295iwrkferprjt08u45jou8g0ujsouga;lskjfwoeiur284729857foaiur823408jf8u058oiej03q850345u38u5304jrjg0824503498gjapoisd0f93t8u3094utjeiopj0358tu0295iwrkferprjt08u45jou8g0ujsouga;lskjfwoeiur284729857foaiur823408jf8u058oiej03q850345u38u5304jrjg0824503498gjapoisd0f93t8u3094utjeiopj0358tu0295iwrkferprjt08u45jou8g0ujsouga;lskjfwoeiur284729857foaiur823408jf8u058oiej03q850345u38u5304jrjg0824503498gjapoisd0f93t8u3094utjeiopj0358tu0295iwrkferprjt08u45jou8g0ujsouga;lskjfwoeiur284729857foaiur823408jf8u058oiej03q850345u38u5304jrjg0824503498gjapoisd0f93t8u3094utjeiopj0358tu0295iwrkferprjt0; and yeah Paul this is actually an interesting book but I definitely don't think it is your kinda interesting. know what I mean?

  6. 3 out of 5

    Lee Foust

    I have a soft spot for this one, I believe the first Kathy Acker novel I ever read. (I read a short text she'd written for an art anthology called, humorously, Just Another Asshole where her work stood out so much I sought out her novels.) Overall Great Expectations isn't as epic as the later, longer novels but it is probably her most personal work and very characteristic of her style of appropriation. I think I've already said it in reviews of her later novels, but Acker has this interesting te I have a soft spot for this one, I believe the first Kathy Acker novel I ever read. (I read a short text she'd written for an art anthology called, humorously, Just Another Asshole where her work stood out so much I sought out her novels.) Overall Great Expectations isn't as epic as the later, longer novels but it is probably her most personal work and very characteristic of her style of appropriation. I think I've already said it in reviews of her later novels, but Acker has this interesting technique of appropriating other texts, of beginning with characters, motifs, and even direct quotations of other authors and yet being one of the most easily recognizably individual authors of all time. there's no mistaking an Acker. You recognize her "voice" so easily and quickly. Yet, as she says, it's writing that's "all fake (copied from other writing) so you should go away and not read it." Linguistic paradox, therefore, marks her work. As does experimentation. Which is more evident in Great Expectations. Here, too, experimentation at the linguistic and syntactic level--which is not nearly as evident in the later novels as it is in this one. (I saw one review that quoted a run-on, conglomerate sentence as the reason the reviewer failed to read beyond a few pages. My condolences.) As a writer more naturally prone to experimentation at the linguistic, rather than the greater formal level, that's probably what excited me most about Great Expectations when I first read it back in the mid-1980's. Lately, re-reading all of her novels from the last backward to the first, I've been struck more by the terse brevity of most of her sentences and marveling at the effects she gets by the juxtapositions of different statements--some stolen, some meta-narrative, some contradictory, and many very personal. In her fine biography of Acker, Chris Krause mentioned that Acker often cannibalized her personal journals so that explains the personal. The personal traumas of her mother's death and her own agonizing about sex and love and various boyfriends and partners works well here within a frame of Dickens's bildungsroman (the story of the sentimental education of a young man) and Sextus Propertius's romantic difficulties. PS This is a good place to begin if you've never read Acker--short, indicative, brilliant--even if it's not her best.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Ruth

    I would like to give it more stars. Groundbreaking work should get all the encouragement one can give, but I just didn't understand it. Fortunately, in a way, I didn't expect to like the book and I was not disappointed. I was pleased to discover several shorter passages that did move me. - Obviously the rules which govern the dress and conduct of the terrorists don't apply to her. (48) - You put all thoughts away. Thoughts can be present in those hiatuses when you're not a machine moving to survi I would like to give it more stars. Groundbreaking work should get all the encouragement one can give, but I just didn't understand it. Fortunately, in a way, I didn't expect to like the book and I was not disappointed. I was pleased to discover several shorter passages that did move me. - Obviously the rules which govern the dress and conduct of the terrorists don't apply to her. (48) - You put all thoughts away. Thoughts can be present in those hiatuses when you're not a machine moving to survive. (48) - Self-reflective consciousness is narrational. (58) - My emotional limbs stuck out as if they were broken and unfixable. (58) - I had to keep the joy growing to blot out my consciousness of what was happening to me. Sensuous beauty is its own perfect excuse, for it brings itself into existence. (73) - I hate the inside of my mind. (74) - In Paris policemen wearing blue triangular hats walk past buildings smaller them themselves and murderers look like each other and wear black. The ornamentation of Venice is precise a fairytale. The Roman streets lie sunlit, though there's is no sun, where rooms, above, wander into room after room so that inside is outside though it isn't. (74-75) - SARAH (to the waiter): Uh ... Uh I, I ... don't want anything. I'm not really very happy. Thank you. (92) - Portrait In Red Red everywhere. Red up the river, where it flows among the green pines and old mining camps; red down the river, where it rolls defiled among the tiers of the shipping and the dock pollutions of a going-to-be-great (and going-to-be-dirtier) city. Red on the rain marshes, red on Queen Anne Hill. Red creeping into each of the abandoned cabooses; red creeping over the half-torn-away train tracks and lying on each weed; red climbed over the hacked-up docks into the commercial steel ships. Red in each longshoreman's eyes when he returns home and slaps his wife around red at the end of the cigarette butt red in the dynamite red of the fire. Red of the eyelid and nose flesh of the bums walking down First Avenue past the more monetarily successful artist. Red the colors of the condos they're building over the bodies of old people who now have nowhere to live. Red the artist's hand not from paint but from striking his lover's face out of repressed fear. (94-95) - Criminalities, which are understandable, mix with religious practices, for people have to do anything to satisfy that which can no longer be satisfied (107) - I am only an obsession. Don't talk to me otherwise. Don't know me. Do you think I exist? Watch out. Madness is a reality, not a perversion. (119)

  8. 5 out of 5

    Ernest

    No doubt the late Ms. Acker would abhor the whole notion of a star rating system, probably regarding it as the by-product of the capitalist patriarchy's emphasis on hierarchical order. This order, Acker and other postmodern punk feminists would argue, is a necessary precondition for perpetuating the hegemony of man (specifically, the white, heterosexual, socially dominant, predatory male). And so, a seemingly lukewarm 3-star rating coming from me, a white heterosexual male, would seem to validat No doubt the late Ms. Acker would abhor the whole notion of a star rating system, probably regarding it as the by-product of the capitalist patriarchy's emphasis on hierarchical order. This order, Acker and other postmodern punk feminists would argue, is a necessary precondition for perpetuating the hegemony of man (specifically, the white, heterosexual, socially dominant, predatory male). And so, a seemingly lukewarm 3-star rating coming from me, a white heterosexual male, would seem to validate this notion. But really, I see this more as a coin flip, for the novel rapidly vacillates between intentional impenetrability/unreadability (one star) and devastatingly acute feminist critique (five stars). Just as Schrodinger's cat ( a popular reference point for postmodernists) is simultaneously alive and dead until the observer detects a cat that is either alive or dead, so too does this patchwork of plagiarized texts, explicit pornographic passages, juxtapositions of historical figures, and realistic psychological observations forever exist in a flux between conventional narrative insight and deconstructed playfulness which, if nothing else represents "action" which "breaks through deadness". What balances the emotionally detached experimentalism of long stretches of the novel are equal doses of genuine pathos arising from surprisingly straightforward depictions of kitchen sink domestic realism. Consider this bit of dialogue from one of the several trapped, victimized female characters: "But I want him to love me. He's never going to give me what I want, but I'll still f*** him." Lines such as these, in direct, devastating fashion, capture the dilemma of many (most?) women navigating the minefield of love and marriage. In this regard, the middle section, detailing the tenuous relationship between Clifford and Sarah, is a triumph of feminine psychological insight and render this uncompromising novel worth reading even for the skittish and unadventurous.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Joel

    Det är svårt att riktigt njuta av en bok när man vet att den här boken är vad som står mellan en och ens sommarlov. (10 sidor tenta om denna boken dessutom) Boken skulle jag kanske snarast beskriva som en Écriture féminine-remix av Naked Lunch (två rätt obskyra referenser att använda, jag ber om ursäkt). Det handlar om prostitution, masochism, konstnärer, att verkligen älska sin mamma, sexuella övergrepp i krig osv. Roligaste var kanske den delen där en karaktär säljer lösnummer av den ultraintell Det är svårt att riktigt njuta av en bok när man vet att den här boken är vad som står mellan en och ens sommarlov. (10 sidor tenta om denna boken dessutom) Boken skulle jag kanske snarast beskriva som en Écriture féminine-remix av Naked Lunch (två rätt obskyra referenser att använda, jag ber om ursäkt). Det handlar om prostitution, masochism, konstnärer, att verkligen älska sin mamma, sexuella övergrepp i krig osv. Roligaste var kanske den delen där en karaktär säljer lösnummer av den ultraintellektuella tidskriften (semiotext(e)) i ett gathörn och ser ut som en hobo. Det eller att sluta sina kapitel med en kolon:

  10. 3 out of 5

    W.B.

    This is one of Acker's lushest books, but one of her most caustic books as well. One could argue that all her books are simultaneously sadistic and masochistic...this one being no exception in that regard...the Dickens title and parody refer more to the expectations artists hold for the artistic life, and she brutally dissects all this with the eye of an economist...she equates the economies that thrive in art with the basest forms of prostitution....but the language is richly baroque and the im This is one of Acker's lushest books, but one of her most caustic books as well. One could argue that all her books are simultaneously sadistic and masochistic...this one being no exception in that regard...the Dickens title and parody refer more to the expectations artists hold for the artistic life, and she brutally dissects all this with the eye of an economist...she equates the economies that thrive in art with the basest forms of prostitution....but the language is richly baroque and the images are exquisitely tooled...I think comparisons with Cellini would be pretty apt...both the gold and silversmithing of her masterfully tooled pictures of desire and the totally amoral lifestyle....

  11. 3 out of 5

    Victoria

    If you've ever wanted to know how the mess got made. If you've ever been raped on the set of a porno. If you've ever revisited your own personal traumas so often you've mixed them up with all the other events of your life in a memory stew so thick and rich it's inedible. If you've ever incorporated literature into your childhood memories and claimed that fiction as yours. If you've ever wanted to read a book... read this one.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Katrinka

    3.5. This is a tough one. Going to have to think this through and detail my struggles with it on the blog.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Mia

    couldn't even get past page 30.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Cecily

    "Madness makes an alcoholic sober, keeps the most raging beast in an invisibly locked invisible cage, turns seething masses of smoke air into calm white, takes a junky as if he's having a pleasant dream, halts that need FAME that's impossible. / I am only an obsession. Don't talk to me otherwise. Don't know me. Do you think I exist? / Watch out. Madness is a reality, not a perversion." "There are no more images. This is what it is, this is why you can't run from me. There's only obsession. / Love "Madness makes an alcoholic sober, keeps the most raging beast in an invisibly locked invisible cage, turns seething masses of smoke air into calm white, takes a junky as if he's having a pleasant dream, halts that need FAME that's impossible. / I am only an obsession. Don't talk to me otherwise. Don't know me. Do you think I exist? / Watch out. Madness is a reality, not a perversion." "There are no more images. This is what it is, this is why you can't run from me. There's only obsession. / Love will turn on the lover and gnaw." Very few people write about the obsessive desire to be loved and to feel intimacy, however momentarily, better than Acker. Acker's writing reminds me of a late Cindy Sherman photograph: a woman simultaneously beautiful and grotesque, an old woman posing as a nymphette, a strikingly, meticulously made-up woman dipping dangerously into uncanny valley with her plastic doll-like features. Sherman's women struggle with the phenomenology of the male gaze: she yearns to escape from its dominion, yet is a woman still desired, still beautiful, when she escapes the role of the object of desire? Acker grapples with a similar, very female struggle; she is simultaneously empowered by the desirability of her flesh (coupled with her aloofness to the roaming male gaze, superior in her indifference) and utterly, completely destroyed by it, losing sense of her own identity as she responds to and arches into strange men's every demand. In a perverse way, the concealment of even abandonment of emotion in turn becomes an assertion of her own identity, steering dangerously into Cartesian realms, severing (violently and painfully) the mind and the body. Acker cries in anguish, IS THERE ANY NEED FOR EMOTION? Yet also realizes that "everything that is mental is true." Acker sees her body; her writing is entrenched in the fleshiness, a sobering reality of corporeality that is not necessarily erotic. She sees her body, sees herself as her body, yet her mind remains scattered, struggling to piece together the basis of her identity. Recalling Frantz Fanon's struggles with the physicality of his skin color, Acker searches for the answer in the sensuousness of her femininity for a question she cannot necessarily fully articulate; what both writers do, in the end, is to only lament, "O Body, let me be one who always questions." / "My Mother," (An unfinished novel, just like an unutterable question.)

  15. 5 out of 5

    Rodrigo Vargas

    Es un libro extraño. Tiene imágenes bellas y terribles a la vez. Me gustó, pero siento que no lo logré asimilar completamente, no sé si eso será problema de mi lectura, o de la narración tan posmoderna, sólo por eso las 3/5 estrellas.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Jakub Szestowicki

    <3

  17. 5 out of 5

    Saturnina

    This was my second try with Acker. I was curious to see if the grotesqueness of Empire of the Senseless is a feature of all her books, and how I would feel about it now. It turns out yes and no. In some ways I sometimes managed to sort of like the mad narration but overall I feel it was too incoherent. The basic setting and the message seems to be that the women are all weak and crazy and the men all exploitative, gross, and crazy. Meh.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Jane Gregg

    This would be one of the more approachable of Acker's works. A good one to start with (but read her Don Quixote first).

  19. 4 out of 5

    Chris

    To me, this is a novel all about the quest to be successful in one's family, sexual relationships, and art, and the ultimate frustrations of those desires in the modern sphere. It has a lot of what Acker is known for: bizarre digressions into the most lurid and horrific of sexual and violent fantasies- S+M culture, rape, sex work, etc. but she also goes a lot into what it means to be an artist (ie writer) in an age when writing is no longer a medium that makes any sense for the public. There are To me, this is a novel all about the quest to be successful in one's family, sexual relationships, and art, and the ultimate frustrations of those desires in the modern sphere. It has a lot of what Acker is known for: bizarre digressions into the most lurid and horrific of sexual and violent fantasies- S+M culture, rape, sex work, etc. but she also goes a lot into what it means to be an artist (ie writer) in an age when writing is no longer a medium that makes any sense for the public. There are a lot of different threads running through the novel, and as usual, it was a bit of a dizzying read, but it is also very genuine and takes on what sounds like an almost confessional tone at points. In any case, if you can handle the rough imagery and the loose structure/plot/being a novel that Acker is great at, this is a very good book.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Sophie

    Un excellent livre post-moderne, où réalité, intertextualité, philosophie et événements complètement déjantés s'enchaînent pour plonger le lecteur dans un univers qui dérange, qui pousse à réfléchir. Kathy Acker remet en questions les conventions (littéraires, culturelles, historiques,..) dans ce livre qui se dévore. Ne cherchez pas une histoire du point A au point B, laissez-vous plutôt porter par les réflexions des différents personnages et appréciez l'inconfort.

  21. 3 out of 5

    Jan magdalene

    this is the best kathy acker i have read so far... the least needlessly triggering and fucked up and racist and the most political and interestingly philosophical about writing and stuff... which isn't saying a ton. but if u insists on reading kathy acker than i would recommend this book above all of her others even though it is still intense and fucked up.

  22. 5 out of 5

    A

    A pastiche of plagiarised texts, Kathy transforms what could have been a torrent of nonsense, into a way of customising the fabric of its original text into her words. Her cause. Her way of escapism. However, I admit her book borders on esoterica, I might never picked this up if not for uni.

  23. 3 out of 5

    Derek

    Difficult book but it was interesting.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Xina

    I guess its one of these love-it-or-hate-it books... For me personally it's absolutely the second of these two options.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Leo

    love this one

  26. 5 out of 5

    Brendan

    Difficult to get through, buy starkly moving and beautifully disturbing.

  27. 3 out of 5

    Sarah Monty

    I respect the dedication and art displayed in this book but often did not enjoy it.

  28. 3 out of 5

    Susannah

    My feelings about this book are way too complicated to give it a star rating but I thought it was gorgeous and confronting and it makes me want to write.

  29. 3 out of 5

    Will

    My new favorite maxim: "Since the world is a hostile place to me, I have to be able to do whatever I want."

  30. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca

    This book screws with your mind in such a beautiful way. I was left bewildered and loving every second of it....

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