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Kathy Acker

Kathy Acker was a novelist, essayist and performance artist whose books include Blood and Guts in High School, The Childlike Life of the Black Tarantula, Empire of the Senseless, In Memoriam to Identity, Don Quixote, My Mother: Demonology, and her last novel, Pussy King of the Pirates. Born and raised on New York’s Upper East Side, she died of breast cancer in Tijuana, Mexico, in 1997.

Titles by This Author

Correspondence 1995–1996

“Why am I telling you all this? Partly ‘cause the whole queerness/identity thing for me stretches through everything, absolutely everything. Slipping between straight/gay is child’s play compared to slipping between writer/teacher/influence-peddler whatever. I forget who I am. You reminded me of who I prefer to be.” [M.W.]

“It’s two in the morning. . . I know what you mean about slipping roles: I love it, going high low, power helpless even captive, male female, all over the place, space totally together and brain-sharp, if it wasn’t for play I’d be bored stiff and I think boredom is the emotion I find most unbearable. . . ” [KA]
—from I’m Very into You

After Kathy Acker met McKenzie Wark on a trip to Australia in 1995, they had a brief fling and immediately began a heated two-week email correspondence. Their emails shimmer with insight, gossip, sex, and cultural commentary. They write in a frenzy, several times a day; their emails cross somewhere over the International Date Line, and themselves become a site of analysis. What results is an index of how two brilliant and idiosyncratic writers might go about a courtship across 7,500 miles of airspace—by pulling in Alfred Hitchcock, stuffed animals, Georges Bataille, Elvis Presley, phenomenology, Marxism, The X-files, psychoanalysis, and the I Ching.

Their corresepondence is a Plato’s Symposium for the twenty-first century, but written for queers, transsexuals, nerds, and book geeks. I’m Very Into You is a text of incipience, a text of beginnings, and a set of notes on the short, shared passage of two iconic individuals of our time.

You can say I write stories with sex and violence and therefore my writing isn't worth considering because it uses content much less lots of content. Well, I tell you this: 'Prickly race, who know nothing except how to eat out your hearts with envy, you don't eat cunt'...

Edited by Sylvere Lotringer and published in 1991, this handy, pocket-sized collection of some early and not-so-early work by the mistress of gut-level fiction-making, Hannibal Lecter, My Father gathers together Acker's raw, brilliant, emotional and cerebral texts from 1970s, including the self-published 'zines written under the nom-de-plume, The Black Tarantula. This volume features, among others, the full text of Acker's opera, The Birth of the Poet, produced at Brooklyn Academy of Music in 1985, Algeria, 1979 and fragments of Politics, written at the age of 21. Also included is the longest and definitive interview Acker ever gave over two years: a chatty, intriguing and delightfully self-deprecating conversation with Semiotext(e) editor Sylvere Lotringer—which is trippy enough in itself as Lotringer, besides being a real person, has appeared as a character in Acker's fiction. And last, but not least, is the full transcript of the decision reached by West Germany's Federal Inspection Office for Publications Harmful to Minors in which Acker's work was judged to be "not only youth-threatening but also dangerous to adults," and subsequently banned.

Acker is the sort of the writer that should be read first at 16, so that you can spend the rest of your life trying to figure her out; she confuses, infuriates, perplexes and then all of a sudden the writing seems to be in your bloodstream, like some kind of benign virus. She's definitely not for the easily offended—but then, there are worse things in life than being offended. Such as the things that Acker writes about...