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Great Expectations 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 ☉ [PDF / Epub] ☆ Book Lover By Jennifer Kaufman ❤ – 9facts.co.uk Kathy Acker s Great Expectations moves her narrator through time ❮Epub❯ ➣ Secret Delivery / Her 24-Hour Protector ➢ Author Delores Fossen – 9facts.co.uk gender [BOOKS] ⚣ Kholodovs Last Mistress Author Kate Hewitt – 9facts.co.uk and identity as it examines our era s cherished beliefs about life and art


About the Author: Kathy Acker

Born of German Jewish stock, Kathy Acker was brought up by her mother and stepfather her natural father left her mother before Kathy was born in a prosperous district of NY At 18, she left home and worked as a stripper Her involvement in the sex industry helped to make her a hit on the NY art scene, and she was photographed by the newly fashionable Robert Mapplethorpe Preferring to be known simply as Acker the name she took from her first husband Robert, and which she continued to use even after a short lived second marriage to composer Peter Gordon , she moved to London in the mid eighties and stayed in Britain for five years.Acker s writing is as difficult to classify into any particular genre as she herself was She writes fluidly, operating in the borderlands and junkyards of human experience Her work is experimental, playful, and provocative, engagingly alienating, narratively non sequitur.



10 thoughts on “Great Expectations

  1. Paul Bryant Paul Bryant says:

    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 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 thinkingalong the lines of re doing The Lovely Bones where she doesn t die, so it scheerful, 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. Fede Fede says:

    This is the most complex, cryptic, intellectual book I ve ever read No kidding, guys, it really drove me up the wall Thank God it s very short 128 pages , because I had to read it three times in a row to even start gathering my thoughts Even Calasso s works are vanilla in comparison with this cultural and emotional tour de force a hypertext riddle, a Chinese box, in short a literary challenge that utterly defeated and captivated me It s not only a book about books it s a book about the wa This is the most complex, cryptic, intellectual book I ve ever read No kidding, guys, it really drove me up the wall Thank God it s very short 128 pages , because I had to read it three times in a row to even start gathering my thoughts Even Calasso s works are vanilla in comparison with this cultural and emotional tour de force a hypertext riddle, a Chinese box, in short a literary challenge that utterly defeated and captivated me It s not only a book about books it s a book about the way literature allows us to define and restage our traumas by providing us with any sort of Doppelg nger Literature as a door, a threshold or rather a tunnel through the overlapping strata of consciousness that progressively accumulate in any human biography This is indeed an autobiography but this is Kathy Acker too Things can t be that simple when it comes to the greatest female po mo novelist, praised by William Burroughs as one of his few heirs What she does here is an impressive work of de con struction of the self by means of literary characters impersonating all her existential dramatis person all throughout the novel actually a bewildering, mesmerising prose poetry pastiche revisited classics and avant garde works give shape to the author s memories and images of herself as a child, young girl, married woman, stripper, artist, lover desperate, ecstatic, successful, derelict tore apart by inner conflicts and desires that fuelled her creativity as a writer as well as a woman By continuously switching identity and genre, the author becomes the epitome of the Unreliable Narrator of postmodern fiction Neither a novel nor a memoir then in her own words, this book is to be deciphered as a psychic map of the present, therefore the future Yes, deciphered Because the net of literary references is so intricate that only by googling, racking my brains, testing my poor knowledge and rereading the text over and over I managed not to get lost in it In fact this is possibly the best example of Kathy Acker s well known technique, a unicum in which stream of consciousness, Burroughs cut ups and deliberate plagiarism are inextricably entangled After her mother s suicide, the author started to experience a frame Within this frame time was totally circular because I was being returned to my childhood traumas totally terrifying now because now these traumas are totally real there is no buffer of memory Traumas and memory That s what Acker s work is about The first part of her tale, aptly titled Plagiarism , is a mix of fractured recollections and excerpts from Pierre Guyotat s Eden, Eden, Eden one of the few books that really left me gaping Hard to discern between reality and fantasy when Dickens Great Expectations hence the title , Proust s Recherche , grotesque parodies of 80s sitcoms, Jean Genet s dreamlike eroticism leak through the author s childhood memories, a time in which she experienced ambivalent feelings of love hate for her mother and the lack of a father born in a wealthy Jewish family, the child was deprived of the father figure from the very beginning the man left long before Kathy s birth Both factors influenced the young girl s perception of human nature and relationships, not to mention of her own place in that emotionally dry when not overtly hostile environment I have the image obsession I m scum , as she herself sums it up see also her first and probably toughest novel, Blood and Guts in High School And She realizes that she is at the same time a little girl absolutely pure nothing wrong just what she wants, and this unnameable dirt this thing This is not a possible situation This identity doesn t exist Besides her two failed marriages, all her relationships with both male and female partners are struggles between opposites, in the couple s dynamics as well as in her own mind and soul In fact the sentimental and sexual dimensions of Acker s life converge in her experience as a stripper whore model, during which her physical and psychological masochism, rape fantasies, Freudian obsessions, recurrent nightmares are almost exorcised by the sordid reality she lives in Quite fittingly, she also plunders Pauline R age s Histoire d O suivi de Retour Roissy erotic slavery, prostitution, voluntary suspension of thought and will as a means to be loved by her men are perfectly embodied by the charming and her baroque masochism Once again, any attempt to discern between biography and symbolic imagery is utterly pointless.Part Two, The Beginnings of Romance , is evenemotionally charged In these pages Kathy analyses the passive part she s always willing to play in her love affairs, either by submitting to psychological violence or acting as a catalyst for her men s mental issues Here s what she says about none other than Jackson Pollock I not only understood, I understood and adored I would be the pillow he would kick the warm breast he could cry into open up to let all that infinite unstoppable mainly unbearable pain be alive I would not snap back I would be his allowed of exhibited pain so he could keep going That s why he loved me Keats poem The Eve of St Agnes is the counterpoint to the narration of an important transition in her troubled life, just before she moves in with an artist her second husband from now on she finds herself dealing with an entirely new burden of competition, incompatibility, erotic desire and sentimental idiosyncrasy La Fayette s La Princesse de Cl ves is the literary alter ego she now identifies with By the way, Acker s thoughts about art and creativity another recurrent subject in her work are strikingly deep, and show a good deal of sensitivity with regards to the part an artist is supposed to play in modern society The description of the Seattle artistic lite is just hilarious Since the American culture allows only the material to be real, those who want to do art unless they transfer their art into non art i.e the making of commodities, can t earn money and stay alive Almost every living artist who keeps on doing art has family money or at least one helpful sex partner There re few artists whose work this society desires, for the country needs sone international propaganda and there s nothing as harmless to a materialist as formalist experimentation Well, no doubt our narrator did find her way despite all her insecurities I m going to tell you something The author of the work you are now reading is a scared little shit She s frightened, forget what her life s like, scared out of her wits, she doesn t believe what she believes And it s Melville who speaks on her behalf about the pathos of the artistic adventure In the last part, The End , the main literary reference she picks is the Latin poet Propertius and his Cynthia Thus Acker dissects the dichotomy between love and sex, affection and sensuality, feelings and passion the woman keen on hedonism, materialism, eroticism, a prostitute and a narcissistic individual and the poet socially committed intellectual craving devotion and faithfulness engage in a love dialogue that soon turns into a verbal assault, in which all the repressed conflicts of the author s soul burst out in a final declaration of intent.As usual, no answers or rather, too many answers at the same time Because all we know for sure is that We shall define sexuality as that which can t be satisfied and therefore as that which transforms the person So No plot, fragmented narration, narrative planes twisting and overlapping, shameless plagiarism, unconventional syntax, experimental language explicit contents and imagery.The apotheosis of postmodern meta fiction, a masterful example of antinovel, a chaotic cluster of philosophical musings and digressions, a monument to literary plagiarism as a weapon to destroy and rebuild literature.All this in 128 pages.Yes, Ladies and Gents only 128 pages It s terrifying.Good grief, I d give both my kidneys to an organ trafficker to have half her genius I confess whenever I meet someone like Kathy Acker, I fall hard and fast Tormented, talented, educated, sexually ambivalent, brilliant, mentally unstable, full of contradictions the sort of person I should avoid like the plague, because they tend to awake some dormant aspects of my personality that really should stay where they belong And it invariably ends badly for me, that is But.Like it or not, one s nature always prevails over rationality That s why I just can t stay away from Acker and her violent, poetic, cathartic writing Once I get trapped in a cobweb, I just can t wait to be eaten up by the spider Well, it s okay for me We don t ever have to be ashamed of feelings of tears, for feelings are the rain upon the earth s blinding dust our own hard egotistic hearts Hi, Kathy A kiss, wherever you are now We will meet in the place where there is no darkness

  3. Mel Mel says:

    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. Jonfaith Jonfaith says:

    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 readAcker, but not just yet

  5. Nate D Nate D says:

    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 littleconventionally coherent in the process, but I m pleased to report that though this is easily my favorite Acker yet, it s actuallybroken up and disorienting than the last I d read, it still feelscohesive 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 littleconventionally coherent in the process, but I m pleased to report that though this is easily my favorite Acker yet, it s actuallybroken up and disorienting than the last I d read, it still feelscohesive 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

  6. Lars Meijer Lars Meijer says:

    We shall define sexuality as that which can t be satisfied and therefore as that which transforms the person

  7. Lee Foust Lee Foust says:

    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 isevident 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 writernaturally 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 struckby 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

  8. Ruth Ruth says:

    I would like to give itstars 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 itstars 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 themonetarily 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

  9. Ernest Ernest says:

    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 thisas 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

  10. W.B. W.B. says:

    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 masochisticthis one being no exception in that regardthe Dickens title and parody referto the expectations artists hold for the artistic life, and she brutally dissects all this with the eye of an economistshe 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 masochisticthis one being no exception in that regardthe Dickens title and parody referto the expectations artists hold for the artistic life, and she brutally dissects all this with the eye of an economistshe equates the economies that thrive in art with the basest forms of prostitution.but the language is richly baroque and the images are exquisitely tooledI think comparisons with Cellini would be pretty aptboth the gold and silversmithing of her masterfully tooled pictures of desire and the totally amoral lifestyle

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