Books by Karen Finley

GRABBING PUSSY by Karen Finley
Released: Nov. 6, 2018

"Unsparing, hate-fueled diatribes serving as an implicit rebuttal of the 'kill 'em with kindness' approach."
The controversial performance artist and social commentator indulges in a Trump-bashing frenzy. Read full book review >
AROUSED by Karen Finley
Released: Dec. 15, 2001

"Curiouser and curiouser as the contributors take us down their private pleasure warrens."
Finley (Pooh Unplugged: An Unauthorized Memoir, not reviewed, etc.) told her fellow contributors to this anthology of erotica that they could write absolutely anything, and this daft pile of literary whiffle, some of it serious, drifts as far from Henry James as words allow. Linda M. Montano's "Once Upon a Time" mixes the Prodigal Son's return home with his Ascent to the Union of Love by way of recipes for Chai, Keer, Chapati, Basmati rice, and Cashew Rice with Peas. Wallace Shawn pulls out his 1975 battle-of-the-sexes one-act play, The Youth Hostel, while John Waters treats us to photographs of "12 Assholes and a Dirty Foot." Feminist poet bell hooks relates the writing of poetry to her "Penis Passion" and "Gimme Some Dick." Finley swallows her confrontational side but reveals all with "He Delivers! A Straight Woman Looks at Gay Male Porn." Famed fetishists also on hand: Hubert Selby Jr., Annie Sprinkle, and Vagina Davis. Read full book review >
LIVING IT UP by Karen Finley
Released: Oct. 14, 1996

Controversial performance artist Finley, who sent up self-help groups in Enough Is Enough (not reviewed), gives her downtown edge to household goddess Martha Stewart and other icons of supermarket domesticity. It isn't easy to pastiche Stewart, who designed a line of house paints based on the colors of the eggs her chickens laid. But Finley gets in some funny lampoons while uncovering the edgy obsessiveness and darker psychology of a life lived close to a glue gun. Just as Stewart publishes a monthly calendar of her formidable activities, so Finley uses the easy frame of a calendar year for her satire (October—Halloween, when 50 guests are served a breakfast of lifesize marshmallow ghost pancakes). Finley tells us, ``I've come to the conclusion that there is a craft project in everything around us.'' Some of the projects are topical no-brainers: Father's Day parties decorated in a Lorena Bobbitt/penis motif; Menendez room makeovers for angry teenagers, with pictures of Lyle and Erik on the wall. More are grotesque and macabre: cockroach centerpieces for Easter (bunny ears are attached to their little bodies); bath mats woven from hair caught in the bathtub drain; and a do-it-yourself casket. Finley lines hers with ``handmade velvet from France that I've bleached, dyed, and detailed with lace made by nuns in Belgium.'' One feels that Stewart could easily one-up her there. Finley is more fun when she's silly and surreal: ``Well, wouldn't you know that under my left armpit I started growing marigolds! The dwarf orange variety. I left them alone till they got established.'' And she's more pointed in her diary of a depressed and angry woman: ``5:30 a.m.: I don't want to get up. No one cares about my thirty-foot coconut cake heart with cherry butter cream inside.'' With her funny illustrations, Finley serves a merely clever amuse-gueule that could have been a more substantial meal. (Author tour) Read full book review >