IN MEMORIAM TO IDENTITY by Kathy Acker

IN MEMORIAM TO IDENTITY

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KIRKUS REVIEW

More postmodern blather from the queen of punk fiction--this mostly incoherent novel is at times a babel of indistinguishable voices, all linked by their gutter-mouths and a contempt for ""bourgeois existence."" With few concessions to conventional narrative, Acker muses on sexual identity in a series of portraits that have something vaguely to do with Rimbaud and Faulkner, whose lives she freely and somewhat cavalierly draws from. Episodes from Rimbaud's life, riddled with deliberate anachronisms, include homosexual rape, bondage, and other kinky stuff; Rimbaud's tempestuous relation with Verlaine is thwarted by the latter's quest for heterosexual respectability, while Rimbaud enjoys the company of criminals and revolutionaries. Two other profiles concern ""girls who like to fuck,"" one of whom is supposed to be the daughter of Caddy Compson, a promiscuous ""slut"" who sleeps with every man in sight, except her brother Quentin. Mother Caddy herself commits suicide, her husband is a worthless drunk, and her other child, a son named Rimbaud, wants to pimp his sister. But Capitol, as she's called, runs off to New York, takes up with a fat musician, and becomes a prominent performance artist who's accused of plagiarism, of ""hating ownership, for finding postcapitalist and Newtonian identity a fraud."" The other sexual adventurer here is Airplane, a judge's daughter who, after stumbling into a low-life of stripping and whoring, discovers survival through sex. This victim of a repressive society who finds ""cunt [to be] the perfume waft of freedom"" becomes involved with a married German journalist, who also likes kinky sex. All this posturing and vulgarity are punctuated by much adolescent philosophizing (""Dead dogs can't eat shit"") and ranting about Thatcher, yuppies, corporations, and nuclear family, and other oppressive forces. For Acker, Rimbaud is a culture hero--a sexual liberationist ahead of his time--and Faulkner a soap opera of money and sex. Obsessed with bodily functions and their odors, Acker tries for high avant-garde but plummets to the pretentiously banal.

Pub Date: July 2nd, 1990
ISBN: 080213579X
Publisher: Grove Weidenfeld