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PUSSY, KING OF THE PIRATES by Kathy Acker

PUSSY, KING OF THE PIRATES

By Kathy Acker

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1996
ISBN: 0-8021-1578-0
Publisher: Grove

 Acker (My Mother: Demonology, 1993, etc.) continues her dizzying experiments in fiction--her dream narratives with their loose structure and shifting pronouns--and again punctuates her prose with the same tired insights on sex, class, and politics. The story goes something like this: ``O'' is searching ``for who she could be,'' and discovers pleasure while watching others have sex. Artaud (the mad poet who's one of Acker's usual suspects) speaks to O of suicide, a ``protest against control.'' O, of Moroccan-Jewish descent, joins a whorehouse in Alexandria, where Lulu and Ange introduce her to dildos and masturbation. She then has a long dream about menstruating in public, after which she and Ange begin their search for buried treasure. In a Brighton pub, she joins with the Pirate Girls (Slut Girl, Brat Rat, Bad Dog, Kiss-of- Rot) and their leader, Pussycat, for whom O longs. The treasure, once discovered, has its origin in the myth of Pandora and her box, which, here, fits nicely with Acker's obsession with vaginal odors. Acker's pirate scenes resemble more the gross-out caricatures of underground cartoonist S. Clay Wilson than anything from Robert Louis Stevenson. She seems most comfortable importing her familiar culture heroes: Baudelaire, Nerval, Pasolini, and others. Meanwhile, her interest in bodily fluids persists, as does her thematic concern with incest, whoredom, cross-gendering, and death. In Acker's tiresome world, homeless people, masturbation, body piercing, and S&M are good; patriarchy, rationality, and morality are bad. Thus extend the subtleties of her imagination. For someone so engaged in experimenting with language, Acker commands a drab vocabulary and limited range of discourse. Some nice sacrilegious images will please the armchair rebels among her readers.