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Blood and Guts in High School: A Novel Paperback – January 11, 1994


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Grove Press; 1st Evergreen Ed edition (January 11, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 080213193X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802131935
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 6.5 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #49,900 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Acker was a pioneer of postmodern fiction

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Customer Reviews

3.0 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Big Girl's Mom on December 10, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I disagree with a number of the previous reviewers. I think Acker uses her style effectively to drive a point home. She is rewriting the canon from a perspective of pain and oppression and her way of doing this is by attacking the very language that aids in her oppression. Janie must relearn language in her own way, hence we watch this process begin through drawings and a relaearning of the alphabet and finally a reconstruction and retelling of well known tales (e.g. The Scarlet Letter). Rather than being only dark and painful, I found the end to be somewhat uplifting by offering a glimmer of hope through the banding together of society's castoffs. It's a difficult book, but I would recommend it to anyone who is interested in seeing what happens when an author attempts to rewrite a personal history and in doing so urges us all to deconstruct our own narratives.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By hangnail on February 4, 2007
Format: Paperback
The previous reviews have said that smart people like it and dumb people don't; I don't think that's true. Someone else said that it should be thrown on the floor because it's filth. I don't think that's true either.

I think that Acker had a gift for writing, but she let her obsession with sex and her need to shock get in the way of it. Several parts in this book shine with something that seems very real and honest - the part about getting an abortion ("I love it when men take care of me"); her detailed interpretation of The Scarlet Letter; the sections where she discusses the fact that women writers are plagiarists, because they can only use the words that men have written before them, for centuries.

But in between all of these flashes of brilliance is a lot of monotonous c-words and f-words and endless repetition of sexual humiliation. It's my opinion that if she had left most of that out, she could have been a great and major writer. Not because I'm morally opposed to the vulgarity, but because it's really boring after awhile. So it's ironic that the extreme vulgarity of her work is probably what made her famous - she attracted attention with shock value, but her work is ultimately, in my view, weakened by the shocking aspect of it.

I thought one quote of Janey's, where she's talking to Jean Genet, explains pretty well why Acker persisted in writing obscene scenes:

"I know where we're travelling, Genet, and I know why we're travelling there. It's not just to travel, but it's so those others who kicked me out have a chance of being at peace, having a chance of knowing the land of the monster without going there.

Genet: Do you think that's possible?"

I think Genet's question is the central one to ask of all of Acker's works.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By frumiousb VINE VOICE on March 17, 2001
Format: Paperback
Janey is a little girl wandering through a fantasy landscape of men who reject her-- her father, Jean Genet, the Persian Slave Trader, Tommy. This is a book communicating a world of pain-- the dialogues in the beginning between Janey and her father as he prepares to leave her for someone else carry the weight of the agony of someone being betrayed by someone so close and all the little lies and tricks we use to pull closer and push away. It's also a book about illness. Janey constantly has pain and infections and disease that cripple her, but she always pushes the physical pain to one side to focus on the men who she knows from the beginning are going to leave her.
It is not the easiest book in the world to read-- the emotion, rather than the plot, is the thread that ties the book together. There's a section in the book which is a series of drawings by Janey that provide a map to her dreams. I used this map to give the reading experience a kind of structure and I found that thinking about the book as a dream landscape made the lack of narrative much less jarring.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 14, 1996
Format: Paperback
First of all , this is not just a book ,this we have it's also a map toa trip that never happens.
Was the persian slave trader real , or was it on Janie's mind? We'll never know for sure , but it's a devastating experience to read how people can need so desperatly the love they will never achieve.
I am an esceptic reader , and so i suspect of the real pretension of the writer , but as a book (or whatever...) it caused a major impression on me.I guess we all got a little Janie inside of us.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Forest F. White on October 23, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Pros: Like most of the books I've been reading lately (Gulliver's Travels, The Gallic Wars, Gardens of the Moon) this book contains some brilliant prose. The parts where Acker deconstructs the Scarlet Letter, comments on capitalist language, and provides the philosophy of the slave trader are particularly good. Even in less coherent passages, it is at least vivid. It is also short.

Cons: Its brevity is a good thing because also like most of the books I've been reading lately, over half the novel is pointless. In this case, the narrative gets so abstract that you can just skip over anything that begins to repeat itself or that makes no sense. Also in this case, the answer as to why the author chose to do this is in the novel - it's a rebellion against capitalist interest. The language is intentionally bad to deny the very people it is criticizing. If you bought the book, as I did, you are the scum she is talking about. Most people won't like this sort of criticism, and even if they do, as I did, it was still a pretty big waste of time. In a way, I love that this novel is pulling down every reader that picks it up. I can respect that kind of spite.

Summary: If you read this novel, you are its victim. If you are interested in that, then by all means read it. It wont be a pleasant journey, but you maybe satisfied anyway.
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