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MY MOTHER: DEMONOLOGY: A Novel Hardcover – July 20, 1993

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 268 pages
  • Publisher: Pantheon; 1st edition (July 20, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679403493
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679403494
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,506,152 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Acker's ( Blood and Guts in High School ) 10th novel continues her well-established tradition of nontraditional prose: she borrows from both absurdism and metafiction, yet the final product is her own--a haunting and sometimes amusing fictional event. In a voice at once disturbing and wryly humorous, her narrator, Laure, recounts both dreams and real events to subtly weave together a dark autobiography. Laure's journey from the emotional and sexual abuses of childhood to the confusion of a girls' boarding school is fraught with psychological tortures, both created by and imposed upon her. Her attempt to overcome her parents' cruelty, her fetishization of various friends and lovers, and her eventual transformation into a weathered, motorcycle-riding bohemian are all told in vivid if surreal detail. Acker infuses often shocking social and political commentary that never detracts from her voice--everyone from the Marquis de Sade to H. Ross Perot fits right into the stew. Yet the book may leave some readers cold. Acker's constant graphic references to bodily functions and violent sexual acts are part of the experimental voice, but readers may feel as if the experiment--and the joke, as well--is on them. Despite inspired writing and astute observations, the novel ultimately fails to make us care. What emerges is a hallucinatory amalgam of emotion and desire, held together by a series of abstract events.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

"Memories do not obey the law of linear time," reads one of the many aphorisms in this novel, and it seems a key point of departure for Acker's unconventional exploration of memory and its manifestations in dreams. Here, a woman tries to come to terms with her vulnerability and with the excess mental baggage conferred by time. But that simple narrative is just one of the many important levels in the work, which also contains vast psychological wallpaper. Visceral, unflinching, wildly experimental with shifting contexts and settings, this is written in the "punk" style for which Acker ( In Memoriam to Identity , LJ 7/90) is well known. Forget categories, though. Her formidably talented hand gives the cacophonous materials compelling poetic rhythm and balance. Recommended for most collections.
- Brian Geary, West Seneca, N.Y.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 23 people found the following review helpful By alexander laurence on April 20, 2004
Format: Paperback
Notes from September 9th, 1991: "Acker talked about taking a piece of writing and jamming with it, sampling it, altering it. A phrase, a word, a section. The way jazz is made . . .not interested in the assignment of meanings, of the formalizing academic way. Thinking of working with structures or getting to intuition are similar. . . "
I know that I was exploring many formal things in writing when I encountered Acker (being interested in Georges Perec and Oulipo). I was writing haikus, pangrams, always starting with a structural idea in mind, also being familiar with Queneau's Exercises in Style. Kathy was pushing me to be more intuitive, raw, exposing the unconscious. She emphasized Surrealist types of strategies. She wanted us to write every word and every sentence in an interesting way. She wanted us to explore dreams. Dreams were a big deal with Kathy. I see My Mother: Demonology as one long extended dream.
Kathy wanted us to break through with writing, to reach some key moment, some epiphany, or some crime, whatever. Jill St. Jacques explained this to me as exhausting oneself in thought, coming to a wall, then going beyond, and getting to another wall.
I had been reading some books by Michel Leiris and I had finally got to Guilty by Georges Bataille. Also after reading Illuminations by Rimbaud, I realized what a big influence he was on me, and most of the poetry that I had written between 1987-1992. Surrealism and Rimbaud. The story that I wrote in 1991, "The Seasons," was referring to Rimbaud; and slightly to Jasper Johns. I also wrote a few things in imitation of Leiris.
The next meeting Kathy talked about the writings of Blanchot and Borges. She talked about the "surface story" and what is it about.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Annie Barber on December 17, 1999
Format: Paperback
This is my favorite Kathy Acker book--in fact, it is one of my all-time, absolute, favorite books of all time. It is just stunning, amazing, incredibly gorgeous, beautiful, the end I was in a sweat, fainting, overwhelmed, thoroughly blown away by the incredible beauty and truth of this book. It will change you, open things up, a real SUBLIME experience. I could not recommened it enough.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By David Beavers on September 5, 2003
Format: Paperback
Kathy Acker goes full speed, there's no doubt about that. What's interesting is how funny this book is -- not just the kind of humor that makes you bite your tongue ('though there's plenty of that), but the kind of nervous laughter that forms a barrier; she may be a no-holds-barred writer but she also speaks from places of total vulnerability. K.A. is a samauri of the highest caliber (plus she's insanely wicked-smart), and the artistry of her fiction is in pulling down barriers (tooth and nail) and pulling you inside, then showing the mirror image of the whole messy process. K.A. is a kind of cut-up fictioneer, too, and My Mother: Demonology is largely an experiment in memory, desire, & dream-state; the fact that K.A. wrote down any of this at all is just a coincidence. A terrifying & compelling read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Mark Nadja on May 29, 2008
Format: Paperback
This may well be Acker's masterpiece--a book in which all of her previous experimentation achieves its fullest transmutation into a fluid organic whole. *my mother: demonology* isn't a novel, so much as a state of consciousness enclosed between two covers--a book that's like a box of spirits which once opened are impossible to put back and instantly take possession of the unwarily susceptible reader.

Supposedly, according to the publisher, "based loosely on the relationship between Colette Peignot and Georges Bataille," but so loosely one would scarcely know it unless they were told, and then only partly based thereupon, and ultimately not at all essential to comprehending the text--it is far more useful to describe *my mother: demonology* as an assemblage of dream, memory, fantasy, automatic writing, personal myth, political jeremiad, and literary criticism, organized around a centrally located x-rated deconstruction and reconstruction of Emily Bronte's *Wuthering Heights.*

It's not especially useful to talk about this book in terms of plot and just a little less useful to talk about it in terms of theme, although there is a narrative and it is about something; texts such as this one are composed like pieces of music or expressionistic paintings--the structure is essentially non-linear, "organic" and "poetic" as opposed to "logical," predominately emotional rather than intellectual. You might say that, as a book, it's closer to prophetic vision than potboiler.
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