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Pussy, King of the Pirates (Acker, Kathy) Paperback – December 5, 1996


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Once again displaying her penchant-and talent-for scavenging extant texts, Acker (My Mother: Demonology) exploits Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island and Pauline Reage's The Story of O, among other sources, fusing the carnal, the cerebral and the surreal into a fantastical tale. The story spans centuries and continents as it chronicles the adventures of O and Ange, whores who retire from the trade and hire a band of girl-pirates to help them find buried treasure. Told mostly through dreams and dream states and with casual shifts in point of view, the novel divides roughly into three sections. The first, "O and Ange," recounts the two women's days of prostitution: in China, O begins whoring at the request of a boyfriend; she then makes a pilgrimage to "the most famous whorehouse in Alexandria," where she meets Ange, with whom she escapes and discovers a map of buried treasure. The second section, "The Pirate Girls," introduces "King" Pussy, her youth, her two abortions and her sexual history. In the final section, "In the Days of the Pirates," O and Ange hire the pirate-girls and set sail for the treasure island. Acker writes a deliberately affectless, deadpan prose, rendering both the absurd and the disturbing (including several graphic sexual and physiological episodes) with a declarative nonchalance. Like Acker's other work, this campy and enigmatic novel is self-consciously provocative as she detonates her battery of literary and sexual references in order to illuminate themes of masochism and rebellion-but it's also often funny and invariably intelligent.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Ahoy ye maties! Are you ready for this ride through time zones and centuries, into subterranean worlds and onto the high seas to sail for treasure? As the story develops, a host of ribald, mangy characters (who speak in equally ribald language) trot off in search of a lost someone or something. Rarely do they find what they're searching for. However, they do frequently cross paths in whorehouses, in buildings without walls, or on crumbling sidewalks, where they have all sorts of liaisons. One of their other unmistakable, inescapable features is that, almost to a person, they emit acrid odors. Perhaps their outward appearance (and smells) stand as metaphors for the state of their souls. This book is a takeoff on Treasure Island but is far more than a neat little adventure tale. It is heavily influenced by pulp fiction, social satire, religious allegory, and picaresque novels. Acker (My Mother, LJ 7/93) gives readers a lot to chew on here?original sin, alienation, relations between men and women and between women and women, women's independence, and self-determination. As readers step into this cauldron of characters, the real adventure begins. Recommended for public libraries.?Lisa S. Nussbaum, Euclid P.L., Ohio
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Series: Acker, Kathy
  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Grove Press; First Edition edition (December 5, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 080213484X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802134844
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.5 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #679,730 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 13 people found the following review helpful By joshua on October 17, 2002
Format: Paperback
Kathy Acker is, in my opinion, the best avant-garde author who ever existed, and "Pussy King of Pirates" is her greatest work--topping even "Empire of the Senseless"--which is too bad that it was her last.
following the exploits of girls seeking treasure, Pirate girls, and surreal avatars of writers like Antonin Artaud, "Pussy King of Pirates" goes farther than Acker has ever gone with the conventions of literature. ...the book is like a jazz riff, replayed and improvised at numerous times.
i cannot rave enough.
furthermore, "Pussy King of Pirates" has a soundtrack, that Acker recorded with the Mekons, which is also phenomenal.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Susan M. Barron on July 16, 2010
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Sometimes when I can't sleep, I'll let this CD -- which is the companion music/audio re-telling of Kathy Acker's book -- wash over me like a great episode of a favorite TV show. If you like stories that are brash and tonal and that turn your world upside-down, this is a terrific way to get there.

This CD has a lot going for it, and is a roiling stew of Anne Bonney, Pirates of the Caribbean, Off Our Backs, modern women's spirituality and old-timey magical thinking.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By J. Paul on March 5, 2001
Format: Audio CD
Kathy Acker is probably one of the most talented authors of the latter half of the 20th century. This album is an excellent expose for her book of the same title.
Acker and the Mekons do an excellent job of finding different styles of music to fit with the different moods of the book. Acker's literature is reknowned for its avant-garde method of "plagiarism" (she blatantly steals from other authors and restructures their ideas to fit her own); this album is no different. Many songs sound like other songs--of various genres--that you might have heard before.
Songs on this album range from industrial to trance-esque electronica to disco to reggae-ish folk to post-modern sea shanty. Interspersed between every song is Acker's spoken word.
A must have for anyone who loves Acker's works.
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8 of 12 people found the following review helpful By "blissengine" on June 30, 2002
Format: Paperback
Using a style a bit like that of William Burroughs, Acker weaves a tale of various girls struggling against (society, men, each other, etc.). There are moments of crisp clarity where Acker conveys aspects of the story she's telling with the potent voices she uses, but these are not often enough to bring the story together except for the dedicated transgressive reader. This is the type of book that relies more on voice and atmosphere than on linear storylines, and Acker does succeed in giving us fascinating characters, but I was still left bewildered and numb by the end, as well as left wondering what this book was meant to convey.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Kristy Caley on January 7, 2008
Format: Paperback
Normally I am a huge fan of Kathy Acker, not this. Her style is there but it's jumbled and incoherent.
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