ON SENSELESS EMPIRES
"In the UK, earlier in the 1980s, the arrival from New York of Kathy Acker -- off the back of her commercially successful collection for Picador, Blood and Guts In High School + Two -- had introduced younger British writers (and publishers) to the idea that there could possibly be a connection between the people who bought interesting records (this was still a largely pre-CD era, amazingly) and the people who bought interesting books. Acker presented herself as part rebel bohemian avant-gardiste, part NYC downtown punk, and part venerable literary grande dame.
But Acker -- unlike, for instance, a profoundly literary contemporary such as her fellow avant-gardiste New Yorker Lynne Tillmann -- was both of the literary world and outside it. She fitted and she didn't, for the very reason that she wanted to risk taking her writing, its style and subject, to places which might well be perceived to lack academic or literary respectability. All of which she did with a kind of reckless give-a-shit determination to be contrary -- even when the celebrity and applause with which her work had first been greeted had long since died down. It was in the identification of a position between literature and the weird, vexed, culturally elastic legacy of post-punk music and 'style' culture which would make Acker, in many ways, a precursing figure to the literary and cultural territory which 3:AM magazine would subsequently come to explore."
Michael Bracewell, from the 'Foreword' to The Edgier Waters (2006).
Acker, who died in 1997, is the subject of two new books published last month: Lust For Life: On the Writings of Kathy Acker (Verso) and Bodies of Work (Serpent's Tail new edition).