THE CHILDLIKE LIFE OF THE BLACK TARANTULA by Kathy Acker
TVRT Press / Printed Matter, 1978 First thus edition, 152 pp., 4 1/2" X 6 1/2" Softcover
A controversial avant-garde writer and cult figure of the punk movement, Kathy Acker is considered among the most significant proponents of radical feminism and the postmodern literary aesthetic. Associated with the discordant, irreverent music of punk rock, Acker's iconoclastic metafiction—a chaotic amalgam of extreme profanity, violence, graphic sex, autobiography, fragmented narrative, and plagiarized texts—rejects conventional morality and traditional modes of literary expression. Acker's trademark fiction is a pastiche of visceral prose, sensationalized autobiography, political tract, pornography, and appropriated texts in which characters—often famous literary or historical figures—easily move through time and space while frequently changing personalities and genders. Deliberately non-chronological and usually evoking a quest theme, her largely plotless stories progress through disjointed, jump-cut sequences that incorporate fantasy, personal statement, and the juxtaposition of excerpted texts from various sources, such as Charles Dickens, Marcel Proust, and the Marquis de Sade. Acker's trenchant criticism of oppressive middle-class mores, phallocentric culture, and all hierarchial power structures permeates her writings, particularly as symbolized in repeated scenes of rape and incest. In The Childlike Life of the Black Tarantula, a sixteen-year-old female narrator explores alternate identities as a murderess and prostitute, copies passages from pornographic books in which she imagines herself the leading character, and participates in public sex acts.