(née Karen Alexander)
Kathy Acker was born Karen Lehmann in New York City in a year variously stated as 1948, 1947 or 1944. She took the surname ‘Acker’ from her first husband Robert Acker. Her initial attempts to find herself as a poet in the mode of Charles Olson and Performance Artist David Antin culminated in the persona of the ‘Black Tarantula,’ the ostensible author of her first collage novels: a trilogy comprising The Childlike Life of the Black Tarantula (1973), I Dreamt I Was a Nymphomaniac (1974) and The Adult Life of Toulouse Lautrec (1975).
Her work employed many of the cut-up and sampling techniques of Beat writer William S. Burroughs, but she was also strongly influenced by French writing and theory – in particular: Marguerite Duras, Jean Genet, and Gilles Deleuze.
- Rip-Off Red, Girl Detective and The Burning Bombing of America: the Destruction of the U.S. New York: Grove Press, 2002.
- Portrait of an Eye: Three Novels (The Childlike Life of the Black Tarantula by the Black Tarantula; I Dreamt I was a Nymphomaniac: Imagining; The Adult Life of Toulouse Lautrec by Henri Toulouse Lautrec). 1973, 1974, 1975. New York: Pantheon Books, 1992.
- Blood and Guts in High School, Plus Two: Blood and Guts in High School; Great Expectations; My Death, My Life, by Pier Paolo Pasolini. 1978, 1982, 1983. London: Picador, 1984.
- Blood and Guts in High School. 1984. New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1989.
- Young Lust: Kathy Goes to Haiti; The Adult Life of Toulouse Lautrec by Henri Toulouse Lautrec; Florida. 1987, 1975, 1987. London: Pandora, 1989.
- Kathy Goes to Haiti. 1978. 2nd ed. 1989. London: Pandora, 1990.
- Don Quixote, which was a dream. London: Paladin, 1986.
- Empire of the Senseless. London: Picador, 1988.
- In Memoriam to Identity: A Novel. New York: Pantheon Books, 1990.
- My Mother: Demonology. New York: Grove Press, 1993.
- Pussy, King of the Pirates. New York: Grove Press, 1996.
- Bodies of Work: Essays. London: Serpent’s Tail, 1997.
- Hannibal Lecter, My Father. Semiotext(e) Native Agents Series. Ed. Sylvère Lotringer. New York: Semiotext(e), 1991.
- Eurydice in the Underworld. London: Arcadia Books, 1997.
- Essential Acker: The Selected Writings of Kathy Acker. Ed. Amy Schneider & Dennis Cooper. Introduction by Jeanette Winterson. New York: Grove Press, 2002.
- [with McKenzie Wark] I'm Very Into You: Correspondence 1995-1996. Ed. Matias Viegener. Afterword by John Kinsella. South Pasadena, CA: Semiotext(e), 2015.
- Fell, Alison, ed. The Seven Deadly Sins: Kathy Acker, Leslie Dick, Zoë Fairbairns, Alison Fell, Sara Maitland, Agnes Owens, & Michèle Roberts. Illustrations by Amanda Faulkner. London: Serpent’s Tail, 1988.
- Fell, Alison, ed. The Seven Cardinal Virtues: Kathy Acker, Leslie Dick, Zoë Fairbairns, Alison Fell, Sara Maitland, Agnes Owens, & Michèle Roberts. Illustrations by Grizelda Holderness. London: Serpent’s Tail, 1990.
Biography & Secondary Literature:
Hardin, Michael, ed. Devouring Institutions: The Life Work of Kathy Acker. San Diego, CA: Hyperbole / San Diego State University Press, 2004.
Harryman, Carla , Avital Ronell, & Amy Scholder, ed. Lust for Life: On the Writings of Kathy Acker. London: Verso, 2006.
Kadrey, Richard. "Black Tarantula: The Intense Life and Uncompromising Death of Renegade Writer Kathy Acker." Salon (3 Dec. 1997).
Ross, Jack. "Kathy Goes to Mexico: In Memoriam Kathy Acker, d. 30/11/97." Pander 5 (1998): 26-27.
Sirius, R. U. "Kathy Acker: Where Does She Get Off? An Interview." Wired (1994).
Viegener, Matias. "Matias Speaks." http://acker.thehub.com.au/matias.html (1997).
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