Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Literal Madness: Three Novels” as Want to Read:
Literal Madness: Three Novels
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Literal Madness: Three Novels

3.76 of 5 stars 3.76  ·  rating details  ·  157 ratings  ·  16 reviews
My Death My Life by Pier Paolo Pasolini imagines the Italian filmmaker and writer returning to the Roman homosexual hustlers he knew, in a “scathing commentary on false values in art” (The Hartford Courant).
Paperback, 352 pages
Published January 13th 1994 by Grove Press (first published 1987)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Literal Madness, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Literal Madness

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret AtwoodThe Second Sex by Simone de BeauvoirA Room of One's Own by Virginia WoolfThe Bell Jar by Sylvia PlathJane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
Best Feminist Books
363rd out of 1,050 books — 1,253 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 364)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Kathy Goes to Haiti - 11/11/14
Early Acker that's interesting in that it's not quite as "balls out" (in certain ways) as much of her other work (I wouldn't quite say "later" because THE BURNING BOMBING OF AMERICA I believe predates this & is itself crazy and perfect)--but what's fascinating here is the direct engagement with "feminism"--and I use scare-quotes here because part of the novel's operating parameters seem to be to constantly destabilize the idea. The character of Kathy waivers bet
Jul 12, 2009 R. rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to R. by: Melanie
Shelves: 2009
I'd been curious about Kathy Acker; I knew of her work by reputation only: placement in the indie/queer section in the late 90s at Powells Bookstore in Portland, Ore.

If you were gay, bi, pierced, curious, protoemo, a mopey pomo or overselfmedicated on Prozac and taking a lot of long drives to Powells in the rain you, too, no doubt saw the Ackerthologies.

I want to note that I recently learned through a review that Acker once did an interview with Alasdair Gray - author of the delightful Poor Thi
Apr 11, 2011 Drew added it
I'm not offering a star rating here. I read this at university, years ago and at the time enjoyed it very much as a piece of ludic post-modernist anti-fiction. Of course, nowadays I like to settle down with a Len Deighton, Jeffrey Archer or Jonathan Franzen novel, take a good single malt snifter, and lower myself into the temperate waters of resigned realism. But Cathy Acker had a lot of spunk, a lot of kick. Maybe I should read it again...
Keith Schnell
Literal Madness really deserves three separate reviews, one for each of the two short novels and one short story that are often published together, since they vary widely in subject matter and writing style. As it happens, the three are almost always published as a collection of the novels Kathy Goes to Haiti and My Death My Life by Pier Paolo Pasolini and the short story “Florida,” so a useful review should also combine them.

Kathy Goes to Haiti uses a narrative of the protagonist’s trip to Hait
"Kathy Goes to Haiti" a.k.a. the only story I read in this trilogy, reminded me of a grainy, poorly lit 70s porn movie where there was no pretense of good acting or a comprehensive plot line, merely a short and laughably bad dialogue between two people who happened to be scantily clad around each other and mutually lonely. Which is not to say it wasn't interesting to read, but sort of a strange, meandering plot line that involved a single woman's travels through Haiti. She makes it apparent from ...more
Aug 27, 2009 Dan rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: novels
Three novels by Kathy Acker. In Kathy Goes to Haiti, the protagonist, a white girl named Kathy, goes to Haiti. There, she finds many males suggesting themselves as possible boyfriends or husbands. They tell her it’s because women are not supposed to be independent in Haiti. Kathy starts seeing one of the men, and much of the novel is about their relationship. While Kathy is in Haiti, she learns about its economy and culture. In a number of ways, the novel reflects what Fredric Jameson characteri ...more
Elizabeth Finnegan
Kathy Goes to Haiti

This narrative is accessible to most readers, although many will find its graphic sexual imagery shocking. The novel tells the story of a young woman's travels to Haiti, and does include gripping descriptions of the country's sights and sounds. However the focus is on Kathy's sexual relationship with Roger, a wealthy and influential son of a plantation owner and it is impossible not to wonder why. Acker's true genius is that she never explains this choice. It is up to the read
Winston O'Toole
The problem here was that I tried to read all three in one go. Kathy Goes to Haiti was fine as it's more conventional and I enjoyed the story - despite the fact it was rambly and didn't seem to have a point. I like things that are rambly and don't seem to have a point. Couldn't get through My Death My Life though. There were good bits in there but, try as I might, experimental feminist literature just doesn't seem to be for me. Also: there's a bit where one of the characters says "We only speak ...more
Michael Wais
This book gave me a migraine. Acker's writing's way too sloppy and incoherent.
Yousra Bushehri
Kathy Goes to Haiti

Okay, such a weird but good story. I was little disappointed with the ending, but it fit well with the story. But can I just say that I wanted to slap Kathy entire time.
Nikki Li
Read 115 pages all the way through of Literal Madness before I gave up on it. There are 3 stories in the book, and I only liked the first one: Kathy Goes To Haiti.
Hmmm, I *want* to love Kathy Acker. I think I need to read her in a class setting. I started on Kathy Goes to Haiti but just couldn't get down with it.
Philip Bardach
If anything, this confirmed the fact that Acker's writing is something I appreciate, but not something I derive much pleasure from.
Sage Bartow
Parts of this book were interesting, but overall it was pretty dated. Acker has a very 1970s point of view.
I really love Kathy Goes to Haiti, the others less so ...
Reads like the inside of my brain.
Clara marked it as to-read
Aug 16, 2015
Rupert Dreyfus
Rupert Dreyfus marked it as to-read
Jul 30, 2015
Jasmine Casimir
Jasmine Casimir marked it as to-read
Jul 26, 2015
Unlovely Sara
Unlovely Sara marked it as to-read
Jul 25, 2015
Slava Bouttchenko
Slava Bouttchenko marked it as to-read
Jul 16, 2015
Kirby marked it as to-read
Jul 14, 2015
j marked it as to-read
May 29, 2015
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 12 13 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Dream Police: Selected Poems, 1969-1993
  • Complaints and Disorders: The Sexual Politics of Sickness
  • Versed
  • Beauty Talk & Monsters
  • Deviant Propulsion
  • The American Woman in the Chinese Hat
  • Eden, Eden, Eden
  • First, Body: Stories
  • Three
  • Gay L. A.: A History of Sexual Outlaws, Power Politics, and Lipstick Lesbians
  • Black Girl Dangerous on Race, Queerness, Class and Gender
  • What They Did to Princess Paragon
  • Men Speak Out: Views on Gender, Sex, and Power
  • Like sant som jeg er virkelig
  • An Arab Melancholia
  • The Women Who Hate Me Poetry 1980-1990
  • The Femme Mystique
  • The Work of a Common Woman: The Collected Poetry of Judy Grahn, 1964-1977
Born of German-Jewish stock, Kathy Acker was brought up by her mother and stepfather (her natural father left her mother before Kathy was born) in a prosperous district of NY. At 18, she left home and worked as a stripper. Her involvement in the sex industry helped to make her a hit on the NY art scene, and she was photographed by the newly fashionable Robert Mapplethorpe. Preferring to be known s ...more
More about Kathy Acker...
Blood and Guts in High School Empire of the Senseless Pussy, King of the Pirates Great Expectations Don Quixote (which was a dream)

Share This Book

“They had not, under the heavens and on earth, one single weapon. They don't control the land they live on, the schools which train them, the heat and food their bodies need to live through the winter's cold, the media which gives them language, the military weapons for which they give most of their money. There is no more time in this city. Reasonable people don't let themselves dream because no dream can be true. They have a cry that bought them back to first causes: But we who have no mothers, no fathers, no homes or love. Where are we going to run?” 1 likes
More quotes…