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Great Expectations

3.56  ·  Rating Details  ·  542 Ratings  ·  23 Reviews
Using postmodern form, Kathy Acker's Great Expectations moves her narrator through time, gender, and identity as it examines our era's cherished beliefs about life and art.
Paperback, 128 pages
Published January 18th 1994 by Grove Press (first published 1982)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,108)
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Paul Bryant
Jul 04, 2014 Paul Bryant rated it did not like it
Shelves: novels
I read this way back when, when when was only just becoming when. That's few years back now.

Anyway, is it not true that if a songwriter writes something like Hallelujah or I Will Always Love You-oo a whole lot of people rush to record it and sometimes do really interesting & different versions - and some versions are better than the original, Jeff Buckley takes over Hallelujah completely just as Elvis took over Hound Dog and Big Mama Thornton was left looking askance. Yet in the world of fic
...more
Mel
May 11, 2016 Mel rated it did not like it
Shelves: dnf, 1-star
Reason why I DNF'd after 11 pages:

"The soldiers wake up stand up again tuck in their canvas shirttails suck in cheeks stained by tears dried by the steam from hot train rails rub their sex against the tires, the trucks go down into a dry ford mow down a few rose-bushes, the sap mixes with disemboweled teenagers' blood on their knives' metal, the soldiers' nailed boots cut down uproot nursery plants,..."

Enough said.

And before you ask: no that was NOT the end of the sentence (another 9 or so lines
...more
Jonfaith
Jan 06, 2014 Jonfaith rated it really liked it
The personal interiorization of the practice of humiliation is called humility.

This is Jon typing. Jon has been reading. All day. Mortality has reaped recklessly as of late. Right now two people Jon loves are ill in a real bad way. Jon muses and frets. He reads. Jon loved this book despite it being Wrong. He'd love to quote and paste and rant-and-riff about LIFE. But he won't. Jon listens to Marcin Wasilewski and Morrissey. Jon can't turn off his brain. Jon wallows and wonders. He'd love to read
...more
Nate D
Mar 18, 2014 Nate D rated it really liked it
I've been reading Kathy Acker in roughly chronological order, so I've had the pleasure of essentially seeing her honing her craft and develop her singular collage techniques. I'd rather expected to find her plots becoming a little more conventionally coherent in the process, but I'm pleased to report that though this is easily my favorite Acker yet, it's actually more broken up and disorienting than the last I'd read, it still feels more cohesive and gripping as a reading experience. I could "ge ...more
M.
Dec 15, 2014 M. rated it it was amazing
I've basically tried to read one or two Acker books a year since I started reading her. At first, when I discovered Acker, I really found her theory more enjoyable than her fiction, but the more I continue to read her fiction, the more I realize how fantastic it is, despite the fact that in certain ways each novel is a specific failed experiment. That doesn't matter though, what matters is that Acker is a genius and sometimes the best way to demonstrate genius is to prove you're not perfect, bec ...more
mark monday
Apr 09, 2014 mark monday rated it liked it
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...more
Ernest
Aug 04, 2009 Ernest rated it liked it
No doubt the late Ms. Acker would abhor the whole notion of a star rating system, probably regarding it as the by-product of the capitalist patriarchy's emphasis on hierarchical order. This order, Acker and other postmodern punk feminists would argue, is a necessary precondition for perpetuating the hegemony of man (specifically, the white, heterosexual, socially dominant, predatory male). And so, a seemingly lukewarm 3-star rating coming from me, a white heterosexual male, would seem to validat ...more
Ruth
Sep 30, 2014 Ruth rated it it was ok
Shelves: general-fiction
I would like to give it more stars. Groundbreaking work should get all the encouragement one can give, but I just didn't understand it. Fortunately, in a way, I didn't expect to like the book and I was not disappointed. I was pleased to discover several shorter passages that did move me.

- Obviously the rules which govern the dress and conduct of the terrorists don't apply to her. (48)

- You put all thoughts away. Thoughts can be present in those hiatuses when you're not a machine moving to survi
...more
W.B.
Oct 17, 2007 W.B. rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone
This is one of Acker's lushest books, but one of her most caustic books as well. One could argue that all her books are simultaneously sadistic and masochistic...this one being no exception in that regard...the Dickens title and parody refer more to the expectations artists hold for the artistic life, and she brutally dissects all this with the eye of an economist...she equates the economies that thrive in art with the basest forms of prostitution....but the language is richly baroque and the im ...more
Chris
Jun 30, 2014 Chris rated it really liked it
To me, this is a novel all about the quest to be successful in one's family, sexual relationships, and art, and the ultimate frustrations of those desires in the modern sphere. It has a lot of what Acker is known for: bizarre digressions into the most lurid and horrific of sexual and violent fantasies- S+M culture, rape, sex work, etc. but she also goes a lot into what it means to be an artist (ie writer) in an age when writing is no longer a medium that makes any sense for the public.
There are
...more
Mia
Sep 05, 2010 Mia rated it did not like it
couldn't even get past page 30.
Jan magdalene
May 11, 2015 Jan magdalene rated it liked it
this is the best kathy acker i have read so far... the least needlessly triggering and fucked up and racist and the most political and interestingly philosophical about writing and stuff... which isn't saying a ton. but if u insists on reading kathy acker than i would recommend this book above all of her others even though it is still intense and fucked up.
Will
Jun 17, 2015 Will rated it it was amazing
My new favorite maxim: "Since the world is a hostile place to me, I have to be able to do whatever I want."
Brendan
Jun 15, 2014 Brendan rated it really liked it
Difficult to get through, buy starkly moving and beautifully disturbing.
Sophie
Oct 13, 2013 Sophie rated it it was amazing
Un excellent livre post-moderne, où réalité, intertextualité, philosophie et événements complètement déjantés s'enchaînent pour plonger le lecteur dans un univers qui dérange, qui pousse à réfléchir. Kathy Acker remet en questions les conventions (littéraires, culturelles, historiques,..) dans ce livre qui se dévore. Ne cherchez pas une histoire du point A au point B, laissez-vous plutôt porter par les réflexions des différents personnages et appréciez l'inconfort.
Anita Lo
Sep 29, 2012 Anita Lo rated it liked it
A pastiche of plagiarised texts, Kathy transforms what could have been a torrent of nonsense, into a way of customising the fabric of its original text into her words. Her cause. Her way of escapism.
However, I admit her book borders on esoterica, I might never picked this up if not for uni.
Susannah
My feelings about this book are way too complicated to give it a star rating but I thought it was gorgeous and confronting and it makes me want to write.
Xina
Jul 23, 2014 Xina rated it did not like it
I guess its one of these love-it-or-hate-it books... For me personally it's absolutely the second of these two options.
Rebecca
Jul 26, 2007 Rebecca rated it really liked it
This book screws with your mind in such a beautiful way. I was left bewildered and loving every second of it....
Derek
Feb 04, 2009 Derek added it
Difficult book but it was interesting.
Leo
Nov 05, 2008 Leo added it
love this one
Victoria
Dec 01, 2013 Victoria rated it it was amazing
If you've ever wanted to know how the mess got made. If you've ever been raped on the set of a porno. If you've ever revisited your own personal traumas so often you've mixed them up with all the other events of your life in a memory stew so thick and rich it's inedible. If you've ever incorporated literature into your childhood memories and claimed that fiction as yours. If you've ever wanted to read a book... read this one.
Jaime
Jun 02, 2007 Jaime rated it really liked it
i love her.
Lou Last
Lou Last marked it as to-read
Jun 24, 2016
Peach
Peach added it
Jun 24, 2016
Jillian Dove
Jillian Dove marked it as to-read
Jun 20, 2016
Pavel Novikov
Pavel Novikov marked it as to-read
Jun 16, 2016
Joseph Carter
Joseph Carter rated it really liked it
Jun 05, 2016
Decayke
Decayke rated it really liked it
Jun 02, 2016
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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
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