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Pussy, King of the Pirates

3.61 of 5 stars 3.61  ·  rating details  ·  555 ratings  ·  59 reviews
A loose reworking of Robert Louis Stevenson's classic Treasure Island, Acker's radical interpretation is a masterfully directed, wild trek through real and imagined history, from the most famous whorehouse in Alexandria through an unidentified, crumbling city that may or may not be sometime in the future.
Paperback, 288 pages
Published December 5th 1996 by Grove Press (first published 1996)
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This is like going to church, without the boring hymns or the itchy Sunday dress. So actually it's not like church at all.
Renee Alberts
Jan 24, 2008 Renee Alberts rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Nikki
A tenet of some religious sects is to discover sacredness by embracing the profane, including social taboos, death, bodily fluids and sex. In Pussy, King of the Pirates, characters certainly revel in profanity: they live in graveyards, eat rats, smell terrible, brawl and have frequent deviant sex in rancid muck. Their very names—O, Pussy, Silver, Virgin, Ostarcism, Antigone, Bad Dog—suggest transgression. They live as social outcasts, despise their fathers and mothers, prostitute themselves for ...more
Nathan "N.R." Gaddis
Kathy Acker's where it's at.
If where it's at is not
Where Kathy Acker is,
Then where it's at is wrong.
And that's not where I wanna be.
Cuz I'm gunna be where Kathy Acker's at
Because she's where it's at.

Kathy Acker's where it's at.
Kathy Acker's where it's at.
Kathy Acker's where it's at.

Kathy Acker's where it's at.
If where it's at is not
Where Kathy Acker is,
Then where it's at is wrong.
And that's not where I wanna be.
Cuz I'm gunna be where Kathy Acker's at
Because she's where it's at.

Kristen Ringman
A bit crazy and wild and mad, but I love the sex scenes with witches beating people with!
Mandy Jones
This book should be read for expiremental purposes only. It is like tripping balls on acid and letting Gloria Steinam drive the golf cart. It is very bizzare, but interesting
Lola Wallace
May 15, 2008 Lola Wallace added it
Shelves: college
The problem with nonlinear narratives is that they're often boring. It pains me to say that about a book called Pussy, King of the Pirates.
Marinda Bland
Kathy Acker was a revolutionary feminist postmodern badass writer (died in ’97) who delighted in tearing apart other works of literature and subverting and re-purposing their contents, adding enough of her own work to be original. AND Acker was friends with Neil Gaiman, who modeled the character Delirium in his Sandman series after Acker. (Squee!)

That squee didn’t last very long. This book was not exactly what I expected when I signed up for a pirate adventure novel partially stolen from Treasur
Mostly, I love telling people about this book. I like that more than actually reading it. Which probably says something about my character, or lack thereof.
Jade McDonough
Kathy Acker was an author that took classic tales and rewrote them from a transgressive and feminist perspective. Now, I will put it out there that transgressive fiction is not for everyone. It sometimes settles into a metaphoric vibe that can be difficult to follow. Now, I love this kind of writing.
Pussy, King of the Pirates is a retelling of Treasure Island. It is not a direct telling of the story we all know. Here the world turns on the energy of female sexuality and self possession of pleasu
Kathy Acker - an incredible talent, died too young of cancer - a disease created through intensely focused self-anger. You can see the disease forming within the images Acker conjures in "Pussy, King of Pirates." Brutal socio-sexual plagiarized adventure story, or deep, genotype-coin flip, psychological excavation? Acker's fever-dream of grrrl-pirates, Chinese bordellos and masturbating bears is violent, sacrilegious, sexy, disturbing and revealing all the ugliness of the human condition in so m ...more
I first read Pussy, King of the Pirates in a college English class eight or nine years ago, and the only thing I remember about it was thinking that this must be what it's like to be on an acid trip.

The book called to me like a siren, though, and recently I was drawn back to it for a second reading. It's as trippy as I remembered, but (dare I say it?) I feel like I'm on the verge of having it make sense. Either the intervening years have made me wiser or I'm on the verge of going crazy. I suppos
I really liked reading this once I was able to let go of the fact that it's dream-like narrative structure wasn't necessarily going to make linear sense on the surface. It was easier to handle than "Empire of the Senseless," but I'm not necessarily sure that I understood any better. I just accepted that I wasn't necessarily going to grasp everything, though, and just decided to enjoy reading.
WORST BOOK OF ALL TIME! I literally read this somewhere around twelve years ago, I don't ever remember, and it was SO BAD that I didn't read again for five years because I was afraid of books. Literally, this book made me stupid for five years.
Pax Analog
The most striking title from the punk queen of blunt remix -- genre, rebellion, gender-bending libido colliding deliriously.
i loved "treasure island" when i was a small child. now that i'm an adult i get to read the x-rated version. cool :-)
I don't know how you could write a book like that without a lot of drugs--or how you could write it with drugs. For the first 20 pages or so I was constantly trying to figure out what was literal and what was symbolic. Then I realized that all of it is both, and that I'm not stupid, it's just that the book makes no narrative sense, but it does a brilliant job of capturing dream-logic, and makes a lot of intuitive sense. It's a very political book even as it constantly undermines its arguments wi ...more
Transgressive fiction, isn't an everyday kind of a affair, and for a good portion of the book I had the nagging feeling that I was not part of the intended audience. The more I read, the more I realized that I didn't want to be part of the intended audience, I wanted to distance myself from it. It's that uncomfortably good at times. It strikes at the comfort zones that matter. It was a phenomenal read.
I remember reading this book god-knows-when and lately it's been on my mind. It actually took about a week to track down what the title actually was because all I could remember was that it was some surreal twist on the Story of O.

I also remember really wanting to like this book more than I actually did. It's one of those books, full of exciting promise that lets you down.
May 28, 2009 Dan rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: novels
This novel begins with its narrator, O, in a brothel. In later passages, she is in a girls’ school; in the alleyways of a deserted city; driving her motorcycle; meeting punk boys; walking around in a cemetery in which rats are living; and fighting pirates. O tells her friend Ange about her dreams; she also comments on her love for the King of the Pirates. The style of the book and the events it represents is dreamlike; moreover, it deploys an interesting juxtaposition of the language of pornogra ...more
Jan magdalene
hard to get into. i dunno entirely how i feel about the style... once i was past the first 60-ish pages i got into it and enjoyed it, but the whole thing was almost a bit boring. i'm sure i will read more kathy acker though, because it did manage to pique my interest.
I appreciate the deconstruction and abstraction of her technique, I just wish more of it had been centered around the genre that the title purports to be. Very little is around the pirate story, instead more is centered around The Story of O. and I am assuming Kathy Acker's dream journals.
Pussy is like listening to someone's sexually themed-dream for 200+ pages. Symbols and images exist without context (or the opposite end of the range: blatant psychological explanation) and skip around without any sense of narrative or cohesion. In addition, repeated descriptions of masturbation and intercourse are not scandalous or shocking, just repetitive and numbing. You know there's a feminist message on overt display (the "treasure" lies within women. take control of yor own orgasm), but i ...more
Uneven, not that even is necessarily desirable. It's just that Pussy wants so very much; she might take more than she gives. She's well researched and very through. Very through. I found the final third-- the return to O's story, etc.-- absolutely riveting. She may cling to me yet.
Half way through this, Acker writes, "Dreams are the mouths of us girls, and all the poets know this," and I guess this book knows this, but what I have to come to terms with is that I don't want to read about dreams. Reading about dreams strikes me as similar to hearing about them-- it's boring.

Also, the early section set in Alexandria, Egypt, had no Arabs in it, and didn't resemble Alexandria in any way. I understand that this is all part of Acker's technique, but why does a white woman's lite
Kathy Acker makes me want to be a pirate, re-read "Antigone," meet the Mekons, shave my head, and ride off into the sunset on a motorcycle with this book tucked into my bag. Like all of Acker's prose, it is radiantly filthy, plagiarized yet raw and new like a freshly skinned knee. It is the great tragedy of my life that I never got to stalk her before she died; instead I am forced to spend more time than I'd like to admit finding unpublished material on the internet. Read it if you dare, then bu ...more
If you enjoy illogical sentence structure that does not adhere to traditional grammar rules, you are in for a treat. It reads something like a Brecht play. It doesn't offer many entrances into "losing oneself" in the story because the non-linear structure keeps you on your toes. I constantly asked myself: what is going on? Might be a good book for you? I think it asks one to think about their own life; how can you relate to the experiences Kathy Acker retells and so poses an interesting challeng ...more
J.T. Wilson
In some places this book reads like the delirious genius of schizophrenic writing and in others, it's nothing more than tedious, incomprehensible avant-garde with swears and feminism juxtaposed into it. The incoherent middle section destroys the book, the other two sections are perfectly acceptable. But then perhaps the structured narrative is just another form of hegemonic violence against girls who have been dead for so long and who live through dreams?
Angus McKeogh
If there was a message I missed it. Just an uninteresting, terrible story. Potentially one of the worst books I've ever read. Might've destroyed me for lesbian, experimental fiction forever.
It's been many, many years since I read this.

So... imagine if Robert Anton Wilson was a completely obscene punk feminist who believed that really, the best way to make a novel work is to completely fuck with the reader's head. There were times when I was wondering if this book was a story or a polemic against sanity. It predates 4chan by several decades, but you can see where they got the inspiration from.
I have seen a lot of varied reviews of this book. It is an experimental narrative and is interesting from a technical perspective, it contains enough references to sex and body fluids to shock, but the characters are not interesting and in the end, I did not find the narrative innovative enough to be worth the work required to pay attention.

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description problem 2 22 Oct 31, 2007 09:30AM  
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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
More about Kathy Acker...
Blood and Guts in High School Empire of the Senseless Great Expectations Don Quixote (which was a dream) In Memoriam to Identity

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“Dreams are manifestations of identities.” 70 likes
“If you ask me what I want, I'll tell you. I want everything.” 46 likes
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