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Blood and Guts in High School

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3.52  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,169 Ratings  ·  202 Reviews
Janey lived in the locked room. Twice a day the Persian slave trader came in and taught her to be a whore. Otherwise there was nothing. One day she found a pencil stub and scrap of paper in a forgotten corner of the room. She began to write down her life, starting with "Parents stink" (her father, who is also her boyfriend, has fallen in love with another woman and is abou ...more
Paperback, USA / Canada, 165 pages
Published January 11th 1984 by Grove Press (first published 1978)
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Harry Doble I would recommend Lisa Suckdog, particularly her memoir Drugs are Nice, which is non-fiction but very much in the same vein. Also, I felt much of…moreI would recommend Lisa Suckdog, particularly her memoir Drugs are Nice, which is non-fiction but very much in the same vein. Also, I felt much of Blood and Guts had echoes of the modernist poet Mina Loy, who is an earlier experimental writer and feminist. The Feminist Manifesto should give you a good idea of why I make that connection.(less)
A Clockwork Orange by Anthony BurgessFight Club by Chuck PalahniukSlaughterhouse-Five by Kurt VonnegutThe Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger1984 by George Orwell
Best Experimental Books Ever
97th out of 910 books — 1,431 voters
Fight Club by Chuck PalahniukA Clockwork Orange by Anthony BurgessAmerican Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis1984 by George OrwellThe Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
Best Transgressive Fiction
131st out of 730 books — 634 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Shovelmonkey1
Nov 20, 2011 Shovelmonkey1 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: emperors without clothes
Recommended to Shovelmonkey1 by: 1001 books list
Again I turn to the creators and compilers of the 1001 books to read before you die list and ask, "Why?"
Yes, noted scholars, authors and critics who form the all seeing literary eye that is the 1001 books list, "Why do you hate people who read books? And why do you want to punish them so?"

I know the list is supposed to represent many novels, genres and styles not for their likeability but for their uniqueness and their gift to literature and the world at large, but come on. Blood and Guts in Hig
...more
knig
Jun 25, 2012 knig rated it really liked it
If you’re going to make a statement, best jump in at the deep end straight away. And so, the first ten pages are a bevy of delights, a veritable cornucopia of plenty, a smorgasbord of every vile, disgusting, grotesque act known to man. Ten year old Janey is being buttfucked by daddy, because her cunt is red raw from VD, probably acquired from when daddy’s best friend Billy had a go. In between blowing both of them off. The bonus track is a stache of lithographs of daddy’s pecker, in all manners ...more
Anthony Vacca
Jan 03, 2015 Anthony Vacca rated it liked it
Poor pliant Janey just wants to be loved, but when her father dumps her at the age of 10 for a sexier girlfriend, and then ships her off to a New York boarding school, her only option, naturally, is to fall in with a street gang called the Scorpions and devote her pre-teens to a life of petty theft, random sex and multiple abortions. By the time Janey is 14, she has been kidnapped by a malaprop-cracking dwarf and forced into a life of prostitution. She passes the days writing her slaver love poe ...more
Mala
It is so hard to like this book with its clunky prose, weird drawings, garbled thinking, bizarre narrative, a sex-obsessed protagonist...
But once in a while, after such horror-laden passages, you come across something like this that brings a lump to your throat:
"Most people are what they sense and if all you see day after day is a mat on a floor that belongs to the rats and four walls with tiny piles of plaster at the bottom, and all you eat is starch, and all you hear is continuous noise, you s
...more
Nate D
Jun 18, 2012 Nate D rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: street kids, who will kind it beneath debris in the last squat in the LES.
Recommended to Nate D by: journal found in nested boxes beneath the east river
Blood and guts in high school
This is all I know
Parents teachers boyfriends
All have got to go

Some folks like trains,
some folks like ships,
I like the way you move you hips
All I want is a taste of your lips,
boy,
All I want is a taste of your lips.

I'm glad I worked up to this via Acker's first two published novels, which were messy and serially enjoyable, because thye underscore all her techniques while also revealing how elegantly arranged and plotted this one is. Insane and ragged as it is (must
...more
MJ Nicholls
May 14, 2012 MJ Nicholls rated it really liked it
Shelves: novels, merkins, poems, distaff
This book was released in 1978, making “post-punk feminism” an apposite description. Not that punk had stopped in 1978 but post-punk bands were already evolving the two-chord assault of the punk sound into something better (or in the case of Howard Devoto or Jonathan Richman before punk even happened). So this hysterical novel chimes perfectly with the nascent post-punk art explosion coming from NY in the late seventies, entwining it with this glorious period of art-school pretention and irredee ...more
Megan
Oct 21, 2007 Megan rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: you
Mr Fuckface: You see, we own the language. Language must be used clearly and precisely to reveal our universe.
Mr Blowjob: Those rebels are never clear. What they say doesn't make sense.
Mr Fuckface: It even goes against all the religions to tamper with the sacred languages.
Mr Blowjob: Without language the only people the rebels can kill are themselves.

I CAN SCRAWL AND I CAN CRAWL I I I I I I I I I
life GLOOGLOOGLOO
FUCK YOU SHIT PISS
Jonathan
Mar 10, 2014 Jonathan rated it it was amazing
This gets five stars from me, despite its flaws, simply because of the highly impressive range of techniques on display. She draws on all the tools at her disposal in an inventive and impassioned way. Language at its crudest remains language, remains filled with meaning and with power. The speech of the abused is built from abused language, and its brokenness is its strength.
On a lighter note, opening a page which contains nothing but a large drawing of a cunt while sat on a packed tube train,
...more
Blake Nelson
Feb 18, 2013 Blake Nelson rated it really liked it
I didn't understand about Kathy Acker's fiction before I read this. Since the title was BLOOD AND GUTS IN HIGH SCHOOL, I thought it would be about high school. And would feature blood and guts. it was something totally different. I felt so frustrated I wrote my own book of BLOOD AND GUTS IN HIGH SCHOOL. But I called mine: GIRL.
Scott
Jul 14, 2007 Scott rated it did not like it
Seriously, what's this supposed to be? I love a good anti-novel as much as the next pretentious hipster, but don't just slap together a bunch of stuff and then bore me to death with it.
Stephanie
Jan 11, 2009 Stephanie rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: people who like to read books solely for shock value
Absolutely the worst book I have ever read, and I've read a lot of books. This was horrid. The only reason I read it was because it's on the 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die list, and I am now obsessed with reading every book on the list. Up to this point, it hadn't really steered me wrong. That streak has ended. Honestly, I have no problem with vulgar books, and I don't shy away from books with pornographic material. It wasn't the fact that the main character in this novel was sleeping w ...more
Nomy
Nov 30, 2007 Nomy rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: writers
okay a disclaimer. this book is weird and racist and has fucked up incest fantasies and a million things that might make your skin crawl. it's also poetic and experimental in a way that was really inspiring for me as a nineteen year old trying to find my voice. like, none of the rules about writing matter, you can create your own punctuation and grammar, you can change the spelling of your main character's name halfway through, you can explore sexuality in the way it really feels which is not a ...more
Jennifer Barbee
Sep 18, 2009 Jennifer Barbee rated it it was ok
Here's a polarizing one, huh? I read some Acker in college - you know, back when my hair was purple, my stereo was screaming with angry grrrl singers, and the world was just. not. ready. for. my. brilliance! I liked it then. It felt subversive and important. In fact, it felt a whole lot like all the shit I woke up at 5pm and read that I wrote on a youthful rebellious cocaine binge when I was about 19 years old. Bad words, sex, cunt, piss, shit, run on sentences, angst angst angst.

Yeah. I'm 34 n
...more
TerryJane
Jul 15, 2015 TerryJane rated it did not like it
We've been punked, folks. I suspect that the critics and editors involved in recommending this trash via the "1001" list are laughing their collective asses off, knowing they've tricked yet another reader into falling for their pathetic prank. How has this "novel" stayed on the list?

This is undeniably the worst piece of crap I've ever read. I'd rather have read the ingredient list on my shampoo bottle than to have wasted my time on this tripe. Actually, I could've poured the shampoo into my eyes
...more
Travelling Sunny
So.
Nothing to do with high school.
Nope. Know of this nothing. Still not expected what.
Remember Worstward Ho? Worse.
Post-punk feminist porn. Said The Internet.
Angry. Messy.
Angry. Confusing.
Angry. Clear as crystal.
Definitely punk. Angry.
Experimental writing? Read between the lines. No. Read every other line then read it again but only the lines that were skipped and then try to put the pieces together in your mind.
Remember House of Leaves? Worse.
Cocks. Lots and lots of cocks.
And cunts.
And painfu
...more
Ren
Feb 10, 2008 Ren rated it really liked it
I ran into Acker via these kids I lived next door to when I was about 23. They ate a lot of E and Acid. I was listening a lot of Patti Smith and PJ Harvey at the time and they were like "here, Kathy Acker" and I read it and I really liked it. You can analyze Acker's work all you want. I'm sure it's important/powerful/whatever but if you aren't between the ages of lets say 16 and 23 you might miss out on how much brutal fun this book is.

At current, it doesn't rank as something I'd be that interes
...more
Tessa
Sep 18, 2011 Tessa rated it it was ok
Shelves: contemporary
Blood and Guts opens with ten-year-old Janey Smith barricading her front door because she suspects her father (“boyfriend, brother, sister, money, amusement and father”) of sleeping with another woman. Once this nasty little incest narrative is established, we are flung into a mish-mash of words, languages, genres and styles which leaves the reader totally confounded and with no idea what is supposed to be going on. A thin plotline can be extricated from this mess: Janey leaves her home in Mexic ...more
Kelli
May 07, 2008 Kelli rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: people who hate everything and want to change nothing.
ok, so, do you want my honest opinion? well, i'm going to give it to you anyway.


if you really, really like the following words repeated over and over and over until you can't think straight, then this book is for you:
-cunt
-fuck

so i thought there would be more but no, that's really it. basically, it's horrific. it's worth the read if you like to torture yourself, which apparently i do. also, it was recommended as one of those "top 10 books you've probably never read written by a woman" and yeah,
...more
rosalind
Nov 05, 2015 rosalind rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Having any sex in the world is having to have sex with capitalism. What can Janey and Genet do?
Matt
Feb 05, 2010 Matt rated it really liked it
This is another book that I thought I'd never have to read, only to discover that my students might actually get something out of it, so off I fuck.... but unlike August Burroughs, I really liked this one and think it must have been an earthshaking book, and one of those that I probably SHOULD have read a long time ago.

Honest to god, I feel like a whole generation of experimental writers, pretty much the entire FC2 crew and some others, owe their careers to this book and what's in it.

I'm not a
...more
Melanie
Jul 03, 2009 Melanie rated it liked it
Shelves: 2009
Sometimes I wonder if there's something wrong with my brain, or at least with my memory/reading comprehension/retention abilities. This happens when I read multiple works by the same author in a short period of time; I go on a spree, devouring everything I can find by a particular writer, and at some point, I'll find myself unable to tell one book from another. It doesn't seem to be related to the quality of the author's work--I've experienced this sensation with feline-centric mystery novels pe ...more
Trevor
I really expected to like this book, but just couldn't get into it. Like her mentor Burroughs, or his buddy Brion Gysin, the theory behind Acker's literature is compelling, but the product really isn't--at least not for long (I quit after 50 pages, twice). I admire this stuff--it's punk as fuck, so how can I not?--but don't necessarily devour it. I'm sure I'll give Blood and Guts another shot, but it's not too high on the list.
Jon
Sep 24, 2015 Jon rated it liked it
I've read about Acker for years, mentioned generally in relation to things like post-postmodernism (alongside Bret Easton Ellis), which I'm not sure is a thing that really exists. And so I've finally given her a spin--and certainly what's she's written is different from most things of I've read before. It's a collage of sorts, a mix of styles and speakers and ideas and pictures and words, all put together in one text.

I was reminded of two other things while reading this book. I was reminded of s
...more
Mon
Mar 11, 2012 Mon rated it really liked it
5 star for the first 10 pages (cool penis drawings!), minus 2 star for Erica Jong and overuse of Caps Lock. Extra star because piss blood slut and stuff.
Anselm
Nov 04, 2011 Anselm rated it it was amazing
This book makes most of the work I read that's supposed to be edgy or transgressive come off like elmo's song from sesame st.
Mansoor
Jan 15, 2009 Mansoor rated it really liked it
A book you cannot read on the subway
Demetrius Burns
Apr 30, 2016 Demetrius Burns rated it it was amazing
Lyrical, dense, innovative--this is the unwind, reaction to the manicured edifice that fetishizes and normalizes feminism. This book centers around a child sex slave who takes on many voices to voice her rebellion, assimilation and love towards the gaze that defines and finances her.

It serves as a tour de force of clarity disguised as madness disguised as ramblings. This is a book you should read to yourself as you read through yourself. It will get inside of you. It will get in your guts, wher
...more
Kerri
Jan 12, 2016 Kerri rated it it was amazing
On the surface, this is the story of ten-year-old Janey, who is on a sort of nightmare journey, first being dumped by her father/boyfriend in Mexico (I'll get to this in a moment), then off to New York City where she joins a violent gang. At some point, she's the prisoner of a Persian slave-trader, and finally she meets up with author Jean Genet and they bop across North Africa. The inclusion of a disturbing incestuous relationship between Janey and her father is perplexing. I can't figure out i ...more
Jamie
Aug 20, 2012 Jamie rated it really liked it
One of the most fucked up books I've ever read. I can see, certainly, how it would annoy some in a stylistic manner and infuriate others on a conceptual level (for example, Janey is being...raped?...by her father, but Acker presents this relationship in the terms of a dying love affair). Let's say it's not for the weak of heart, nor is it recommended to those without a sense of incredibly, powerfully grotesque and debasing humor.

Thankfully, I'm a kind of monster with no boundaries! So this was
...more
Ben
Nov 29, 2013 Ben rated it liked it
Still having a tough time wrapping my head around this one.

Acker basically ignores traditional plotting and characterization and instead spews forth with scene fragments, vignettes, drawings, poems, and a host of formal and typographical experiments. Gender, poverty, dreams, sex, literature, the nature of language: Acker attacks all of them and more with relentlessly lateral inventiveness and a general FUCK YOU! attitude. The resulting bricolage-splatter is provocative, filthy, addictively read
...more
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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...

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“Love goes away when your mind goes away and then you're someone else.” 29 likes
“Pain is the world. I don't have anywhere to run.” 21 likes
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