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Aliens & Anorexia

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  1,091 ratings  ·  62 reviews
First published in 2000, Chris Kraus's second novel, "Aliens & Anorexia," defined a female form of chance that is both emotional and radical. Unfolding like a set of Chinese boxes, with storytelling and philosophy informing each other, the novel weaves together the lives of earnest visionaries and failed artists. Its characters include Simone Weil, the first radical philos ...more
Paperback, Semiotext(e) / Native Agents, 261 pages
Published August 16th 2013 by Semiotext(e) (first published March 2nd 2000)
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Average rating 4.06  · 
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Lee Foust
Aug 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Connections. Juxtapositions. Narrative. Non-sequitur. Personal essay. Lies. Fiction. A screenplay novelization. Philosophy. Citation, reference, and allusion. Confession. A bulimic writer purging words from a mind that wants to empty itself, become alien, de-create. Sex. Phone sex. S & M. Writing as abstinence. Writing broken down into compartments and mixed, jumbled.

I begin reading this on the airplane, the eleven-hour flight to Frankfurt from San Francisco, during the pretend nighttime, after
Feb 22, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I never realized Aliens was the least popular of Kraus's "torpor" trilogy, but it's my favorite. It's the one where she assembles a radical philosophy of sadness. I love that. I reread it because it was snowing a lot where I live.
Dec 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
I love chris Krauss, and I loved the part about Simone weil, but she speaks of so many different things, it´s hard to follow sometimes. Still it´s a great book and the combination she does is pretty unique, theory, with fiction, with performance. Definitely on the Chris Kraus side, always.
Jacob Wren
May 05, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourites
I love all books by Chris Kraus. But Aliens & Anorexia holds a place in my heart far beyond all others.
Nate D
Dec 29, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Before she became the groundbreaking theorist / novelist / detourned-conceptual-memoirist she is today, Chris Kraus was the maker of deft, smart experimental films, culminating in her rarely-seen, under-acknowledged feature Gravity and Grace. The film took its title from Simone Weil but explored the modern emptinesses waiting to be filled by cult membership and the aimless but determined pull towards art. It didn't do well with audiences, critics, or festivals, it seems, and both the unwieldy pr ...more
Christina knox
Aug 27, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
it's sort of like reading a really involved blog. it's an effective and interesting piece of writing. basically, the protagonist is shopping a film that sounds like a dispassionate mess of pretension while thinking back to shooting it. this is interspersed with a biography of simone weil and a rambling narrative about sado masochism and phone sex lines.

it's kind of bitchy and present. it's interesting, the way that the post y2k era can seem retro despite being written like the hyper modernity i
Jul 01, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Okay, okay I only finished 3/4 of this. I pride myself on finishing books even when they’re shite but in this case life is just too short. No idea what she’s on about.
Jan 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: new-york, favorites
Part art criticism, part biography, part memoir, part sadomasochism philosophy (or D/s as Kraus often abbreviates it).

This is a real tour de force exploration of Kraus' philosophy and life lived. I learned so much from her: About the art of Paul Thek, about philosophy and life of Simone Weir, about Kraus' film Gravity & Grace, and about her epistolary D/s romance with "Africa". For that, I say "thank you, Chris. This was great!"

The thread that ties these parts together is a specific kind of fail
Pavol Hardos
Jun 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, philosophy
You love the book and cannot quite say why. It's the sort of book that is bought on a whim at MoMA PS 1, where else, and then tucked safely in the bookshelf, to be whisked out at random 4 years later at a moment of emotional crisis, riffled through and found deeply engrossing. It is digressive, it is sublime, it is philosophical, it is beautiful, it is, above all, profoundly sad. And you feel better after reading it, though you would not be able to explain quite what it was about. ...more
Peter Knox
It's clear after reading this book why Chris Kraus is the art world's favorite writer - this was indeed an interesting collage of experimental fiction mixed with memoir/essay/thesis.

The book is a unique reading experience, switching back from diary entries, to straightforward memoir, to emails, to thesis arguments, philosophy essays, art history, and topped off with a screenplay/film treatment. It was difficult to switch between what felt real (and was surely autobiographical) to treatise-like
new narrative, if i'm using that term correctly. collagistic, memoirish. a lot of philosophy (Simone Weil, especially) and other meaty kind of stuff mixed in with the day to day. borrows from deleuze in her formulation of anorexia as an active stance, "the rejection of the cynicism that this culture hands us through food" (163). the citation of which is a reality check as i need to go write my paper FOREAL. ...more
Feb 01, 2021 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I struggled with this book more than I would like to admit. I think the problem is that it’s quite inconsistent... either that, or its sort of stream of conscious/random free associations are just too unkempt for me. This is at its best when it is chronicling the life and work of Simone Weil, I think, but gets too bogged down in excursions into the lives of random curators and people Kraus met at a party. It’s also very clear that its target audience is exclusively academics, which I guess is OK ...more
Jun 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
Once I was reading this book while eating fancy waffles alone on a work trip, the book was flat on the table and there was no way to see the title, and a teenage busboy asked me excitedly 'are you reading Aliens & Anorexia?' years later I lent my copy to my partner to take on a work trip and they met someone who was reading the exact same book and was on the same page. anyway what I'm trying to say is that this book is good and has possibly supernatural properties. ...more
Sep 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Jan 22, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
i didn't love this one as much. 'video green' and 'i love dick' totally rocked my world, but this one fell a little flat for me. the intelligence and insight is still there, but the hard bright clarity of language is absent here. conceptually, i love the idea, re-staging a "failed" film into a novel, but it's not totally compelling in practice. aliens and anorexia, however, is a piece of the larger narrative kraus tells about her own life in her four novel/essays, and is interesting in that some ...more
Charles Dee Mitchell
Wider ranging than I Love Dick, but as a result not as satsifying as a novel -- or whatever Kraus's books officially are. She can be very funny and deadly point on when writing about the contemporary art world, and she also makes a totally absurd group of apocalypse dreamers poignant. I don't think I will read Simoe Weill as a result of Aliens and Anorexia, but I have gone out and bought a 500 page book on Paul Thek, an artist that has previously been only a name to me. ...more
Dec 21, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reading as a prequel to her series, it's the weakest link in Kraus's tumultscape of regretable relationships and hiccuping career, but still worth a read. Like the film she struggles to complete in the book, the whole thing falls apart in the end - but strewn throughout, some excellent lit crit and insightful interpretations of the body's reactions to the culture at large. ...more
Apr 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
me reading this now was divine timing. "sadness is the thing i'm moving towards. some recognition of it as a philosophical position" 4.5 ...more
Sean Tatol
Oct 15, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I knew Kraus wasn't my thing but I wasn't expecting how much of a pseudointellectual she is. I can see how her wealth of references would be impressive to art school undergrads, but she's fair to middling for your average person who's been in the art world for a decade and she uses names as invocations of authority instead of just arguing her point, which is especially suspect when you know the work of the people she's referencing and she's skewing or missing the point of their work. I mean, you ...more
David Haws
If Chris Kraus had been forced to swallow her own ideas for thirty years, finally spattering herself against a brick wall at 60 MPH, I imagine the result might look something like Aliens & Anorexia. People who write for an audience are typically looking for feedback, and if your audience is not terribly bright or engaged (and you are) most of that feedback is negative. Getting used to rejection, summative evaluations become formative, and the objective of creating something pleasing to yourself ...more
Jianna Justice
Kraus is a compelling anti-hero, or the fictional Kraus that narrates this particular version of events. But often, the language and references feel muddled in a way that attempts expansiveness but ends up just isolating the reader unless they have a vast comprehension of French theorists, NYC lit circles, etc. Ex: a chapter written as a letter to Benjamin? She’s wildly intelligent but at times hard to digest for me personally unless it is a reference I am able to catch and feel a part of? Hard ...more
Jul 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
Part novel, part autobiography, part thesis, this book was bizarre and interesting to read. I enjoyed each "genre" that made it up, and the way they swirled and blended together into this odd piece about existence and connection and otherness and reaction to suffering. Its style was extremely unique but I really liked it; it almost had the air of performance art to it, since it was so obviously a concept piece. But it works and doesn't come out seeming contrived. There were some interesting idea ...more
Jun 12, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
What is Aliens and Anorexia? not sure I could adequately explain, but it’s got me thinking and discussing existential meaning more than anything I’ve read recently. A personal tale of anorexia, a series of anecdotes about relationships and coincidences, at times a social critique, moments of humor, plenty of surrealism, and a massive introduction to the philosophy of Simone Weil.

This has one of the most nuanced and humanist descriptions of anorexia I’ve ever read— talking of the damage to body a
Nicole Drako
Jan 23, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I feel like the magic of Kraus’ writing reveals itself during the second reading of her work. This book is a journey through art critique, Simone Weil, anorexia, female dis embodiment, sadness and Kraus’ own experience of directing her film Gravity & Grace. The use of form, repetition and abrupt changes in gear make this an exciting read but also left me wondering what the hell I was reading at times.
This book read like a very spaced out, scattered conversation with an estranged friend but I honestly enjoyed it. I don't have anything specific to say about this book, it was my introduction into Chris Kraus' work and I do have other readings I want to get into from her so this could be something I come back to and enjoy further but for right now 3 stars feels the most honest. ...more
May 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a fascinating, disjointed, vulnerable, impossible-to-define read... Ostensibly a novel, but really a wild mix of art history, private journal, philosophy, transcripts from BDSM phone chats, and a film script..! It was addictive and I'm deeply fascinated by the author herself, who seems very torn and vulnerable and tough and honest. ...more
Mar 10, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Truly a work of art.
Her words spoke to my inner core, revealing new ideas and thoughts.
This book is existential, yet strangely comforting towards the end. You can tell the Chris is incredibly intelligent and articulate. She puts into words what a lot of us are thinking.
The title implies that it may contain triggering content, but the topic of anorexia was handled well with care.
Mar 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Confusing from to time to time, got better with every page. Very well written and interesting but sometimes hard to follow.
Jul 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars
Feb 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: english
I didn't think there could be a weirder book than I Love Dick, but Chris Kraus really outdid herself on this one.

In a good way, I think.
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Chris Kraus is a writer, filmmaker, and professor of film at European Graduate School in Saas-Fee, Switzerland.[1] Her books include I Love Dick, Aliens & Anorexia, and Torpor. Video Green, Kraus' first non-fiction book examines the explosion of late 1990s art by high-profile graduate programs that catapulted Los Angeles into the center of the international art world. Her films include Gravity & G ...more

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“The panic of altruism: sadness rests inside the body, always, nascent like the inflammation of a chronic disease.
Therefore, empathy is not a reaching outward. It is a loop. Because there isn't any separation any more between what you are and what you see.”
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