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Aliens & Anorexia

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  912 ratings  ·  47 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 ...more
Paperback, Semiotext(e) / Native Agents, 261 pages
Published August 16th 2013 by Semiotext(e) (first published March 2nd 2000)
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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, its hard to follow sometimes. Still its a great book and the combination she does is pretty unique, theory, with fiction, with performance. Definitely on the Chris Kraus side, always. ...more
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,
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.
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
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 ...more
Jan 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: new-york
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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 ...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 ...more
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
Jul 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars
Nov 11, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A downer of a book of many failures, woven together. Things are good then distant. Chance is dangerous and not consistent. Rejecting this world is sometimes the way to go.
I really like this book.
Four and a half, really, out of five only because it meanders a lot. But thats just how it is and I still like it the way it is.
This is a book I plan on coming back to.
This book is part of the series that begins with I Love Dick and ends (I think) with Summer of Hate. In this installment, Kraus refers to herself as "I" and finally tells the story of her "failed" experimental film, Gravity and Grace, the ghost that has haunted the previous two books. In typical fashion, though, this is not a linear narrative. Beginning at the end, so to speak, of the film, we find Chris at a European film festival, desperately trying one last time to find distribution for her ...more
Patty Gone
Kraus's miniature biographies of cultural figures such as Paul Thek and Simone Weil are fascinating and compelling, and she does an excellent job of weaving and drawing connections between all these biographical and autobiographical materials through Aliens (male predators) & Anorexia (the feminine byproduct of such predation). However, Kraus's interaction with Gavin is much more compelling than the characters of the film, so when the final section follows only the film with no cuts back to ...more
Dec 06, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love Chris Kraus, & that's all there is to say. 1 of the last of the true bohemians. Turns any discourse, from her developmentally disabled friend, to her phone sex affair, to Simone Weill, eclectic and attention grabbing.
Aug 31, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reading this book made me feel like I was on drugs - exhilarating, enlightening, saddening and bewildering all at once. Chris Kraus took my emotions and put them through a philosophical shredder. Just because things seem serious, it doesn't mean they are.
Genevieve Michaels
Fascinating! I love the way Kraus's books give a (seemingly) brutally honest window into the writer's mind. The plot/through-line was not quite as compelling as in I Love Dick but I still enjoyed just letting all the different components wash over me.
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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 ...more
“...remaining adolescent means rejecting all compensatory lies about one's life...” 7 likes
“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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