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Margery Kempe

3.75  ·  Rating details ·  171 ratings  ·  30 reviews
This tale of romantic obsession chronicles two relationships that take place in disparate worlds, separated by 500 years. The story of failed saint Margery Kempe's physical passion for Jesus mirrors the tale of the narrator's adoration of a young man. ...more
Paperback, 204 pages
Published April 13th 1995 by Serpent's Tail (first published November 1st 1994)
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Average rating 3.75  · 
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 ·  171 ratings  ·  30 reviews

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mark monday
Feb 10, 2019 rated it did not like it
The late 80s through mid-90s was a fertile time for experimental queer writers. (It was an exciting time for me as well, as a queer Creative Writing student during that period.) From fiery Kathy Acker to quirky Kevin Killian to angry David Wojnarowicz to loving Joan Nestle to ice cold Dennis Cooper, the sheer range of mood and purpose of this group of fresh voices made reading them an exhilerating crap shoot. Would I be enlightened, as I was with Acker, moved and angered, as with Wojnarowicz? Or ...more
Mar 19, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Well, now I know I will not have to wait until November or December to determine what was the worst book I read this year. I write that even though I am not offended by blasphemy and may even engage in it from time to time. Nor does graphic description of sex get me overheated with disgust. Yet neither the blasphemy nor the sex redeemed this book. A warning: If either of those two things offend you, then not only should you not read this book; you shouldn't read this review either.

There are two
Bhaskar Thakuria
There are some books that, I must frankly state, leave me in a state of rank distaste as to the contents of it. This book was one of those obviously meant in poor taste. Well, I do not really see the point of it all. To put it bluntly graphic sex interspersed with religious devotion is not my cup of tea. I mean to say I can allow for sex in fiction quite generously and I read a lot of erotic fiction too. But semblances of the cunt and the phallus in such graphic detail throughout almost seventy ...more
absolutely loved this book. absolutely could not sell it to anyone who is not a complete freak. contender for top 3 of 2020. margery kempe was a real woman--a fanatic and visionary who is widely believed to have written the first autobiography. gluck contrasts his obsession and grief over a failed relationship in his life with margery's grief at feeling forsaken by jesus and uses the form of autobiography to reflect the stories in a way that is, frankly, cool. sexuality is a big theme here and i ...more
Jul 11, 2008 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: those into The Sexuality of Christ
Shelves: books08
Retelling of Margery Kempe intertwined with gay love. I had really high hopes for this book because it combined two things I adore. But Oh man...not only was Margery Kempe's "affair" with Jesus portrayed in just sex -- no spiritual element to it, all of the women in the book were depicted as just objects for horny men (with description of genitalia or sexual fantasy). Yes, Margery might have been a pain to get along with in her time, but she deserves a bit more respect. And besides, Carolyn Walk ...more
Daniel Polansky
Contrasting tales of a medieval saint's adoration of Christ with the author's own obsessive affection for a younger man. Is this a clever idea or is kinda on the nose? Hard to say. It's also the kind of book where some of the lines are really fabulous and some of them are just total duds. But it's quick and it's weird and I thought it was kind of funny and ultimately this was firmly in the like column. ...more
May 19, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nyrb-classics
wow. even the illustrious NYRB makes mistakes. an absolutely bizarre mess masquerading as literature. wtf did I just read.
This is a book I picked up on a recommendation without knowing what it would be about. So I was surprised! A married mother of the 15th century embarks on a sexual obsession with Jesus, while her parallel, a gay man of the 20th century, likewise craves and lusts after a younger man, called L. Both Jesus and L. are beautiful, aloof objects of worship and fervent longing. They form the centerpiece of two separate "middle-aged" crises.

Margery Kempe is a real figure, a woman who had visions and app
Paul Scott
Mar 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
THE WEIRD TRAIL of circumstance, installment #716. I read a great interview with Glück in Believer magazine about six or seven years ago (conducted by Miranda Mellis, whose The Spokes I admire very much), and I immediately went online looking for copies of his books, purchasing three: Jack the Modernist, Elements of a Coffee Service, and this one, which I picked up for just a dollar.

Life being what it is, I did not read even one of them.

Then, last month, I saw an ad for what I took to be the NY
Lou Last
Jun 27, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novel

Jesus discarded her dumb love and abandoned her. From there, Margery might have advanced to real faith - a vocation begun in tears, cracked open as she was, left for dead as she was. I don't know what that faith would be. Margery did not accept this emptiness; instead, she dilated on the point of rejection.

Dec 09, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2007
I found this in a used bookstore last week, and I was unfamiliar with Robert Gluck but intrigued by the story of Margery Kempe, whose autobiography was required reading in one of my college history courses. This book's premise sounded interesting--Margery Kempe's obsessive relationship with Jesus paired with Gluck's obsessive relationship, five centuries later, with a man he refers to as "L."--but I didn't expect to respond quite so strongly to it, or to come away so struck by Gluck's words. The ...more
Lars Meijer
'Jesus gritted his teeth like L. does during orgasm, desiring sensation but unwilling to be moved by it.'

Margery Kempe is de rare liefdesbaby van Him en Her.
Mar 22, 2020 added it
Cannot finish. As usual, most of the negative reviews are negative for the wrong reasons. The usual pearl clutchers who, in waiting for an occasion to wield their self-righteousness, miss the purpose, and see an enemy where they should see a friend. Everyone is confused. Minds are as closed to Other as ever, even when they profess to celebrate openness and despise those minds shipwrecked in the past. Misunderstandings are in vogue.

There are some wonderful sentences and observations, but the whol
Mar 26, 2020 rated it liked it
Margery Kempe is a 15th century "Christian mystic," who wrote of her conversations with Jesus Christ. In Glück's version Kempe is a free-sex loving woman who even tries anal with Jesus (Pray tell me I read that right). The graphic descriptions of sex acts with Jesus - no less - still seem to bristle the conservative media and its talking heads. The narrative shifts between Kempe's dalliances with Jesus and with that of a narrator with a young man. The experimental narrative is a bit of a hindran ...more
Chris Schaeffer
Dec 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This is my favorite Gluck book, because it does so much not only with queer theory but medieval somatics, so it's basically like a stuffed crust pizza for my academic interests. His reading of Kempe is astonishing, earthy and numinous at once, I just love it so much. When Foucault waxes cuckoo over Gluck, I hope its this book he's talking about. ...more
Jul 25, 2011 added it
2005...Read for school. I had to read this book for one of my classes after reading ""The Book of Margery Kempe"". How do I best describe this? Well, the author tells the story of Margery and Jesus' love affair, while at the same time, telling the story of modern gay lovers. Besides the graphic sex, I felt like the modern love story was a bit undeveloped. Definitely an odd book. ...more
Liz Latty
Jan 15, 2008 rated it it was amazing
this book changed the way i read and write.
Margaret Shear
Jul 17, 2012 rated it liked it
Bizarro stuff, but very interesting read.
Robert McCaffrey
Jan 27, 2021 rated it it was ok
Engaging and intriguing at first, but ultimately repetitious and boring. The story of the author’s love for L. seemed an unnecessary intrusion on the tale of Margery Kempe, and Gluck seems to have forced this short novel to conform to his own New Narrative genre. By 1994, the year Gluck’s Margery Kempe was published, wasn’t it already a given that all fiction is somehow autobiographical without the necessity of being so literal about it?

These aren’t really parallel tales, and the story of Bob an
Dec 14, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Beautiful writing, including the best single sentence description of unrequited love I've ever read (and of course now can't find)... the subject matter can be a bit risque, since the Catholic school student buried deep in my psyche felt decidedly uncomfortable at all the talk about Jesus's cock, but a really interesting conflation of genre, narrative, fact, fiction, sexuality, religion... I really wish I had read Margery's autobiography, so I could see how much of this is her words redone. (For ...more
Brenna Terry
Aug 01, 2020 rated it did not like it
I wouldn't consider myself a pearl-clutcher, but I could not finish this one. Page after page of explicit, graphic sexual and scatalogical acts. Sex, sex, sex, poop, sex, sex, pee, sex, sex, and- did I mention?- sex. The writing overall is juvenile, as if it had been written by a frustrated fifteen-year-old boy. I'm not religious, but the depiction of Jesus made me deeply uncomfortable. The amount of ick actually made for a good laugh when I showed a few of the more graphic excerpts to some frie ...more
Filipe Almeida
Rather confusing mixture of historical fiction, biography and religious ecstasy. The book mingles and binds Margery Kempe's fifteenth century mystical visions of Christ experiences with the authors homosexual love story with a mysterious youth called L in the late twentieth century. Its not always clear in which one of the narratives you find yourself while reading. Sexual, sensual and bodily fluids abound during physical experiences of love and religious experiences near to delirium. A weird ta ...more
Sep 26, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I can't believe I came away from this book with a bewildered, but impressed fascination with the idea of Jesus as a withholding lover. I CAN believe I came away from this book further exhausted at the "plight" of gay men dating much younger gay men to try and claw back their youth. He's 20 and wants to move to San Francisco and fuck other younger dudes instead of stay in bed and talk about your mortality? Wow, time to be blind-sided into a self-flagellating mediation on life! Anyway I wish I had ...more
Morgan M. Page
Sep 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
"A failed saint turns to autobiography. Love amazes me; I exult in my luck, in our sex; L. exasperates me; I am exasperating; I am abandoned." Margery Kempe is horny for God and Robert Glück turns the object of his sexual obsession into a God of his own. Across centuries they yearn for their capricious lovers, a longing to attain the transformative power of love - a power that no plague can stop. Glück is the New Narrative daddy for a reason. ...more
Todd Cain
Interesting writing experiment. Extremely intellectual, extremely sexually and viscerally graphic. Some interesting phrase and images that I appreciated. A book that is not for everyone, for certain. It was a bit like reading a 160-page free verse poem. Which sounds great until you are on p. 20, and you realize you still have 140 pages of this to get through.
Dec 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
Sexy and winding, the life of Margery Kempe and Gluck overlap through desire for love and other people to love them. Extremely hard to put down, and at times, hard to not want to read over and over again.
Không biết số mình xui hay sao mà vừa đụng độ với I Love Dick xong thì gặp phải quả đắng này. Có khả năng mình sẽ đọc lại nhưng chắc là để dành cho kiếp sau.
jessica cave
Oct 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
<3 <3
Sarah Cummins
Feb 25, 2021 rated it really liked it
You guys are lame as hell for giving this one star
Oct 09, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: lgbt
The first time I read this, my first impression was, “I definitely should reread this again, more critically.” Doing that now, my overall second impression is, I like it. I don’t think the conceit works, but I like it nonetheless.

It’s fundamentally a Passion play. The line from ‘The Garden of Prayer’ which opens the novel is the key to understanding it. Glück fits his relationship with, adoration for, and obsession with his lover onto the autobiography of Margery Kempe, a 15-century Christian my
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Born in Cleveland, poet, fiction writer, editor, and New Narrative theorist Robert Glück grew up there and in Los Angeles. He was educated at the University of California, Los Angeles, the University of Edinburgh, the College of Art in Edinburgh, and the University of California, Berkeley, where he earned a BA. He also studied writing in New York City workshops with poet Ted Berrigan and earned an ...more

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According to some historians, the month of April is actually named after Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love, by way of the Romans....
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“A horse was hag-ridden. Its owners filled a bottle with its urine, stopped it with a cork, and buried it: the witch could not piece and died in agony. The air hummed with flies when the travellers approached the cattle - rich odors of dung and hay. They heard an ouzel's ringing tew tew tew; the peasants cupped their ears. Farmers tilled their small fields to the limit. Women carded and combed, clouted and washed, and peeled rushes as in Lynn. One woman became a man when he jumped over an irrigation ditch and his cunt dropped inside out: gender is the extent we go to in order to be loved. His mittens were made of rags.” 1 likes
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