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Blood and Guts in High School

3.46  ·  Rating details ·  5,066 ratings  ·  537 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
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Greg Suzy, if you're looking for women (I know, we need to get away from this type of identificattion) authors, I can't name any, I just don't know. There …moreSuzy, if you're looking for women (I know, we need to get away from this type of identificattion) authors, I can't name any, I just don't know. There is Burroughs, though. Maybe Pynchon or Palahniuk for Acker-lite. (less)
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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
Oct 29, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2019
You know those two assholes who break up at every party? Like, get four beers into them and they are definitely going to have a big tearful thing in the kitchen and he’s going to lurk creepily in the driveway chainsmoking for the rest of the night and she’s going to lock herself in the bathroom and you’re going to have to try to talk her down just so you can get in there to pee. By the end of the party they’ll be slobbering all over each other again and eventually they’ll fuck on your parents be ...more
Mar 14, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2019
Sensational and cynical, Blood and Guts in High School aspires to unsettle. In fast-moving, terse prose, full of lurid images, Acker dramatizes the many trials faced by the novel’s protagonist Janey after her boyfriend/father abandons her for another woman. The author rebels against linear narrative and coherent characterization at every turn, whether she’s describing her heroine’s imprisonment by a Persian slave trader or following her tumultuous romance with a cartoonish version of Jean Genet. ...more
Sep 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I knew I would love this one. It was written in the stars and I could have shelved it as a fave without even reading it.

'Reading' is an inadequate word though: in fact I am utterly unable to think of it as a mere reading experience. Acker's book is indeed a challenge to any attempt to define what a novel is supposed to be, a challenge that sucked me in, deeper and deeper and then higher and higher, from the very first page.
Text, illustration, mixed fonts, pages written in the author's weird han
Jun 22, 2012 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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,
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
Steven Godin
Jun 23, 2022 rated it really liked it
I don't think I've ever read anything quite like this before. This is some gloriously fucked-up shit. Had Sid Vicious & Nancy Spungen ever been parents - now there's a scary thought - I'd imagine them reading this to their kids as a bedtime story, ha! ...more
Barry Pierce
if Breakfast of Champions were Kurt Cobain, Blood and Guts in High School is Courtney Love.
Nov 30, 2007 rated it really liked it
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
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
MJ Nicholls
May 14, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: merkins, distaff, poems, novels
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
Anthony Vacca
Dec 30, 2014 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
Oct 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
One hard to forget cover. Some enviable title. Up there with "Prozac (too-early-in-my-life-it-was-too-late) Nation" & "Girl, Interrupted" And in the same genre. But whereas those aforementioned two were in reality self-serving bitchathons (and we must not forget which of the three were converted into feature films). "Blood & Guts" is not. Its the very sense of the word intrepid.

1990s director Gregg Araki should have made the celluloid equivalent. What a pastiche of terrible teenage dreaddom! Not
Apr 19, 2013 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,
Jul 14, 2007 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. ...more
Nathan "N.R." Gaddis
"Compendiously Nipping Pastiche. Clearseeing."


...but for me this was evidence that some people believe feminism trumps good writing.

This book is the Emperors new clothes. [sic!]

sucky post-modernist writing.

But it's really perverted and I felt a little violated reading it. Incest, rape, domestic violence, etc. etc.

well, i'm going to give it to you anyway.

We've been punked, folks.

This was one of the most off-putting and obnoxious pieces of literature I've faced recently.

Oct 21, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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.

Dec 10, 2008 rated it did not like it
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
Blake Nelson
Jul 30, 2012 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. ...more
Roman Clodia
Aug 15, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Originally written in the 1970s, this Penguin re-release coincides with Acker's untimely death from cancer 20 years ago this year. Ever the enfant terrible, this is deliberately designed to provoke and shock - and that it still can in 2017 would, I think, have amused Acker vastly.

She throws everything into this dislocated narrative: sex, violence, disease, exploitation, corruption, abuse, incest, feminism, capitalism, anger, submission, identity, the grotesque body... with nods along the way to
Sep 26, 2017 added it
Shelves: 20th-century
This is an amazing book, hyperbolic, mad, outrageous, cynical, expressive, and audacious. Acker has portrayed an odd and often grotesque intersection of nightmare and fantasy in which the worst nightmare often is the realization of fantasy. At the same time she gives very real insight into the mind of a person whose character and vision have been shaped by a life of abuse and exploitation. She doesn't mind being crude and inelegant, and she happily presents a disjointed and often surreal narrati ...more
Jennifer Barbee
Sep 18, 2009 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
Ebony Earwig
Apr 17, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I read a short story by Kathy Acker ages ago which was about her process and how she uses plagariasm... so basically she'll take other people's writing and then reconfigure them into her own shapes. The thing is that from reading this I would never have guessed that's what she's done. She makes it breathe in such an authentic way... in fact it feels like it can't be anything BUT authentic. So what an amazing artist she is. ...more
Jun 04, 2009 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
Plagued by Visions
A brutal parable of American pain and abuse, highly irreverent, grossly comical, and more often than not, incomprehensible, but in the spirit of honesty. Sex specifically is treated here as repulsion, dread, and chaos, but our main character never succumbs to being a sex object, rather an object that ballistically dabbles in sex. I’m conflicted, but I’m also intrigued and arrested by this book, so that’s pretty good!
Laura Brower
Apr 10, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: weird-fiction, poetic
My God not many books have made me feel this sad and depressed to the point where I had to keep stopping and giving myself a hug. Not many books have done this whilst at the same time making me laugh. I took far too long to sit down and read this. How to summarise what it's about? Well, it's initially about Janey and her toxic relationships various men, the way that sex impacts on her psyche, the way that she's lost and trying to find herself but there's nothing to be found because so much of he ...more
Jan 07, 2015 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
Maggie Siebert
Jan 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
the jimmy carter love affair was unbearably funny, though i could say that about every other part too.
Feb 10, 2008 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
Having any sex in the world is having to have sex with capitalism. What can Janey and Genet do?
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Reading 1001: Blood and Guts in High School by Kathy Acker 3 22 Sep 17, 2021 12:21AM  
Kathy Acker 1 5 Jul 26, 2019 03:39PM  
Rough intro 1 3 Apr 22, 2019 08:40PM  
Goodreads Librari...: Combine this edition 2 13 Feb 21, 2019 10:46AM  

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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

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