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Acker, Kathy

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Author, Theatre.

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Pseudonym of US author Karen Lehmann (1947-1997), whose year of birth has been given variously but without documentary evidence as both 1944 and 1948; she lived in the UK off and on for many years. Acker's apocalyptic sense of the latter-day world is conveyed in works whose tortured absurdity (see Fabulation) sometimes catches the reader by surprise, or transfixes the spectator of one of her plays, which have been as a whole perhaps more telling than her prose. The Birth of the Poet (performed 1984 Rotterdam; in Wordplays 5, anth 1986, ed anon) runs a gamut from the nuclear Holocaust depicted in the first act to the picaresque jigs and jags of the second and third. Three novels – Don Quixote: Which Was a Dream (1986), a surrealistic afterlife fantasy; Empire of the Senseless (1988), which features a quest through a Near Future Paris-cum-America surreally evocative of Mark Twain's Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884), and the not-quite terminal coupling of fleshly beings and Robots; and Pussy, King of the Pirates (1996), an erotized Dystopian adventure with echoes of Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island (1883) – are of interest. Her use of sf icons and decor in this last book resembles that of William S Burroughs, especially in its homage to Cyberpunk, conveyed by cut-ups of text by William Gibson. [JC]

Karen Lehmann

born New York: 14 April 1947 [1944 and 1948 have also been given but seem unlikely]

died Tijuana, Mexico: 30 November 1997


about the author


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