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My Mother: Demonology


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``Memories do not obey the law of linear time,'' reads one of the many aphorisms in this novel, and it seems a key point of departure for Acker's unconventional exploration of memory and its manifestations in dreams. Here, a woman tries to come to terms with her vulnerability and with the excess mental baggage conferred by time. But that simple narrative is just one of the many important levels in the work, which also contains vast psychological wallpaper. Visceral, unflinching, wildly experimental with shifting contexts and settings, this is written in the ``punk'' style for which Acker ( In Memoriam to Identity , LJ 7/90) is well known. Forget categories, though. Her formidably talented hand gives the cacophonous materials compelling poetic rhythm and balance. Recommended for most collections.-- Brian Geary, West Seneca, N.Y.

Acker's ( Blood and Guts in High School ) 10th novel continues her well-established tradition of nontraditional prose: she borrows from both absurdism and metafiction, yet the final product is her own--a haunting and sometimes amusing fictional event. In a voice at once disturbing and wryly humorous, her narrator, Laure, recounts both dreams and real events to subtly weave together a dark autobiography. Laure's journey from the emotional and sexual abuses of childhood to the confusion of a girls' boarding school is fraught with psychological tortures, both created by and imposed upon her. Her attempt to overcome her parents' cruelty, her fetishization of various friends and lovers, and her eventual transformation into a weathered, motorcycle-riding bohemian are all told in vivid if surreal detail. Acker infuses often shocking social and political commentary that never detracts from her voice--everyone from the Marquis de Sade to H. Ross Perot fits right into the stew. Yet the book may leave some readers cold. Acker's constant graphic references to bodily functions and violent sexual acts are part of the experimental voice, but readers may feel as if the experiment--and the joke, as well--is on them. Despite inspired writing and astute observations, the novel ultimately fails to make us care. What emerges is a hallucinatory amalgam of emotion and desire, held together by a series of abstract events. (Aug.)

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