Book Review: Kathy Acker's Empire of the Senseless / by Neal Auch

Kathy Acker's Empire of the Senseless is quite possibly the punkest book I have ever read.

It would be a fool's errand to try and summarize the plot of this novel, but it suffices to say that the stream of consciousness narrative involves a post apocalyptic wasteland, CIA conspiracies, drugs, a character who is "part robot, part black", and shit-loads of sex, violence, and sexual violence. There are some negative reviews of Acker's work online, mostly focusing on how her writing is rough around the edges. This, it seems to me, misses the point. This is a novel that is all rough edges; the novel is about rough edges. Just as some albums demand to be listened to on high volume to be properly appreciated, so this book demands to be read quickly and drunkenly at 3am.  Acker's writing seems to owe a lot to William S. Burroughs -- one of my favourite authors and someone who I'll have to write about in this space at a later date -- although she certainly has a unique voice and the novel never feels derivative.  Personally, I found it rather refreshing to see a female voice tackling this particular style of stream of consciousness writing that revels in the most sordid aspects of the human condition.