Kathy goes to Haiti. And takes us too.

So I just finished reading Kathy Goes to Haiti by Kathy Acker.  This is the real, true-to-life, 100% veridical story of Kathy Acker going to Haiti.  Just kidding.  Of course, this is no simple memoir to be trumpeted from the treeless mountaintops of Haiti as the truth of Kathy Acker's experience.  Rather Kathy gives us her own strange, strange image of the journey of a woman named Kathy from Port-au-Prince to Cap Haitien and back.  Along the way she is bothered non-stop by men who just want to sleep with her.  These encounters on the street, in cabs, on beaches, in hotels, bars and restaurants begin with a sexual proposition, then a quick refusal by Kathy, next insistence and usually ends in Kathy's agreement to play.  Bizarre interactions are the norm.  The book often seems to be like a Dick and Jane reader rewritten as a bizarre voyage of sex, colonial highjinks and drugs.  The prose is deceptively simple, lulling the reader into a kind of happy acceptance of the truth of it.  The reader follows Kathy step by step along her journey in Haiti from her arrival at the airport to the Cap and back to the capital.  This simple prose is fun fun fun to read in that it demands no special attention from the reader.  I haven't read all that much Kathy Acker: I started with a Best Of anthology and then went out and bought this book (which comes as a three novel set, so now I will read the other novels as well.)  What would Acker do with a character with her own name voyaging in the poorest country in the Western hemisphere?  Besides for several brief, eerie moments when the novel switches into a kind of psychotic first person, the narrator uses the third person practically the entire time.  Kathy does, Kathy sucks, she wants, she sees, she fucks, she is ready to leave.  In fact, the monotony of the sentence structure is profoundly unsettling after a while.  Kathy's reactions to situations and her interlocutors reactions continually lack emotional umph; it is as if everyone got very high and then walked around, hot and sweating and horny in the Haitian sun.  Kathy gets angry when she faces the privileges of the Haitian upper classes, but beyond talking about it being wrong, she does absolutely nothing about it.  Oh, and she has long, masochistic sexual encounters with a rich, drug-dealing Haitian guy.  The book is full of stereotypes of the worst kind, from the beginning to the end and these walking, talking stereotypes leave the reader wondering what exactly to think.  What becomes clear is that despite Kathy (the character obviously) thinking she is superior and removed from what is going on, the plotline and her own emotional dependency and fucked-up-edness exposes her involvement in the worst of the world's worst.  

Graphic taken from The Butane Group website.  They did a performance-theater piece that partially used Acker's novel as inspiration: Haiti (live and let die).

1 comentario:

Anónimo dijo...

I think Hosam is writing about this book. I've always wanted to read it.

Funny, the randomly generated password thing in the comment box, "vatho," happens to mean "talk" in Gujarati.