Kathy Acker was an American novelist born on April 18, 1947 in New York City. As a child, she felt restrained by societal expectations and gender norms; Ackner never fit into the typical mold of how a “lady” should act. In turn, she grew obsessed with reading about pirates as these fascinating characters allowed her to escape from her obedient and law-abiding lifestyle. The feelings of oppression she endured throughout her adolescence would inform her later works, which often dealt with defiance of authority and feminist theory.
After graduating high school, she attended Brandeis University to study classics but dropped out to enroll at the University of California, San Diego. She subsequently moved to New York where she worked various odd jobs, including a secretary, stripper, and porn actress. She published her first piece entitled Politics in 1972 and went on to release many more novels, one of which is Empire of the Senseless.
Empire of the Senseless tells the story of a pirate named Thivai and a robot named Abhor. They live in a disease-ridden and dilapidated Paris set in the near future. Acker’s novel follows their everyday life in this obscure story about what lies ahead for humankind. While the story itself is indicative of acclaimed works such as Clockwork Orange, the writing style Acker employs has been criticized as being monotonous. Publishers Weekly states that Acker’s “plotless stream-of-consciousness style and sexually explicit prose only dull [her] powerful message.”
After Empire of the Senseless, Kathy Acker went on to publish numerous other novels, including In Memoriam to Identity (1990), Hannibal Lecter, My Father (1991), and My Mother: Demonology (1994). However, a fight with breast cancer ended her life and career early. She died on November 30, 1997 while staying at a cancer clinic in Tijuana, Mexico.