Archive of seven letters from Kathy Acker to Rudolph Wurlitzer, 1976
N.p. N.p., 1976. Archive of six autograph letters signed and one typed letter signed from Kathy Acker to fellow experimental novelist Rudolph Wurlitzer, twenty five pages total, undated, but written during the first half of 1976 based on dates mentioned in the body of one of the letters. From the collection of Rudolph Wurlitzer, with provenance.
Acker and Wurlitzer were in a relationship, begun while they were both in New York, and continuing briefly after he left the city for Nova Scotia, where he was a the time of this correspondence. Two of the letters directly address their relationship, and correspond to letters written by Wurlitzer as quoted in Chris Kraus' 2017 biography of the late writer, "After Kathy Acker." The letters offered here were not available to Kraus, something she mentions when discussing the relationship with Wurlitzer, and have never been published or previously available for sale.
In addition to Acker's frank discussion of her feelings toward Wurlitzer, the letters take a broadly confessional tone, as Acker discusses her mental and emotional state, as well as her conflicted feelings regarding the writing she was doing at the time. She writes candidly about feelings of isolation, introversion, and exhaustion with life in New York and its attendant social obligations, presenting a version of Acker that is at odds with both her own self-mythologizing and her already established persona as a post-punk literary icon and chronicler of the downtown avant garde scene.
Acker is similarly candid regarding her own writing, mentioning both "The Adult Life of Toulouse-Lautrec" and "Florida" (both 1978) as in-progress, saying of the former "the hell with Toulouse I wanted to finish it off with hell [and] this is hell," and of the later that it "is about characters. Have to make characters grow." She goes into some detail regarding her feelings about "The Life of Johnny Rocco" section of "Toulouse," calling it "a horrible book," and noting that she's "scared of this book. Scared to type it up. Something very raw about me in it," but also noting that the "only good thing" about the book is that it was "the first time I created a real character who isn't me."
Finally, Acker speaks at length about the books and films she is consuming, in particular noting the influence of Japanese literature and cinema on her work, and often relating them to her own ambitions as a writer. She quotes a long passage from William Faulkner's "Go Down Moses" and compares her work unfavorably to it, briefly discusses Akira Kurosawa's "Seven Samurai," mentions reading Yukio Mishima, Osamu Dazai, and Yasunari Kawabata, and in one letter provides a lengthy synopsis of the plot of all three films in Hiroshi Inagaki's "Samurai Trilogy," before briefly relating the themes of the film to her relationship with Wurlitzer. Of the influence of Japanese literature, she notes her desire in her own writing for "simple paragraphs, each paragraph an image. 1, 2, 3. The flow absolutely like straight line...[like] those incredible Japanese novels I’ve been reading."
Autograph letters signed on 7 x 8.25 inch lined notebook paper. 23 pages, rectos only. Near Fine, with faint horizontal folds.
Typed letter signed on 8.5 x 11 paper. Two pages, rectos only. Near Fine, folded twice for mailing.
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