Janey undergoes, as if in a fairytale, a nightmare journey of exploitation - first incest, then abortions, a job selling cookies to the chi-chi bourgois of Brooklyn, a one-sided love affair with the leader of punk gang THE SCORPIONS, and finally is sold into the white slave trade in the middle east. Along the way she grapples with the cultural message of The Scarlet Letter, falls in love with Jean Genet, and angrily ridicules Erica Jong - the famous rich white face of 1970s feminism.
Pulsating with the influence of William S. Burroughs, the narrative is a patchwork mish-mash of prose, poetry, drama, literary plagiarism and illustration - childlike sexual drawings pepper the book, along with Acker's surreal, minutely detailed, annotated 'dream maps'. Exploring feminism, punk, the idea of the "literary canon" and the United States of America, Blood and Guts in High School has lost none of its power to shock.
Acker is a postmodern Colette with echoes of Cleland's Fanny Hill
A coming-of-age story which examines incest and paedophilia with a profoundly Sadist literary bent ... can be credited with moving mainstream literature into indie territory.
Acker's work, more than that of any other writer I can think of, challenged the traditional lines of demarcation between poetry and novel, between high culture and popular trash and, perhaps most important of all, between literature and art world. In all these respects, her work signalled the tremors of a deep cultural shift...