The Memoirs of JonBenet by Kathy Acker by Michael du Plessis 0 Comments

The Memoirs of JonBenet by Kathy Acker by Michael du Plessis

Michael du Plessis’s The Memoirs of JonBenet by Kathy Acker is a fresh offering from Les Figues Press, released as part of their 2012 TrenchArt Surplus Series. While weighing in at a slender ninety-eight pages, Plessis’s novella is a challenging read, nonlinear and densely packed with cultural allusions. The title itself, which refers to murdered child beauty queen JonBenét Ramsey and pro-sex feminist Kathy Acker, is indicative of the novella’s grounding in both low and high culture.

Memoirs is typical of conceptual fiction in its defiance of realist notions of time, space, and character. Identity is protean. JonBenet and Kathy Acker rise from the dead to coexist and merge together in the Middle American toytown of Boulder, Colorado. There are cameos from figures as diverse as H.P. Lovecraft, Victor Frankenstein, and O from The Story of O, all of whom find themselves trapped in the claustrophobic world of Boulder, CO, which is characterized by beige carpeting, SUVs, and Plexiglas skies.

It is easy to read Memoirs, with its references to Bratz dolls, school shootings, ecstasy, and anime, as a critique of late capitalist culture. At the same time, Memoirs revels in the unreality of its characters and their surroundings as, in the words of JonBenet, ‘only what can die is real.’

The book itself is tall, slender, and minimalistic in design – a delight to read and to handle with its soft cover and clear typesetting. Though Memoirs may not be to everyone’s taste, I would recommend it (and Les Figues Press more generally) to anyone on the lookout for new experimental or conceptual fiction.

By Laura Woollett

Laura is a writer and member of the Voiceworks editorial committee. She recently completed honours in creative writing at the University of Melbourne

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