Shock Treatment

Karen Finley, Author City Lights Books $8.95 (144p) ISBN 978-0-87286-252-4
Finley's performance art--for which she has recently become notorious--is intentionally discomfitting. The texts in Shock Treatment , some of which figure in her performances but the majority of which are recent writings, are coextensive with the reach of her live act, sharing the goal, indeed, of shocking. However, readers may find the effects here too shrill to be persuasive: ``I know you want to experience the inspiration of the artist. So I take your Yuppie body and drag it down Avenue B and let your tongue roll along the street licking up the shit and piss, the sweat and blood of me, and you know what? You like it. You like it.''p. 8 In the most scathing of terms, consumerism, sexism, homophobia, racism and societal violence are pilloried and personified. Finley's calculated histrionics admit no forgiveness. In the name of personal freedom, judgments are harshly rendered and executed with zeal. There is little warmth here, but cold compassion for the undefended; the crude drawings by the author serve to sharpen the book's astringency. As its title suggests, this book is not meant to offer readers a pleasant experience. Nonetheless, it is a document that boldly crosses the border between the political and the profane at a time when that region is in hot dispute. It should not go unread by those involved. (Nov . )
Reviewed on: 01/01/1990
Release date: 01/01/2001
Paperback - 168 pages - 978-0-87286-691-1
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