[New York]: [Various], [1979-1991]. Photocopy of typescript with one page original typescript bearing top-copy typed corrections and holograph number, that page taped to verso of letterhead. 60pp. printed on recto only, stapled at top right corner with neat tape reinforcement over staple on title page. Light wear to title page and final sheet, tail edge of two oversized sheets rubbed. Taped revision loose from browned tape mounts. Very good. With four published appearances featuring the story also provided. Item #22819
A pre-publication copy of Acker’s own corrected typescript for the story ‘New York City in 1979’, which went on to win the 1979 Pushcart Prize, making it her first critically acclaimed work. This document gives key insight not only into Acker’s writing methods, but also raises interesting questions about the intended structure of the finished story, and highlights the mutable interpretations regarding the published presentation of her prose writing, via four different versions included herein.
This copy was sent by Acker in late 1979 to friend and fellow experimental writer Paul Buck. The pages have clearly been xeroxed on several different machines with different paper stock and print qualities evident in different sections, and pp. 29 is an original typescript passage (with visible typed correctionz and numbered in holograph in Acker’s distinctive hand) which has been taped onto the verso of a sheet of letterhead for “Performing Artservices Inc., 463 West St NY," an organisation that provided management and administrative services to avant-garde artists.
Included with this document are four published editions of the story. The first, although not always credited thus, was in International Times vol. 5 no 5. (January/February 1980). Run as “New York City ’79” over the centerspread, this version is closest to the typescript form. There is persuasive indication that the editors of I.T. were working from a similar photocopy, and whether instructed thus by Acker or not, they took the cut-up style of the piece at face value and ran it as a series of fragments differentiated from one another by the use of typefaces, and with no cohesive order. Probably due to space constraints, this version is also heavily abridged, however the notable omissions of the three statements about lesbians suggests that there was also a degree of selective censorship at work here.
The first publication of the complete text followed in July 1980 in the pages of San Diego magazine Crawl Out Your Window (Issue 7). Here, the sentences — which run over multiple pages in the typescript — are conventionalised into standard lines. There are also slight textual differences with a couple of additional sentences added.
The first stand alone publication came in Top Stories 9 (1981) which incorporated photographs by Anne Turyn. These images again mutate the text and raise further questions about Acker’s editorial intention; the typescript title-page bears the uncompleted subheading “Photographs by”, but gives no further allusions to this content. The final example is the 1991 Semiotext(e) collection HANNIBAL LECTOR, MT FATHER, which shows still further textual edits.
In terms of form, the most marked difference between the typescript copy and the published editions that followed is the way in which the text is divided into a series of passages or episodes, numbered at the head of the page. These can be full paragraphs or single sentences, or, for example, the word “syphilis” which has an entire page to itself. This deliberate distribution of whitespace surrounding the single word (which in later editions is returned to the conventional layout of a sentence) adds nuance and valence to the story which is arguably altered in transcription.
In the key collection of Acker Papers at Duke University, there is a comparable copy described thus in their catalogue: “60-page photocopied typescript, corrected in the photocopy, with original note on the title page, My Copy, by Acker”. We have not been able to locate an original typescript, suggesting that this format with Acker’s holograph corrections in the copy is as primary a resource for this text as is currently known. A revealing archive, showing both Acker's working methods and intentions, while simultaneously demonstrating their editorial undoing across numerous editions.