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Chris Kraus: 'I Love Dick happened in real life, but it's not a memoir'
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But typing can be used to interesting literary effect. Arguably a highly self-conscious, painstakingly written experimental novel, the book reads like straight spillage, as if Kraus were simply telling her story and sharing her ideas with her husband, her friends, her analyst, anyone who will listen. She comes off as a major piece of work. The premise is crazy: Kraus met Hebdige with her husband, instantly fell in love with him, never even screwed him, and then doggedly pursued him, after a fashion. She and Sylvere wrote Dick many letters, most of which went unsent. The whole thing reeks of a setup: Kraus willed or pretended to will herself into this state of amour fou just so she would have the requisite raw materials for her writing experiment.
T he novel I Love Dick was initially published in to a critically and commercially cold reception. Institutionalised misogyny makes us a little bit slow on the uptake, especially when it comes to art. This book was brazenly, unapologetically about being a woman. After its publisher, Semiotext e , moved its distribution to MIT Press and a new edition was published in , I Love Dick sold around 1, copies a year until , when the zeitgeist began to catch up with it.
I heard about it once on a bus in Philadelphia; I still remember the gray city rolling by. Then I read it. The other message: Kraus has a sense of humor. At this point, reading Kraus feels like joining the ranks of those who have already come to love or hate her—those who worship her, idealize her, argue with her; those who wish she would stop talking so much about her sex life. Dick is actually a cultural critic! Kraus keeps writing to Dick, keeps calling Dick, even makes her husband a collaborator in her pursuit of Dick, and all the while keeps getting rebuffed by him. Sometimes, her story is narrated in the first-person; other times, in the third. Sometimes, her husband is named Sylvere Lotringer the theorist to whom Kraus was once married, and with whom she co-runs Semiotext e , the press that releases all her books ; other times, the husband is named Jerome or Michele. Their little dachshund is always Lily. Her books return to the same dynamics over and over—romantic abjection, ambiguous and often frustrating intimacies, artistic devotion and ambition, social communion and alienation—in order to explore them in multiple and overlapping contexts: artistic, spiritual, domestic, private, public, historical, political, economic.