18 June, 2015

I love Dick by Chris Kraus

It feels like I must be the last person in New Zealand to read I love Dick, artist Chris Kraus’ genre-bending memoir/novel/theoretical text/love letter.*

The book was first published in 1997, but has recently experienced one of those unexpected renaissances that really good books sometimes do (see also: 2013’s revival of the beautifully bleak John William’s novel, Stoner).

Born in New Zealand but spending much of her career in Los Angeles, Kraus’ writing contains marks of her previous film and performance art work, blending critical theory, fact, fiction and poetry.

I love Dick chronicles Kraus’ infatuation with the titular Dick (real life counterpart: media theorist and sociologist Dick Hebdige) after Chris and her husband, academic Sylvère Lotringer, spend a boozy night at Dick’s country abode.

Chris’ letters to Dick, which begin as an almost-joke and finish as something else entirely, form the bulk of the novel, chronicling Chris’s obsession with Dick and uncertainties about her own life.

Poet Eileen Myles puts it best when she writes that in I love Dick “Chris' ultimate achievement is philosophical. She's turned female abjection inside out and aimed it at a man… I love Dick boldly suggests that Chris Kraus' unswervingly attempted and felt female life is a total work and it didn't kill her.”

Read this book as soon as you can, and as an added bonus, enjoy the scandalised looks people on your commute will give you when they catch a glimpse of the cover.

Kraus’ other books (Aliens and Anorexia and Summer of Hate) are also available in the Auckland Libraries catalogue. 

*I’m not though - Lorde Instagrammed a picture of a copy gifted to her by Lena Dunham just a few weeks ago. I win this round, Lorde (although you still have better hair).

Title: I love Dick
Author: Chris Kraus

Reviewed by Hannah C, Mount Albert Library

Hannah C likes reading almost anything, but will never forgive Donna Tartt for The Goldfinch.

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