I Love Dick
By Chris Kraus
If you’re looking to get the hairy eyeball from strangers on the subway, there’s no book I’d recommend more highly than
I Love Dick
by Chris Kraus. Also, there’s no book I’d recommend more highly, period, especially if you took a lot of literary theory classes in college that intrigued and annoyed you in equal measure.
At the outset of this “autobiographical novel,” Kraus is a semi-failed filmmaker married to a famous French academic. On a visit to L.A., the couple spends the night at the home of critic Dick Hebdige, during which Kraus develops a random but passionate—and apparently unreciprocated—crush. The next section of the book is a series of letters that Kraus and her husband sent (and didn’t send) to Dick detailing the crush and its implications for art and heterosexuality and feminism and Kraus’ career and their marriage. This probably sounds unbearably pretentious and, for a moment, it is; in the next moment, though, Kraus shifts to the third person to describe how she left her husband. And in the second section of the book, narrated in the first person by Kraus, the real fun begins. She forces a confrontation and a sexual encounter with Hebdige. She describes her romantic history and the place of women in the downtown NYC art scene of the '80s and '90s. She asks and, more importantly, answers the question, “Can a crush be art?”