‘It was written in the third person, the person most girls use when they want to talk about themselves but don’t think anyone will listen’.
These are the words of Chris Kraus, whose cult-novel I Love Dick is a work of art that should be read by everyone. It’s a novel I’m ashamed to say sat dusty on my bookshelf for years, something I always meant to read but never got round to. Finally picking it up over Christmas, I discovered Kraus’s honest yet delicate writing, blending fiction and memoir to create one of the most important feminist texts ever.
The premise is simple: the protagonist, also named Chris Kraus, is in a sexless marriage to French literary critic Sylvère Lotringer. After going to dinner with Sylvère’s friend Dick, Chris realises she has become irrevocably attracted to Dick, likening their mental connection to a ‘conceptual fuck’. What follows is a weirdly intense project in which Dick becomes the subject of Chris and Sylvère’s art. Writing Dick letters neither of them dare to send, the novel becomes entwined in a narrative encompassing art, feminism and, most importantly, the male gaze.
I Love Dick is not just a book, but art that has been widely underrated for too long.
Dismissed as ‘gossipy’ upon its first publication, I Love Dick is not just a book, but art that has been widely underrated for too long. Kraus’s raw writing pushes the notions of femininity to boundaries never seen before. Constantly beautiful, constantly heart-breaking, yet always so undeniably real, Kraus’s prose is relentless. At points, you find yourself immersed in a narrative you barely understand, yet one you can’t help being in awe of. The main thread of the story, Kraus’s extraordinary infatuation with Dick, or rather the projection of Dick she has built up in her mind, is never lost. It is a plot that has never been more relevant in today’s world.
You finish I Love Dick wanting to re-read it all over again. It spits you out and leaves you with a renewed female consciousness. So, if you haven’t, go to a bookshop, pick up I Love Dick, and don’t be too embarrassed about reading it in public.