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I Love Dick: The cult feminist novel, now an Amazon Prime Video series starring Kevin Bacon Hardcover – 1853
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About the Author
Chris Kraus is the author of the novels Aliens and Anorexia, I Love Dick, Torpor, and Summer of Hate as well as Video Green: Los Angeles Art and the Triumph of Nothingness and Where Art Belongs, all published by Semiotext(e). A Professor of Writing at the European Graduate School, she writes for various magazines and lives in Los Angeles. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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This is a book for literary intellectuals and I was interested enough to buy it, but I'm not qualified to truly evaluate it. I am a reasonably intelligent person, but this was not my cup of tea
This book, contrary to its light hearted title, is not for everyone. You have to be pretty well read in philosophy, semiotics, literary and cultural criticism because it's a brilliant send up, parody, satire, metacriticism, mashup of those disciplines. I don't think anyone can enjoy this novel as just a surface story.
The book also expounds on the nature of female love, female abjection, the tendency to obsess over unavailable men, debase ourselves. How so many women are "plus-ones", the helpmate to a successful, older, richer man. This is the way of the world, and very, very few women could say they freed themselves from fetters of patriarchy. Even today, in 2016. Look at your feminist artsy classmates from the 1990s - how many of them made it on their own? How many have married men who make a lot of money, or have trust funds?
I simply love how this narrator self-deprecates: her films make no money but she successfully manages her professor husband's real estate investments in order to fund her art. No righteousness whatsoever. It is a great story about female self-abasement.
Finally, the author through this novel critiques the way so many people assume a female narrator rants about failed heterosexual relationships is writing autobiography, memoir, or a bitchfest. Those same people would not say Philip Roth is writing memoir, rather, they assume it is art. The Amazon reviewers here certainly are not getting it either - this is fiction, and like the best fiction, it melds philosophy, economics, poetics, and entertainment in one place and time.
This evolves into series of digressions on feminism, as Krause attempts to find a universal meaning in her abjectly personal tale of frustrated ambition and spousal jealousy. (When she fails to find this broader significance, she blames the patriarchy.) She tries hard to insert herself (ha!) into a new canon of lesser-known feminist artists and activists, a move that would probably offend her idols if any of them were still alive. She also invents, and then plays, a game of "hide your inferiority complex" by referencing the Ramones THREE SEPARATE TIMES and at one point reading them with help from Soren Kierkegaard. Obviously, she's no more of a punk than Dick is a cowboy, or her husband is a libertine, but hey -- being an academic means never having to say you're phony. She also cites Emmanuel Levinas and Gustave Flaubert, name-drops Antonio Negri, and says absolutely nothing about Derrida or Foucault, probably because she thinks they're old hat.
In addition to her self-aggrandizing feminism, Krause indulges in a long and deeply offensive passage on schizophrenia, a condition she pretends to understand because she has dropped acid, read Deleuze, and condescended to befriend various crazy people for short periods of time. Basically, like everyone who has read Deleuze, she thinks she IS schizophrenic, except for the whole having-to-be-institutionalized-and-scaring-your-family-and-taking-daily-lifesaving-medication thing.
Ironically, when it comes to something she HAS done and CAN speak about with authority -- namely, having worked as a topless dancer -- Krause has almost nothing to say, except for the predictable claim that all women are (in some figurative sense) forced to work as topless dancers. Like the rest of her Big Moments, this is a claim that is probably precisely as true, or as untrue, as you want it to be.
After the book (sort-of) ends with an exasperated "cease and desist" letter from Dick Hebdige, there's an afterword by some friendly academic (Joan Hawkins). This critic attempts to prove that Krause is as textually slippery, schizophrenic, and polysemic as her idols in literature and theory, an attempt that resembles holding your kid's drawing up to a Frida Kahlo painting and finding endless points of similarity. Then Krause is re-cast in her favorite role, that of the marginal woman, when Hawkins accuses Hebdige and her husband of being "homosocially" attracted to one another (which they probably are). There is something depressingly glib and homophobic about Hawkins's assumption that -- in the midst of Krause's flight from her marriage into obsession and solipsistic fantasy -- any other gleams of desire represent something oppressive and unfair.
This reviewer would like to thank the following people: Dick Hebdige, Emmanuel Levinas, Simone Weil, Hannah Wilke, Hardt and Negri, Antonin Artaud, Gilles Deleuze, Felix Guattari, The Ramones, The Violent Femmes, Gustave Flaubert, Katherine Mansfield, and Virginia Woolf. All of them helped make this book readable. They are all infinitely more readable than it is.