It’s difficult for me to write a review for “I love Dick” by Chris Kraus because it’s not a novel that I particularly loved or enjoyed but still it’s one that I admire and appreciate as a work of art. Although the book was not entirely my cup of tea, I’m grateful that I read it.
The novel tells the story of Chris Kraus, a 39 year old filmmaker, married to a much older French scholar and intellectual. It begins when the couple has dinner with her husband’s colleague Dick. Chris falls madly in love with him and both she and her husband begin to write letters to the subject of her affection.
For some the novel’s premise might suggest that they can expect a steamy ménage à trois or. This is not the case. The story takes place in an artsy, intellectual and academic milieu and that is reflected in the style and language of the novel. “I love Dick” is a complex and autofictional (not to be confused with autobiographical) piece of postmodern literature that discusses art, philosophy, gender relations, feminism and love.
I read this book together with my bookclub. We all study literary and cultural studies, sociology and linguistics. So we understood most of the references to theories, academia and literature which might turn other readers off. But even for us the book was a bit too theory-savvy.
It’s certainly not an easy read or a comfort book or one that caters to all tastes. It demands its readers attention (and also some stamina) but those who push through are rewarded with an interesting, difficult and complex story of an artist who liberates herself from society’s norms and finds her own artistic voice.
I didn’t enjoy reading it at first. None of the characters are particularly likeable, Chris and her husband are downright stalking Dick and Dick himself does everything to do his name justice. But the book got better after the first hundred pages and slowly started to grow on me. I really loved some of its beautiful lines and I enjoyed how Kraus merged different genres. While the book starts as an autofictional epistolary novel, it soon begins to incorporate other forms of writing like diary entries, cultural criticism, essays and analyses.
It’s not the kind of book that’s made to be enjoyed or liked. I for one didn’t enjoy reading it. But despite its complexity and unlikeability I can appreciate it as an interesting yet difficult example feminist literature.