9 May 2017

Chris Kraus on I Love Dick and feminism's fourth wave

From Jesse Mulligan, 1–4pm, 1:29 pm on 9 May 2017

Chris Kraus's 1997 book I Love Dick is a semi fictional memoir which explores her obsession with an English critic called Dick. The book has now been made into a television series starring Kevin Bacon.

Author, Chris Kraus

Author, Chris Kraus Photo: Supplied/Reynaldo Rivera

The US author is in New Zealand this month for the Auckland Writer’s Festival, where she will talk about thesemi-fictionalfictional memoir exploring her obsession with an English critic called Dick.

Kraus, who spent much of her childhood in New Zealand, says she is looking forward to visiting again.

Speaking with Jesse Mulligan, she says she didn’t think to change the names of the New Zealanders she references in I Love Dick, as she didn’t believe it would ever be read here.

“But it did, and on one of my trips back I made a little tour around apologising to various people whose real names I’d kept in the book and not changed, and they were very gracious about it.”

She says people often say I Love Dick is a very personal book, but she never saw it that way.

“I was writing it as a comedy and the things that happen to these people in the book are so universal, I mean, who hasn’t had a crush?”

Kraus has written several other books including Aliens and Anorexia, and the recently re-released Torpor.

When she started writing I Love Dick, Kraus says she realised there was a lot she wanted to talk about.

“It was too much for one book and I knew there would be three.”

While Kraus says she’s always considered herself to be a feminist, she believes I Love Dick has been read differently in the past decade than it was originally.

“I guess it’s a fourth wave feminist moment that kind of erupted in the US and other places in the mid ‘00s when a lot of really gifted women were keeping blogs… and lots of people saw them and a number of people wrote about the book.

“It just moved very quickly online and into a larger world.”

I Love Dick sold in the several hundreds a year before it really took off 15 years after it was first published, but Kraus says her reward in writing the book was achieved years ago.

“All I hoped for was that writers that I admired would read the book and take me seriously as a writer.”

Chris Kraus will be appearing at the Auckland Writers Festival, which starts next week, and is also speaking at the City Gallery in Wellington on 22 May tickets available here.

Get the new RNZ app

for easy access to all your favourite programmes

Subscribe to Jesse Mulligan, 1–4pm

Podcast (MP3) Oggcast (Vorbis)