Chris Kraus is the rare writer to capture both the literary imagination and the pop culture zeitgeist. When her 1998 novel, I Love Dick, was re-issued in 2006, it was embraced as a feminist classic by a new generation. Among her admirers were the creators of two of TV's most progressive and popular shows: Girls by Lena Dunham, and Transparent by Jill Soloway. I Love Dick’s confessional narrative consists of a series of unrequited love letters which play out as a celebration of personal and professional failure with unapologetic gusto. It seemed to give female readers in particular a gleeful permission to abandon the futile imperative to "have it all."
The culture encourages us always to personalize success and failure and it's a big lie.
Chris, a writing professor in ArtCenter’s Grad Art program, has always been driven to question norms and forge new creative frontiers in her work. After stints in New York’s experimental filmmaking communities she found her calling as a writer. In the 20 years since, she has been remarkably prolific, publishing three novels—Aliens and Anorexia, Torpor and Summer of Hate—as well as several collections of essays. Her most recent work, After Kathy Acker, a biography of the ‘90s New York art-world icon and experimental novelist, was released late last year.
In this episode’s lively and candid conversation, Chris discussed her background in experimental theater, her commitment to stripping artifice from her characters, and her ambivalence about the success of I Love Dick in the context of her lifelong exploration of the spiritual and creative value of failure.