11 August 2017
I Love Dick has taken the world of literature, and now television, by storm once again, twenty years after its initial publication in 1997, thanks to its wry, hilarious voice, radical dissection of what it means to operate as a man and a woman, honest and wry look at the art world, unforgettable one-liners, pioneering genre-bending… The list goes on.
No wonder reading groups are desperate to discuss it. We’ve put together ten questions which we hope will help get a fascinating discussion underway.
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I Love Dick by Chris Kraus: Reading group questions
1. Why does Chris start writing to Dick? Why does she keep writing to him?
2. How do you see Chris and Sylvere’s relationship change throughout the novel?
3. What is the role of the writers, artists and critics that Chris refers to throughout I Love Dick in our understanding of the events of the novel?
4. After her night with Dick, Chris quotes from Simone Weil’s Gravity & Grace: ‘It is impossible to forgive whoever has done us harm if that harm has lowered us. We have to think that it has not lowered us but revealed to us our true level.’ Can Chris forgive Dick?
5. Chris writes about the artist Hannah Wilke, the prejudices she is subjected to as a woman in the art world – and what she does to subvert them. How do you think I Love Dick responds to or challenges this?
6. Chris says, ‘Art, like God or The People, is fine for as long as you can believe in it.’ How does this system of belief manifest itself in the novel?
7. ‘There isn’t much I take seriously and since I’m frivolous and female most people think I’m pretty dumb. They don’t realize I’m a kike.’ How does Chris present the differences between her intellectual project on the one hand and Sylvère’s and Dick’s on the other?
8. What are the ramifications of the novel’s ending for the narrator’s project in I Love Dick?
9. I Love Dick has been called a ‘confessional’ novel. Chris Kraus has argued against this, saying ‘this writing was very physical, and I was terribly shocked when it was widely perceived at face value, as a cheap confession.’ Do you feel her writing is universal? Or ‘confessional’ – or both? Have you read any other books you’d call ‘confessional’?
10. I Love Dick was written in 1997, but has recently resurfaced and found a new and widespread readership. In 2017 an Amazon Prime TV series was released based on the book. Why do you think this resurgence might be happening now?