I Love Dick: The novel and the Amazon series in brief
Have to begin by saying that I was turned on to the book from Jill Soloway's fantastic first episodes of the show on Amazon with the marvelous actors Kevin Bacon as Dick, Kathryn Hahn as Chris and Griffin Dunne as her real-life-then husband and scholar Sylvère Lotinger. Having now read the novel, I don't see how Soloway can create another fabulous season (but one can hope), and she is a brilliant screenplay writer and director as the show Transparent amply proved. I'm glad Amazon took a chance on her again with this show based super loosely on Kraus's novel.
Pretty much the novel is a bare-hearted exploration of what it is to be a female artist and pretty much unheard. The novel, admittedly and wonderfully open about its autobiographical roots, is filled with literary allusions and brief discussions/essays on art and literature in abundance. Here’s just one example to give you a sense of Kraus’s reading depth and wry humor: “Who was it, Marx or Wittgenstein, who said that ‘every question, problem, contains the seeds of its own answer or solution through negation’”?*
The exuberant forward by poet Eileen Myles and the equally admiring afterword by Joan Hawkins are also well-worth the read.
Dick who is apparently based on the real Dick Hebdige is never humanized in the novel.
The reverse for Dick, played by Kevin Bacon, is totally the case in Soloway's brilliant move away from the novel--with this exception: Solloway’s shared view of the female artist's problems in a male dominated world, warmly revealed and with fewer literary allusions and a bunch more characters: Toby, a love of a transgender activist and artist, the ephemeral Devon, who gives a performance-art exhibition that you have to see to believe and many other simply thrilling illustrations of the problem. You gotta watch the first season and hope for a second to see what I mean. So I’ll leave you to the show. See it.
The novel is a fascinating read for its own bravery and I read it fast and furiously.
But I have to say, I love Jill Soloway's humanizing series: More moving, totally addictive and I love Kevin Bacon's restrained and sensitive performance. Kathryn Hahn is just a delight and so is Dunne, it turns out!
But here's a hear, hear for Kraus!
My brief review of the novel is based on the Kindle edition I Love Dick by Chris Kraus: SEMIOTEXT(E) NATIVE AGENTS SERIES Copyright © 1998, 2006 Chris Kraus
*Kraus, Chris. I Love Dick (Semiotext(e) / Native Agents) (Kindle Location 1839).
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