Chris Kraus on the notions of “real life” and freedom in her new novel Summer of Hate.
I first met Chris Kraus in 2005, after I contacted her about her novel, I Love Dick. We began an email correspondence and I told Chris about a book I had just started writing, Beauty Talk & Monsters, my first. She asked me to send her the manuscript. Given that I’d been a life-long reader of Semiotext(e) titles, particularly Native Agents—Chris’s visionary imprint of experimental, first-person writing by women (an American equivalent of the Foreign Agents series launched with Cookie Mueller’s Walking Through Clear Water in a Pool Painted Black)—publishing with Semiotext(e) and being part of this inspiring roster of titles, an anti-canon of New Narrative talent, was a dream come true.
I started sending the pages of my book to Chris literally as I was writing them. She was supportive and generous and would email me replies from the road, telling me she was reading the stories in her car. Her third novel Torpor, the end of a trilogy, was coming out, and she was just starting to write Summer of Hate. A parable and noir on border politics, poverty, and incarceration, Summer of Hate also takes place on the road, and depicts the everyday horrors, injustices, and banalities of the 21st century American landscape, specifically the Southwest, during the second Bush administration. I was introduced to Chris’s writing while writing my own first book, so ending with Summer of Hate while doing my first interview with her marks another important genealogy for me, one in which Chris continues to chart and track not just her own intellectual and creative biography, but the creative and intellectual biography of many women writers and thinkers.
Masha Tupitsyn In 2007, Semiotext(e) published my first book, Beauty Talk & Monsters, a cross-genre book I feel like people are only starting to understand now. You were my editor and publisher. Throughout the years, we’ve stayed in touch, done readings together, and you even teach at The European Graduate School, where I’m now doing my PhD. I continue to follow your work, and you have continued to read mine, so doing this interview seems like a natural thing to do.
Chris Kraus I think so too! I remember when you were working on Beauty Talk, the problems you had with people thinking the book had to be either criticism or fiction. But you persisted . . . and I think LACONIA: 1,200 Tweets on Film answers this question of genre so elegantly. It’s a personal essay, manifesto, confession, a critical investigation, all at the same time. Really this obsession with genre is a false question. All of these qualities are literary.