In Chris Kraus’ epistolary novel I Love Dick, the author—Chris Kraus as herself or a self of her—comes to writing by having a personal and pressing audience to address; from the epistolary comes a novel. “Dear Dick,” she is compelled to write (to a man) but what follows is so much more—a feminist manifesto, a theory of art, performative philosophy, memoir. Why write, we so wonder? Who is “I” and who is “Dear” and am I a Dick? The second best review of I Love Dick I have read (the first is Eileen Myles’ introduction) is by Uni and Chloe Zola Volcano, the two feline authors of Shit My Cats Read. In their review, the cats speak back, appropriating Kraus’ language in a letter addressed to Scott Indrisek, their owner (there has to be a more PC term), the Executive Editor at Modern Painters, and a fantastic writer in his own right. “Dear Scott,” the letter opens, “We are going crazy with a blind want and need and there seems to be no end in sight,” and then on, “…Maybe we’re sick or fucked in the head but we’re cats and it’s in our nature.”
Uni and Chloe are in the privileged position of difference. In an all too bloated field, where the most circulated book reviews are done by other, already-celebrated authors, where we then read their reputations into the reviews as much as we look to learn about the books, or by way-prominent critics, where we then dismiss or accept the reviews based on their reputations, in this field, Uni and Chloe read like cats out of hell. True bohemians, Uni and Chloe belong to that radical leisure class of intellectual, sacrificing luxury and adventure for the still comforts of shelter and good books. Uni and Chloe get to observe from a place of other—what self-knowledge they must accrue in all those cats naps! With no monetary self-interest in publishing, with no New York society reputation to uphold, they do as we all should, in writing–share, engage, uncensored. I. We. Dear. You.
Chris Kraus loved Uni and Chloe’s take on her books and even quoted the girls (“Quelle horreur! -Uni and Chloe, Shit My Cats Read) in the press materials for a September book tour reading of Summer of Hate. I’m delighted to feature blogger/book reviewers Uni and Chloe for a very belated return of the column Across the Tumblrverse, because fuzzy kitties reading Žižek, what more could you want?
Uni, could you please describe Chloe’s unique perspective for me? Chloe, what about Uni? Do you disagree much? Cat fight? Or do you purr in harmony?
Uni: Well, we’re sisters, so I think there’s going to obviously be a certain overlap in our taste matrixes. I feel like Chloe can sometimes read fiction with a pair of Marxist-leftist goggles on, which can get tiresome and reductive, but I still love her.
Chloe: We’re both insane, excitable fans of semi-overwrought, show off-y, intricate pomo stuff, which is perhaps the result of depending on an owner whose bookshelf was, until fairly recently, a bit phallocentric.
Uni: At the end of the day, what we’re doing isn’t all that serious. We’re two cats blogging about books. And they’re just words, you know?
If you were to recommend one book that would best represent you — like to a new friend or lover, as a litmus test for your future together — what would it be?
Chloe: The late Donald Barthelme’s The Dead Father kills it, in my book, puns intended. It’s funny, absurd, cerebral, alternately dense and fluffy, obtuse and entertaining. It’s also nice and short.
Uni: Scott banned us from reading Ben Lerner’s Leaving the Atocha Station, but I snuck it off the shelf when he was away in Brussels or some shit. This book was like a poisoned dart stuck straight in my kittenheart. But in a good way. And yeah, also pretty short. I think we’re in agreement that most novels are too fricken long. But I’m going to break the rules here and add a second title: Chris Kraus’s I Love Dick, which is just awesome.
Which author(s) would you most want to be pet by and why?
Uni: Martin Amis. Because he’s brilliant and hilarious and would probably be okay with my curling up on his shoulder and turning the purrbox up to 11.
Chloe: Zadie Smith. She’s so pretty. She’s a real woman. And I imagine that she has the softest, softest hands.
Have you ever creeped on Scott’s harddrive when he’s out and read his attempts at fiction or book writing? Care to review?
Chloe: Scott possesses a certain intensity that could benefit from a bit of direction. His prose can be unruly, like a feral horse that’s just snorted a trough of bath salts and is now going to, like, run blindly into the distance until it breaks a leg or something.
Uni: We keep saying, Hey man, if you need editors, look no further..
Chloe: He’s so goddamn proud though.
What does Iggy Pop mean when he sings I Wanna Be Your Dog?
Uni: This is a really sad song.
Chloe: It’s about a man who is so low and pathetic that he wants to be brought even lower. He wants to be debased all the way down the evolutionary ladder. Even I Wanna Be Your Slug or I Wanna Be Your Sugar Glider would show a greater level of self-respect. But a dog, Iggy? Step away from the ledge, man. Life is beautiful.