In 1991, unhappily married Sylvie and her husband set off on a journey across Eastern Europe in search of a Romanian orphan to adopt.
Sylvie wanted to believe that misery could simply be replaced with happiness. Time was a straight line, stretching out before you. If you could create a golden kind of time and lay it right beside the other time, the time of horror, Bad History could just recede into the distance without ever having to be resolved.
-- from Torpor
Set at the dawn of the New World Order, Chris Kraus's third novel, Torpor loops back to the beginning of the decade that was the basis of I Love Dick, her pseudo-confessional cult-classic debut. It's summer, 1991, post-MTV, pre-AOL. Jerome Shafir and Sylvie Green, two former New Yorkers who can no longer afford an East Village apartment, set off on a journey across the entire former Soviet Bloc with the specious aim of adopting a Romanian orphan. Nirvana's on the radio everywhere, and wars are erupting across Yugoslavia.
Unhappily married to Jerome, a 53-year-old Columbia University professor who loathes academe, Sylvie thinks only of happiness. There are only two things, Sylvie thinks, that will save them: a child of their own, and the success of The Anthropology of Unhappiness, her husband's long-postponed book on the Holocaust. But as they move forward toward impoverished Romania, Jerome's memories of his father's extermination at Auschwitz and his own childhood survival impede them. Savagely ironic and deeply lyrical, Torpor is Kraus's most personal novel to date.
The latest novel from the author of cult super-hit I Love Dick
Praise for I Love Dick: 'I know there was a time before I read Chris Kraus's I Love Dick (in fact, that time was only five years ago), but it's hard to imagine; some works of art do this to you. They tear down so many assumptions about what the form can handle (in this case, what the form of the novel can handle) that there is no way to re-create your mind before your encounter with them -- Sheila Heti Ever since I read I Love Dick, I have revered it as one of the most explosive, revealing, lacerating and unusual memoirs ever committed to the page ... I Love Dick is never a comfortable read, and it is by turns exasperating, horrifying, and lurid, but it is never less than genuine, and often completely illuminating about the life of the mind. -- Rick Moody
Chris Kraus' previous works include Aliens and Anorexia, I Love Dick and Summer of Hate, as well as Video Green: Los Angeles Art and the Triumph of Nothingness and Where Art Belongs. A Professor of Writing at the European Graduate School, she writes for various magazines and lives in Los Angeles.