When I wrote I Love Dick, I was a complete outsider, so it was a very reckless, wild I. Now that my work has been more widely circulated, to continue to write from that outsider position would be false. It seemed easier to convey Catt Dunlop’s vortex through the third person.

I figured that out when I wrote Torpor. In a way Torpor is the prequel to I Love Dick: how could the characters have come to this insane point where, as a couple, they’re writing love letters to this third person? The story of how that happens is the story of his background as a child survivor of the Holocaust, their marriage, her abortions. In order to tell that story truthfully I had to be ruthless with the characters and sometimes turn them into clowns. You can’t really do that with the first person: you can’t turn the I into a clown, particularly if you’re a woman. People will say: “Oh my God, she hates herself, I feel so sorry for her, she should get therapy.” The only way you can turn your female I into a clown is to make her a third person character. The material in Torpor was really more personal—I Love Dick was all shtick, people say it was confession, but it was all shtick, a stand up routine. Torpor was a much more personal book, and in order for it to be personal and psychological to that degree, I needed the freedom to move those characters around, as you can do in the third person.

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