I Dreamed of Kirsten Dunst
Dear James Franco,
Whenever I get sick, my dreams become vivid. Right now, I’m sick, and last night, I had a dream about your friend Kirsten Dunst. Let me contextualize this because it has to do with my writing. As I’ve mentioned, my first book will be available on October 9th. It’s called Wally (Burrow Press). It’s a road trip narrative. Wally gets in his car and drives as far north as one can drive on this continent. I started writing it in 2007, in conjunction with its sequel, My Helicopter Heart. Both are epistolary novels (well, one’s a novella, but we’ll talk about that strange distinction another time). Wally is written to Elizabeth, Wally’s estranged wife. My Helicopter Heart is written to Kirsten Dunst, and it takes place ten years after Wally, during the Christian apocalypse. He’s on a mission to find and protect her.
Beginning in 2007, my friends and mentors have asked, “Why Kirsten Dunst? Why don’t you just make it someone similar to her?” I’ve been warned that it’ll never get published, for fear of lawsuit. I don’t have the energy to defend my decision right now, but it has to be her. Or another celebrity. Someone real and famous. I chose her because she’s pretty and I’m shallow.
I want this book to get published eventually. I’ve put my entire life into both these Wally stories.
I’m prone to anxiety and depression, and lately, I’ve been experiencing a rather heavy load of both. Boo fucking hoo, right? Well, here’s my list of stresses: I want Wally to be successful. I have a story coming out in Playboy, and I don’t know what to expect from that. It’s both exciting and terrifying. I’m in a PhD program that buries students in work (as they should), so I’m still trying to coordinate my academic time, writing time (a few minutes a day), time with my wife (a few minutes a day), and the musical part of my life (the only thing keeping me sane).
Now, to last night’s dream. I was doing a book signing at Tower Records, which doesn’t exist anymore. I must have been successful because there was a huge line. The book, incidentally, was not My Helicopter Heart or Wally, but Facial Stab Wounds, another novel, which I started earlier this summer. As I’m signing, I hear gasps in the crowd. Cameras start flashing. Everyone takes out their iPhones and Droids and starts filming something going on at the back of the line. I hear people whispering, “It’s Kirsten Dunst!”
I panic. Now let’s think about it. Why would I panic instead of say to myself, “Fuck yeah! She’s come to buy my book!” Assuming that in dream world, My Helicopter Heart was published, I probably panicked because Kirsten didn’t respond to the book favorably. I was either sued, or publically lambasted for fictionalizing a celebrity for my own gain (filmmakers can do that, but writers cannot). In any case, she approaches my table. She’s got on sun glasses that extend all the way down her face, to her jaw-line. She’s wearing an unbuttoned flannel, and her chest is bare, exposed. Mind you, I’m not a breast guy. I’m impartial to breast as I am to elbows, so her nakedness has a non-erotic significance. I’ll allow you to interpret that. At this point, I’m a bumbling fool. I say something necessary, like, “It’s great to finally meet you.” She stares at me. Utter apathy. I noticed all the people filming us, and I get angry. I yell, “Do not put this on You Tube! Put your cameras away or I won’t sign anything!”
Kirsten lays the book on the table, opens it, and hands me a pen. I say, “Should I address this to you?”
She points to the stack of My Helicopter Heart behind me and says, “You did that once already and it was enough.”
Gulp. The pen wavers over the page. I say, “What would you like me to write?”
She says, “Your telephone number and email address.”
I say, “Is it for you, or your lawyers?”
“Just write it.”
I draw a roller coaster, then scribble my contact information beneath it.
She glares at me hard, buttons up her shirt, then leaves.
That’s the end, as far as I’m concerned. I told this to my wife and she pointed out how “meta” my dream was. The Kirsten Dunst in My Helicopter Heart is not Kirsten Dunst, but a profile I’d constructed from interviews and web pages. It’s the “represented” Kirsten Dunst (this is the heart of the novel, by the way, and why I need a real person). In my dream, the “represented” Kirsten—who, essentially, is nothing but a character in a novel—approaches me, her author. Add to it the fact that dreams are representations, so we have a representation of a representation confronting a representation of me.
Fascinating. We just can’t get at anything.
I wish the dream could have followed Freytag’s pyramid. I’d like to know what she did, or was planning to do with my email address.
That’s it. Done. I’m going to bed.