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. 

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About Letters to James Franco

My name is Don Peteroy. I'm a PhD. candidate at University of Cincinnati. My major has a long name, so try to say it in one breath: "English and Comparative Literature with a Creative Dissertation." I spent the majority of my adult years as a social worker. I decided it's pointless to help people, so I've devoted the rest of my life to reading and writing. Here's all my publications and works in progress: My novella, "Wally," published by Burrow Press, in the fall of 2012. Novella: "A World Without Owls" Unpublished. Novel: "My Helicopter Heart" Unpublished. A failed playwright stalks Kirsten Dunst during the Christian apocalypse. My short story, "The Circuit Builders" is the winner of the 2012 Playboy College Fiction contest, and will appeared in the October 2012 issue. Here's are more published and forthcoming short stories: "The Trouble With Hello is Goodbye": Arcadia Magazine 7, 2014. "Kurt Vonnegut Didn't Like Me" Online Sundries, 2/14 http://www.arcadiamagazine.org/4/post/2014/02/kurt-vonnegut-didnt-like-me.html "Because I Want to Know You" forthcoming reprint in Short Story America "A Hole Without A Rim," forthcoming in the Florida Review "Keeping it for Good," The Heartland Review. Forthcoming. “A Penny In A Pill Bottle,” Dislocate, Winter 2012. “Because I Want to Know You” Yemessee, 19.2, 2002. “The Sluggers” Santa Carla Review. Spring 2012. “Maps and Legends” Chattahoochee Review. Spring 2012. “Melinda, Listen to Me” Permafrost, vol. 33, 2011. “Rondo” Licking River Review, Fall 2011. “The Ugly Marriage Counselor” Eleven Eleven, vol.11, 2011. “The Healing Frequency” Newport Review, Summer 2011. “His Name Equals His Name” The Ultimate Writer Magazine, Summer 2011. “This Is How I Will Hold You” The Westchester Review, vol. 5, 2011. “In Accordance To The Needs Of A Canadian Literary Magazine” Worcester Review, vol. 31.1, 2011. “Too Much Anthropology” Cream City Review, vol. 34.2, 2011. “There Are No Fragments” Ellipsis, vol. 46, 2010. “Confessions of a Misunderstood Sidekick” Farallon Review, vol.3, 2010 “One Day, God Will Kill Everyone” Oyez Review, vol. 37, 2010. “When Hawks Make Love” The Susquehanna Review, Fall 2009. “Goddess Corpse” The Maynard, Fall 2009. “Misconceptions About the Nature of Blood” CRIT Journal, Summer 2009. “Go Up” The Cynic, Fall 2009. “The Misuse of Old British Words” Two Hawks Quarterly, Spring 2009. “Dead or Unlisted” The Rejected Quarterly, Spring 2003. “Sleep Log” The Timber Creek Review, Spring 2002. There are other stories out there, somewhere, but I've lost track. Awards: “From One Object to Another.” Finalist for the Glimmer Train Short Fiction Award, 2009. “His Name Equals His Name” Finalist for the Gulf Coast Donald Barthelme Award, 2009. “In Accordance To The Needs Of A Canadian Literary Magazine” 2011 Pushcart Prize nominee. "A World Without Owls." Finalist, Gold Line Press Chapbook Contest, 2011. “Confessions of a Misunderstood Sidekick” Sacramento Stories on Stage Series in California, June 2011. "The Circuit Builders" winner of the Playboy College Fiction Award 2012. "The Trouble With Hello is Goodbye" nominated for a Pushcart Award.

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