stephanie dickinson


An Interview with Jean Seberg
2013, New Michigan Press, essay

Cover artwork: Jill Hoffman


In Heat: An Interview with Jean Seberg, Stephanie Dickinson becomes the voice of a legendary movie star and the last All-American girl Jean Seberg. Written as a fictional interview, no question is off-limits (French husbands, love with a Black Panther, alcoholism, death of a child, suicide). The imaginary answers are real and haunting as they pull you into a fascinating world of the 1960s. Dickinson skillfully draws on her own Midwestern childhood and with heart-rending imagery gives us a portrait of a dreamy teenager in Marshalltown who "watched the bluegill bite the hook's surprise," a girl who could never shrug off her small-town roots even as she embraced the Paris life of celebrity. Every page is a story, an inner dialogue, a provocative meditation on Hollywood that is "no Babylonian Talmud," on beauty that "isn't a marzipan cookie," on destiny "you're whatever the script asks, lily or green toad." Dickinson has written a book of such depth, knowledge and sensitivity that it should be considered the star's authorized biography because had Jean Seberg read this she would have cried with joy at the prospect of finally being understood.

Marina Rubin, author of Stealing Cherries, Logic and Ode to Hotels

Life's an existential journey for Jean Seberg. It's not easy being a seething adolescent sex-pot, a free-love heroine of French New Wave films and Black Panthers, a mother, not to mention Joan of Arc burning at a funeral pyre under the direction of Otto Preminger. A film director or critic cuts through the fine fa├žade between life onstage and off -- killing and resurrecting. "What's real is make-believe..." just as this interview is. Dickinson's great talent lies not in writing about Jean Seberg but in occupying that space between her spirit and her flesh. Dickinson speaks Seberg, sees Seberg, savors the humiliation of brutish critics until it sours, has felt heavy make up melting on her face, heard the sobs of butterflies alighting in her body's crevices, felt the heat rise from her torched costume, been trapped in a sack, taken to the anvil, hammered. Even then, says Seberg-Dickinson, "I'm deep in the sky. Alive."

Maria Lisella, author of Two Naked Feet, Amore on Hope St. and Thieves in the Family

Read an EXCERPT at the Pithead Chapel website where it was voted 'Best of the Net'.

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