Bellamy's debut novel revives a minor character from Bram Stoker's Dracula and imagines her as an independent woman living in San Francisco during the 1980s.
Hypocrisy's not the problem, I think, it's allegory the breeding ground of paranoia. The act of reading into—how does one know when to stop? KK says that Dodie has the advantage because she's physical and I'm “only psychic.” … The truth is: everyone is adopted. My true mother wore a turtleneck and a long braid down her back, drove a Karmann Ghia, drank Chianti in dark corners, fucked Gregroy Corso … —Dodie Bellamy, The Letters of Mina Harker
First published in 1998, Dodie Bellamy's debut novel The Letters of Mina Harker sought to resuscitate the central female character from Bram Stoker's Dracula and reimagine her as an independent woman living in San Francisco during the 1980s—a woman not unlike Dodie Bellamy. Harker confesses the most intimate details of her relationships with four different men in a series of letters. Vampirizing Mina Harker, Bellamy turns the novel into a laboratory: a series of attempted transmutations between the two women in which the real story occurs in the gaps and the slippages. Lampooning the intellectual theory-speak of that era, Bellamy's narrator fights to inhabit her own sexuality despite feelings of vulnerability and destruction. Stylish but ruthlessly unpretentious, The Letters of Mina Harker was Bellamy's first major claim to the literary space she would come to inhabit.
Dodie Bellamy's writing focuses on sexuality, politics and narrative experimentation, challenging the distinctions between fiction, the essay and poetry. In 2018–19 she was the subject of On Our Mind, a yearlong series of public events, commissioned essays and reading group meetings organized by CCA Wattis ICA. With Kevin Killian, she coedited Writers Who Love Too Much: New Narrative 1977–1997. A compendium of essays on Bellamy's work, Dodie Bellamy Is on Our Mind, was published in 2020 by Wattis ICA/Semiotext(e).
I am … in awe of Dodie Bellamy's talent … grateful for the profound ways in which this novel has caused me to consider what the novel form is and can be when subjected to the most brilliant and original talent imaginable. The Letters of Mina Harker has continually unfolded in my imagination and increased my astonishment … its power and beauty have remained utterly mysterious.
A luscious deeply fucked up extravagant work.
The Letters of Mina Harker unfurls like a red velvet carpet wilkomming you to a house of horrors.