Wednesday, May 30, 2007
Frank Rose's Unabridged Lethem Interview
Frank Rose, the author of the recent PKD article/interview with Jonathan Lethem "Philip K Dick Goes Legit With Library of America Canon" in Wired, responded to The Total Dick-Head's coverage of the coverage. Rose writes:
"Despite what it says in the magazine, I did not ask Jonathan Lethem what made Dick's early works so bad. My question was, what made his early novels so bad — in response to Lethem's statement that many of them were. This was changed due to an editing error before the magazine went to press. For a full transcript of the interview the magazine excerpt was taken from, please visit my Web site."
On his website you'll find the rest of the interview with Lethem that wound up on the cutting room floor. It's a good interview that was clearly trimmed far too much. I can empathize. I worked for a short spell at a music news website called SonicNet during the nineties. I lost interest in becoming a journalist when idiotic editors started inserting horrible jokes into stories that had my name in the byline.
Rose then tries to defend Wired's proclamation that Dick's fiction was "expired":
"Finally, the whole Wired-Tired-Expired thing is not meant to be taken too seriously. You can find that particular entry funny or not funny, as you like. But if we weren't fans of Philip K. Dick, we wouldn't be writing about him in the first place."
Yes, I know the whole Wired/Tired thing is a joke that plays on the fickleness of our cultural obsessions, but it makes it look like you're fans of Dick's life and not his work and to imagine the two as separate demonstrates a rather unsophisticated appreciation of his efforts. Plus, it's mean to say that the sum total of an author's career is "expired." Finally, it's clear that the entry was wrong, and if I'm not mistaken one of the main points about Wired/Tired is that it lets your readers know what's hot and what isn't before those trends are obvious to everyone. Clearly in this case you gave most of your readers the sense that the upcoming bio-pics about PKD are more interesting than Dick's fiction. That's pretty lousy advice from some pretty lousy fans.