Sunday, May 6, 2007

Now Wait For Last Cover Story


Pictured above is the cover of the Book Review section of the LA Times from June 20, 2004. The caricature of PKD advertises a review (sorry it's password protected or I'd link to it, but it's a waste of time anyway) of Carrere's book 'I Am Alive and You Are Dead: A Journey in the Mind of Philip K Dick' by Francie Lin who writes:

Doubt extended beyond his romantic entanglements and into the murkier realm of religion and the nature of consciousness. In the early 1960s, driven by a vision of a satanic face in the sky, Dick became a member of the Episcopal Church, mainly because the church, unlike psychologists, took his vision as an objective event, a real manifestation of evil rather than an indication of insanity. His religious feelings remained complex. He offered a stinging parody of the Eucharist in his 1965 novel "The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch," and yet he remained a staunch Christian, defending his belief against debunkers. When his friend Bishop James Pike reported to him that the Gospels "were a fraud" and that Jesus was just a follower whom others had elevated into "a colossal scam," Dick answered that this didn't change anything. He still had faith.

Wait a second, this isn't a review of Carrere's fictionalized biography, it's a Readers Digest version of Dick's life! We need look no further than today's story in the New York Times, to see the consistent conflation of Dick's life and work in these kinds of articles. Surprisingly this older article does not contain the currently standard "Dick is finally getting the serious literary attention he deserves" line, but I have found those kinds of blurbs in articles and on PKD covers going back 25 years.

I'm no pre-cog but I predict Dick will be "just on the verge of finally getting the literary recognition he so richly deserves" for the foreseeable future. Dick already gets rock-star attention from the media every time an adaptation, biography, or new edition comes out. Dick has been consciously marketed as the next big thing for 30 years and frankly the reputation has paid off.

But stumbling onto PKD semi-randomly is so great. Somebody just hands you a copy of "A Scanner Darkly" (in my case when I was 19) and the next thing you know you're reading any PKD you can get your hands on. It makes you think that there are undiscovered treasures of great art out there and you suddenly want to go find them. I don't want the next generation of Dick-heads to miss out on that rush.

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