Friday, January 23, 2009
Third Library of America Volume to Include.....
I've been getting a lot of email regarding the third PKD volume from the Library of America. I went to the source and asked the volume's editor Jonathan Lethem. He responded this morning. Drum roll please.... Volume Three, titled VALIS and Later Novels, due out July 30, 2009, will include:
A Maze of Death
The Divine Invasion
The Transmigration of Bishop Timothy Archer
The inclusion of A Maze of Death in this edition is perhaps Lethem's most controversial choice yet. Dick's irv is tailor-made for long-winded discussions over Cheetos and Mountain Dews about which books should be included in these kind of faux-canon-making endevors, but it is interesting to note that Lethem chose A Maze of Death over Radio Free-Albemuth. I like this selection as it compiles, in one edition, much of Dick's later, more overtly religious/cosmological work.
This has all got me thinking. I mean the Library of America is supposedly dedicated to 'preserving America's best and most significant writing,' but from my vantage point, there would be no volume three if the first two volumes had been duds. Perhaps the most Dickian assembly of this edition would include excerpts from the Exegesis, which would undoubtedly sell well (especially if it included previously unavailable entries), but would sort of undercut the LoA's reputation. Very few people have read the Exegesis in its entirety - perhas Sutin is the only one - so, by virtue of its obscurity, it cannot really be America's most significant writing.
In the world with that edition, Dick has managed to expose the LoA's hypocrisy and vault even his most far-flung theories onto the literati's bookshelves. His pulpish search for meaning has been upgraded, evolved onto onion skin paper - the literary establishment's seal of approval. To legitimize his own search for meaning, while de-legitimizing the medium of distribution, wow, that's pretty Dickian.