Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Merry Christmas To Me!
It seems I was a very good boy this year; my wife bought me three volumes of Dick's Selected Letters, partially filling the last hole I had in my collection (and adding no less than six inches to my overall Dick length). In fact I'm mulling over writing a book, but have been putting it off until I had access to these letters.
These volumes are known to be ridiculously expensive and/or hard to get; what can I say? I lucked out. My wife got them pretty reasonably (I'm told by her) from lwcurrey.com.
So far I'm about 100 pages into the 1972-73 volume (all grading has been put on hold) and the letters are extremely interesting and shed a lot of light on that particular time in Dick's life: he's just moved to Fullerton from Vancouver; he's broke, alone, and emerging from the darkest year of his life. Letters to lawyers, friends and family, chicks, agents, all delve at length into Dick's problems, interestingly, in almost equal detail whether he's chronicling his troubles to life long friend Ray Nelson, or the snuff vendor, settling up after a check bounced. The writing is incredibly good, in places as funny and as devastating as any of his novels.
As a scholar I think these letters are a bit dangerous (as is any piece of evidence however small and seemingly innocuous in the Case of Philip K Dick); as they are the 'Selected Letters' I wonder who selected them (that's probably in an introduction I skipped), what was left out, and why. I have lots of questions, like why does Phil refer to Tessa in one letter as Leslie? Who exactly is 'Kathy'? And why in the world did PKD write that letter to the FBI about Disch's Camp Concentration?
Don't expect answers to these questions (that's my silent mantra), but I will write up a more thorough post about this volume when I'm done. How many of you have these? Tell us your thoughts in the comments section.
Update: TDH buddy Palmer_Eldritch has, coincidentally, recently posted quotes from the 72-73 volume of the letters here.