Sunday, October 21, 2007

Isa Dick-Hackett Interview in French Media

The official PKD website posted this interview Isa Dick-Hackett did recently with the French media (in French). I shot the link over to Henri, webmaster of The Philip K Dick Bookshelf, and he was kind enough to provide us with a translation. I love it when a plan comes together:

"For the first time in France, the daughter of Philip K Dick, Isa Dick-Hackett, tells about the life and the works of her father. Exclusive interview.

Philip K Dick was married five times. Isa Dick is the second daughter of the author of Blade Runner. Since his death in 1982, his three children (Laura, Isa and Christopher) founded the Philip K Dick Trust that takes care of the integrity of the work of their father. Isa Dick-Hackett lives in San Francisco. She tells about her father, and tells how his first mainstream novel was found and published.

Le Figaro Littéraire: Which memories do you keep of your father?
ISA DICK-HACKETT: My mother, Nancy Hackett, and he divorced when I was only three and half years old. Nonetheless, I continued to see him until his death. I remember especially his sense of humor. He had a unique way to distance himself. He made me laugh my heart out. And that will remain always there, at the bottom of my heart. All my childhood, I was aware that my father was a writer. However, every time I entered a bookstore, and that I looked for his books, I could not find any. Soon, I had the strange feeling that if one day I ended up seeing one of them, I would also become real.

LFL: And today?
IDH: I do not have this kind of dilemma any more: one finds his novels in bookstores all around the world...

LFL: What kind of man was he?
IDH: He was intelligent, very cultivated, very smart. He was able to speak about anything with ease, from mushrooms to history of Russia. About French literature as well as international politics. It was incredible. However, he never made me feel my own lack of culture. As a child, he did all to reassure me, to encourage me. One evening, I remember that he read me Roog, the first story he had published. This story depicts the terror a dog feels about the garbage collectors... But from the point of view of the animal! He wanted to know if I would guess who was the narrator of the story. And as I quickly found out, he told me that some university professors had still not understood it.

LDL: Do you remember seeing him at work? What were his habits? His rituals?
IDH: I remember especially his typewriter. It was an Olympia that he had bought in 1964, and from which he never parted. It was fascinating to see him working, because he typed with his two forefingers. But at what a speed! The rest of time he was wandering around the house, walking in circles, probably thinking about his next book. At the time, he worked mainly on the Divine Trilogy and his private diary, the Exegesis.

LDL: Did the untimely death of his twin sister influence his life and his work?
IDH: Yes. Of course. His twin sister Jane died at two months of age. It is clear that it has influenced his life and his works. He often spoke about her. Jenny [Jane?] had become his obsession with the passing of years. It is undoubtedly for that reason that, the theme of ubiquity is recurrent in his novels.... I also have twins, Lucas and Dilan. In the family, it seems that we have predispositions...

LDL: What do you think of his slow recognition in the American literary circles?
IDH: It takes time to be recognized. Philip K Dick did not escaped this rule. I am really happy that six months ago, four of his novels were published in the prestigious collection "Library of America". A little bit like if he entered the "Pleiade" in France... It pleased me even more knowing that, a few years ago, the same people considered my father as a small science fiction writer, the preacher of a certain counter-culture at best.

LDL: How did you get the manuscript of the Voices from the Street?
IDH: We found this large manuscript in the personal records of my father, kept in his Santa Ana’s house. As we know, Philip K Dick wrote eight mainstream novels, mainly in the 1950’s. All remained unpublished until his death. Nobody was really interested in his mainstream work, except for Confessions of a Crap Artist, published in 1975. In the mid 80’s, the editors started to publish them. However, the manuscript of the Voices from the Street, which was nearly 600 pages long, did not interest them. For obscure reasons, the editors of the series thought that there would be no market for such a novel. I have to say that the task was huge. The text needed to be proofread again, corrected and completely retyped on a computer. It is a small miracle that we ended up finding a publisher which agreed to embark in this adventure, with what he regarded as an experimental novel, a book of initiation...

LDL: Is this its first novel of general literature?
IDH: I believe that it is. It is essentially a book of his youth, written between 1952 and 1953, at the time he was employed in a record store that also repaired television sets. Exactly as the main character of the Voices From the Street. At that time, he listened to classical music, a passion he maintained until his death, and he read Proust, Joyce, Stendhal and Flaubert. He lived with his second wife, Kleo Apostolides, in a large house in Berkeley, with a large backyard where his cats could play. He was beginning to suffer from agoraphobia. Since his meeting with the editor Anthony Boucher, his mentor, he wrote without interruption science-fiction stories, bought for 350 dollars each [?]. A misery. It is for that reason that he spent days and nights typing on his typewriter. At the end of 1954, he had published sixty-two stories, while he had been a writer for only three years.

LDL: What are you working on at the moment, in connection with the work of your father?
IDH: We are working on a biographical movie. Two projects are currently competing with each other. One with the actor Bill Pullman. The other, with Paul Giamatti, will be produced via our production company, Electric Shepherds. Ridley Scott's Blade Runner which my father did not see, was restored image by image. I had the chance to see it again in Venice, it was very emotional . The emotion is even stronger today because new deleted scenes were added, replacing the initial plot at the heart of the movie. I.e. the obsessional concerns of my father, his eternal questioning on what defines a human being."

Thanks Henri!


John Ryan Elward said...

I somehow arrived here from Wikipedia. Funny thing is I grew up with Isa in Marin and was really close to her family. In fact when I was born my parents and I lived with Isa and her mother.

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Unknown said...

Hello Isa,
I didn't know Phillip K Dick had kids. I never even really considered the possibility. I think it's excellent that you're maintaining and keeping his trust alive. I hope you are benefitted by it, as everyones lives are made of a richer library.
I love Total Recall. I hate to admit it. I'm amazed at the amount of movies have been derived from his material, and that any of them were made.
It would be nice to see a movie which properly reflected his profound take on life without explaining the complicated subtleties in such an in your face manner.
They need not be amplified, thus diluted, just expressed subtly.
Difficult to do in films.

Good luck and take care,

Anonymous said...


Isaac Asimov came out with Atheist Nexus way before your Dad. To sue Google for using the name Nexus in their product (especially when other companies have as well and haven't been pursued) is absurd and is tarnishing your father's name and reputation. I loved his works, shame on you for trying to extort money from Google.

David said...

Me encanta la obra de su padre.
A Scanner Darkly creo, en opinión personal, ha sido fielmente adaptada. Y no solo por las imagenes, sino por el transfondo tan maravilloso que tiene. Es una amplia reflexión interior del ser y el yo. Blade Runner (es que es igual que el libro, si se mira bien, claro) y Monority, también son geniales.
En definitiva. Que los que amamos a Philip siempre nos sentiremos un poco huerfanos con su marcha. Pero no del todo. Menos mal que nos queda su producción.

Unknown said...

Hello Isa. I am 62 (1948). Phillip's work is engaging like life. I saw and loved Blade Runner. But it was a movie, I was working, married, children - no time to think who wrote it? I just finished Divine Intervention, found poking through Powell's in Portland. A lot of Dick on its shelves. The fun thing was, the clarity of the metaphysical that leaves most people scrambling through their talk trash. I am 3/4s through VALIS, and keep reading it although it aggravates me that Dick is not here to argue with. It is this wall of ideas, you walk up, touch it anywhere - and all this brilliance, with the Dick mind bound up in, comes forth. Who and what are these things he pours down on our heads???? The one thing I say to him - REALITY, no matter the level experienced, MATTERS. Trivial, banal - who says? It all leads to a past and a future with the present as the negotiator. For humans, it is the mind, yes an abstraction. Whether you are existential or GOD head, or something in between, whether you are famous or just a smudge in the bottom of a landfill - you have the universe in your head. There are places in the universe where NOTHING happens - I choose DICK to read. If humans ever do leave the solar system - we'll go as an abstraction, digitized information.

Unknown said...

Phillip K. Dick's books affected me profoundly in the 80's and changed how I do things. The Man in the High Castle led to my using the I Ching regularly. I had already studied the 2nd wing, but not used it yet, and this book gave me the kick in the butt to be a participant.
I am a complete Dickhead.

poe said...

I read Ubik when I was over in Vietnam in 1970. It was strange and bizarre and I was heavily into hallucinogenics at the time and quite frankly couldn't remember whether I read it or dreamt it. Years later I was describing it to friend of mine and he brought me up to speed that Ubik was real, yet ethereal at the same time. I since have bought everything he wrote except for some early works and plan to pass him on to all of my kids. Nobody even comes close to Dick and I can only say thank you sir for all that you have contributed to literature and the power of imagination.

Unknown said...
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