Am reading Emmanuel Carrere's Philip K. Dick bio I Am Alive and You Are Dead, discussed earlier here (including a retort from Gary Indiana, whose review of the book was being bashed). Carrere's narrative is definitely a delight for a Dick cultist: I love the way he recounts one of Dick's daydreams--an astronaut reading aloud from a satellite to radio listeners as he circles endlessly over a post-nuclear holocaust Earth--without tipping off non-insiders that that's one of the subplots of Dr Bloodmoney, or the interweaving of Dick's day to day bloody marital battles into a plot synopsis of Clans of the Alphane Moon. It's oodles of fun if you already know everything about Dick (and most of the particulars of Carrere's tale have been told elsewhere). The down side of Carrere's (artful, accurate) blurring of the boundaries between Dick's life and fiction, though, is that it gives ample material for haters like Indiana. If you don't like PKD's writing, the author is just a bundle of neuroses and the writing merely a symptom of those neuroses.
For some of us, though, Dick was how we survived the Reagan '80s. Powerless to stop the eight year reign of the stupid, overhyped Gipper, it was easy to retreat into Dick's "fictional" world--not so easy to create, not as dismissable as Indiana would have you believe--and know that was an animatronic dummy, possibly an insect creature from space, up there on the TV mouthing platitudes scripted by sharp ad men. Indiana, meanwhile, spent the decade limning the Boom's art world sociology, in the pages of the Village Voice: Just another kind of useless metafiction, but with a high culture connection Dick never had.
Let the record reflect that I've read more novels by PKD than by any other author (He managed to write more novels than most, but I digress). I love that guy! For any newbies looking for a place to start, I suggest 'The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch'.
Carrere has a good chapter on Palmer Eldritch, talking about Dick's fascination with his daughter's Barbie and Ken set. If you have a lot of Dick books I think we will really enjoy this bio. It is like being in Phil's head--for good and bad. It's possible that even non-fans (other than Indiana) might even be moved to investigate Dick after reading this, but I can't detach myself from my own involvement with the author enough to say for sure.
Golly some people sure get touchy when PK Dick becomes the topic...
Yeah, I was surprised Carrere didn't come back to it after making that one veiled mention. (Maybe he does--I'm about a chapter shy of finishing.) Carrere goes into depth on Eye, Time, Castle, Slip, Clans, Palmer, Sheep, Ubik, Scanner, and (peeking ahead) Archer, but seems to use the later novels mostly as bio material.
Many thanks for the tip off on this book, Tom. I had no Idea it existed. I'm almost done with it and, being a Dickhead, have really enjoyed learning how things in Dick's life shaped his books.
Great--I'm glad you liked it. I liked the way Carrere described The Rat (a Dick-invented character in Monopoly who could rewrite all the rules) and the appearance and reappearance of the Rat in Dick's writings.