I am alive and you are dead

August 15, 2006

I have been on a Philip K. Dick jag lately, triggered by the release of the new movie A Scanner Darkly (I will write a review of it later). Anyway, mixed in with a serial re-reading of his novels, I took the time to read the excellent Dick biography I am alive and you are dead. Although it does an excellent job of explaining the source of Dick’s obsessions with alternate realities and surface deceptions, the real value of the book is the numerous, often amusing, anecdotes that illustrate Dick’s character. A visiting French intellectual insists Ubik is one of the five best novels ever written, Dick assumes he must mean, at most, one the five best sci-fi novels ever. When the visitor insists that he really means one of the five best novels ever, the humble Dick is left baffled. Dick is convinced that Stanislaw Lem is part of an elaborate Soviet plot to lure him to Poland to brainwash him, and prevent him from revealing God’s ultimate truth to the world. Dick cannot understand his wife’s anger at his modeling of the controlling, insensitive, domineering wife in Confessions of a Crap Artist on her: “It’s just a book,” he keeps saying. Unfortunately, for Dick, it never was.


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