Philip K. Dick, Part II

The Library of America, “dedicated to publishing, and keeping in print, authoritative editions of America’s best and most significant writing” has put out their deluxe Dick volume. The current New Yorker has a review of the book by Adam Gopnick. The New York Times review of a couple of months ago is here.

My prediction of forty years ago that Dick would become the object of a cult of readers and that eventually mainstream culture mavens would have no choice but to acknowledge his sur-genius has long since come to pass. Witness the number of Hollywood renditions of his work, pretty much all bogus, with the possible exception of Blade Runner which although as inaccurate as the others is at least true to the spirit of Dick’s insane but entirely on-the-money vision of things as they really are, or might be. (An interesting essay on Dick and the movies, from a Wired Magazine of four years ago is here.) During the brief time that I knew Dick in the early seventies I could have obtained movie rights for all his novels in exchange for some women’s phone numbers but, alas, it was one of many missed opportunities in my life.

Above is a photo of my shelf of Dick novels. (Click on it to see the full-sized image.) It’s probably not all of them because I have a habit of misplacing things. But it’s most of them and I’m guessing that the collection would be worth about a hundred grand now except that they were all read many, many times and are therefore in pretty bad shape.

As a matter of fact I know some are missing because where’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? And of four autographed copies (add another million to the value of each of those) I can only find three.

How these came to be signed is slightly amusing. Dick knocked on my door one night. He was with a very attractive young woman who it turns out he’d just met in a bar. She wouldn’t believe he was a published and somewhat famous author. He’d seen my collection of his books so brought her over to see them and borrow a few she could read. I said yeah sure, and he chose four. (It would be interesting to know which four but that was too long ago.) I said, you can have those four if you sign four others. I should have had him sign them all. Of course there were too many but while he was busy signing books I could have made out with his date.

A previous Dick tale is here.

Tomorrow, my other favourite author, Jack Kerouac, hits the big time.

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