One Final Confession

Drawer of Forks and SpoonsAfter a Dangerous Mind and a Superhero, you’ll want to hear the Confessions of a Crap Artist by Philip K. Dick. Or read it anyway.

Hollywood has made a number of high profile movies based on PKD’s stories. They never quite seem to get them right, though. They always seem to miss the really intriguing ideas.

Some of PKD’s stuff is really weird. My favorites include Ubik, The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said, A Maze of Death, Time Out of Joint, The Penultimate Truth, Martian Time-Slip, Clans of the Alphane Moon, and Counter-Clock World. But not really in that order.

Some people really like The Man in the High Castle, which is based upon some Japanese style of novel. And I think it’s OK, but I really don’t think that I get it like the folks who really like it get it.

On the other hand, there are definitely a few stinkers. I’m talking about you, Our Friends from Frolix 8!!! It just seems like a pointless re-hash of unconnected ideas from other novels.

When you’re first reading PKD, you think his stuff is weird and wonder where he got all these strange ideas. But eventually it clicks. He finds a metaphor for some aspect of modern life, and runs with it. It really quickly turns into a bizarre strange mess. Which is incredibly illuminating of the current condition.

It’s pretty cool stuff, and not really as paranoid or strangely metaphysical as it seems at first. He’s just talking about real life here and now. You see that, don’t you? It’s important that you realize that there’s nothing at all weird in his novels. That’s just really how the world works.

The last book he wrote (The Transmigration of Timothy Archer, which really wasn’t part of a trilogy no matter what they tell you) wasn’t really science fiction. In that way it was like his early novels, which were written before PDK discovered that he was really a science fiction author. There were a small number of them. They were all originally rejected by publishers.

Only one of these was eventually published during his lifetime. That was Confessions of a Crap Artist. It may not be the best of the straight fiction novels, but it is definitely the most accessible. This guy with mental problems is living with his normal sister and her husband. The guy with the mental problems is the crap artist. There’s something wrong with him and everybody knows it. As the book progresses, you realize that unlike all the normal people, he’s the only one not doing Very Bad Things.

It’s an OK book. In France it was made into a movie called Barjo. It’s supposed to be a pretty good movie. I recommend them both, especially if you don’t have the patience for wading through the later science fictiony metaphorical stuff. PKD’s entire¬†oeuvre is represented in Confessions of a Crap Artist.

About Lyle Verbilion

I'm just wanderin' around lookin' at things. Wow.
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