Back in the day we had a flatmate who used to joke about “taking a good dick to bed”. It was a couple of weeks before I realised she was talking about Philip K. Dick. At the time I seem to remember reading a few short stories, but never getting the attention span together read a whole novel.

Well, more fool me. I read Ubik a few weeks back, and it was a hell of a yarn. Weird. But a good yarn. One of things that struck me about the book was that the story kind of ramped up, then petered out, and it was someone telling me that Dick was a bit of a speed freak that made the story more coherent (it’s kind of like the story loses itself half-way, and has to be redirected).

And a speed freak he was. According to Divine Invasions, Dick consumed methamphetamines (that’s “P” to you street types) for something like twenty years!

Mostly he consumed the speed to help him write, apparently he could knock out a novel, front to back, in a little as two weeks of furious writing. But he also appears to have just liked getting smashed. Divine Invasions makes for an interesting read because it’s fairly honest about Dick and his failings, and systematic drug abuse seems to have been his main one.

If you’re a fan of Dick (boom boom), then you’d do well to read how he styles many of his female characters on the one female presence in his life he spent the greatest time yearning for, a twin sister who died while they were infants. Divine Invasions ensures that the reader is well aware that Dick was a gregarious, amicable character who spent the better part of his life either falling in love with, seducing, or breaking up with women who resembled his idealised sister.

Starting to get intrigued by this guy? Then find a copy of the book. If you’re a fan it will make reading him a lot more fascinating. I’m already thinking of hunting around for an edition of The Man in the High Castle.

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