Browsing Arts and Letters Daily yesterday I noticed this interesting article in the New Yorker about Philip K. Dick.

Thing about PKD is, I really want to like his writing, but just can’t. It’s too hectic, too crazy, and too obviously fueled by amphetamines. In short, it’s like reading some great ideas banged out by a 12 year old who’s barely managed to sit still long enough to channel all that pre-pubescent energy into some whacked-out ideas.

Like I say, I want to like his novels but even the ‘greats’ like Ubik are too crazy, too poorly constructed, and too plain annoying for me to love them. Let me then make my apologies to his fans, and thank the author of the New Yorker article.

Let’s take Ubik as the example. It is an interesting book, doubtlessly. It contains some great ideas, like a girl with psionic power that allows her to change the past. The possibilities of that idea is endless, and great. But PKD is so wrapped up in another storyline that he ends up partially writing her importance to the plot out. Well, that, or he was too out of it to develop the possibilities.

Fortunately, the New Yorker partially agrees with me. It argues that PKD is the kind of writer you discover as a teen or young adult, and think it’s the greatest thing ever. Kind of like suddenly discovering early Stones, or Zeppelin, or more specifically, Marley. But, once you move on in years, the stories become a little shallow, poorly constructed, and more importantly, poorly written.

It was a relief to read it. I worried I was the only person in history to thinks PKD is actually a gifted hack. And a freaking crazy one to boot.

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