Mankind's only alternative 14   NOV.   18  
Mankind's only alternative
Welcome
MAIN  RUSSIA  WAR NERD   [SIC!]  BAR-DAK  THE VAULT  ABOUT US  RSS
 
 
EXILE BLOGS

The Fall of The eXile For all those wondering what the "Save The eXile Fundrasier" banner is all about, here it is as simply as it can be phrased: The eXile is shutting down.
June 11, 2008 in eXile Blog

War Nerd: War of the Babies in Taki's Magazine The War Nerd talks about babies, the greatest weapon of the 20th century.
May 28, 2008 in eXile Blog

Kids, Meet Your President A website for Russian kids to learn all about President Medvedev's passion for school, sports and family.
May 22, 2008 in eXile Blog

Cellphone Democracy Cam If this girl was exposed to Jeffersonian democracy...
May 20, 2008 in Face Control

More Classy B&W Dyev Photos Yet another hot Russian babe imitating the Catpower look...
May 20, 2008 in Face Control

Proof That Genetic Memory Is Real! Sure, the Ottomans shut down the Istanbul Slavic slave markets centuries ago...
May 15, 2008 in Face Control

Russia's Orthodox Church Youth Outreach Program The priest is going, "Father Sansei is very impressed with grasshopper Sasha’s...
May 15, 2008 in Face Control

More Classy B&W Club Photos w/Russian Dyevs We took the Pepsi Challenge here...
May 15, 2008 in Face Control

Blogs RSS feed

Book Review May 29, 2002
 
Summer Reading Guide
By John Dolan Browse author Email
 
 

1. The Best of All: Homage to Philip K. Dick

I set out to praise really good writers in this column, and I'm finding it difficult. It's much easier to damn bad books than to praise good ones; you almost want to keep the best books to yourself, because the prospect of seeing them rejected -- or worse, loved for the wrong reason -- is so terrible. But even a reviewer who specializes in damning the bad has to praise the good, if only to show the standard the bad books fail to reach. Philip K. Dick

I've made a list of the books I really treasure, and discovered something surprising: The "classics" I was taught at the university don't seem particularly interesting or impressive now. None of them make my list. They were literature for social climbers -- books you could name with pride, whether you really loved them or not.

Take Joyce. Is Ulysses a good book? I guess it is. I don't want to read it again. Dubliners was good -- you'd pick it up and keep reading even if you never heard of the author -- but Ulysses? You wouldn't read that except at college. Reading and trying to like Ulysses was like trying to like abstract painters: you could only do it if you remembered that these painters had started out painting some very good representational work. In the same way, you could only keep yourself reading Ulysses by reminding yourself that Joyce COULD write well when he wanted to, like he did in Dubliners.

That excuse doesn't hold for some of the "classics" I read in the delusive excitement of young adulthood. Some were just plain bad. Virginia Woolf comes to mind here -- a very bad writer, period. But most now seem simply dull, workmanlike writers, not bad but not worth remembering. Bellow, Styron -- try-hards, white running backs with lotsa hustle and little talent. Beckett...a great writer, I guess, but I'd sooner chop weeds by the freeway than read him again. I feel the same way about many of the "great" Russians, like Byely. Petersburg is a great novel, they say...but I read it as homework, and that's all it ever was.

Other great writers, read at first with a provincial's desperate desire to share the cool people's tastes, now seem repellent -- so evil that the question of their talent doesn't even arise. Take Tolstoy -- do the arbiters of taste still consider him a great writer? I don't keep track; all I know is that I despise him. I don't care if he's great. He gives me the creeps.

The books that live most vividly in my mind now are the few I loved on my own, before the universities told me what to like. That's why I have to place Philip K. Dick at the top of my list of great writers: because I loved his stories before I had any idea who wrote them, and love them just as much now, when I no longer care about impressing the cool people.

I learned to love Dick's stories before I ever knew his name.

There's a brief, happy phase in late childhood, after you've learned to master your body and keep your savage agemates at bay, when you begin to look excitedly around the world and choose your colors. It lasts only a little while; then the golden anvil of puberty is dropped on you from the 99th floor, and you're staggering around again like an idiot, your true tastes lost in the hopeless desire to like what the mean little coolsters like.

I spent the hot summer afternoons of that brief late-childhood bliss at the Pleasant Hill public library, reading every science-fiction anthology I could find. Out of the hundreds of stories there were a half dozen which were burned into my head forever. I didn't know or care who wrote them. But 20 years later, when I went looking for them, I discovered that all those stories were the work of Philip K. Dick. Philip Dick's Grave

Dick was the great writer of my time and place: Northern California in the hippie days. Dick wrote about the dissolving world of California before and after the great quake called the Summer of Love. He was, among other things, the best journalist to cover that Big Bang. The other contenders didn't have a clue: Joan Didion with her campy LA noir; Tom Wolfe and his finicky overdressed fussing....Even Hunter S. Thompson missed the fiercer Tolkienian-Jihad overtones. Only PKD really got it right. And he told that story so many ways, in 47 novels (at least). He wrote about every moment on the great amphetamine trajectory; he took the marital chaos and drug shivers of his friends and made them great myth.


SHARE:  Del.icio.us  Digg  My Web  Facebook  Reddit

Browse author
dolan@exile.ru
 
 
FROM THE VAULT
Iggy & the Stooges
The Fortnight Spin :

HALT! - the eXile Guide To State Repression :

New Hookah Flavors Hit Moscow :
Elections
The Triumph of Hope Over Experience: Hillary vs. Obama :
 

 
 
 
LATEST ARTICLES

Save The eXile: The War Nerd Calls Mayday
Editorial
The future of The eXile is in your hands! We're holding a fundraiser to save the paper, and your soul. Tune in to Gary Brecher's urgent request for reinforcements and donate as much as you can. If you don't, we'll be overrun and wiped off the face of the earth, forever.

Scanning Moscow’s Traffic Cops
Automotive Section
We’re happy to introduce a new column in which we publish Moscow’s raw radio communications, courtesy of a Russian amateur radio enthusiast. This issue, eXile readers are given a peek into the secret conversations of Moscow’s traffic police, the notorious "GAIshniki."

Eleven Years of Threats: The eXile's Incredible Journey
Feature Story By The eXile
Good Night, and Bad Luck: In a nation terrorized by its own government, one newspaper dared to fart in its face. Get out your hankies, cuz we’re taking a look back at the impossible crises we overcame.

Your Letters
[SIC!]
Russia's freedom-loving free market martyr Mikhail Khodorkovsky answers some of this week's letters, and he's got nothing but praise for President Medvedev.

Clubbing Adventures Through Time
Club Review By Dmitriy Babooshka
eXile club reviewer Babooshka takes a trip through time with the ghost of Moscow clubbing past, present and future, and true to form, gets laid in the process.

The Fortnight Spin
Bardak Calendar By Jared Lindquist
Jared comes out with yet another roundup of upcoming bardak sessions.

Your Letters
[SIC!]
Richard Gere tackles this week's letters. Now reformed, he fights for gerbil rights all around the world.

13 Toxic Talents: Hollywood’s Worst Polluters
America By Eileen Jones
Everybody complains about celebrities, but nobody does anything about them. People, it’s time to stop fretting about whether we’re a celebrity-obsessed culture—we are, we have been, we’re going to be—and instead take practical steps to clean up the celebrity-obsessed culture we’ve got...

 
 
 

    MAIN    |    RUSSIA    |    WAR NERD     |    [SIC!]    |    BAR-DAK    |    THE VAULT    |    ABOUT US    |    RSS

© "the eXile". Tel.: +7 (495) 623-3565, fax: +7 (495) 623-5442
E-mail: office@exile.ru