“Prose both scabrous and poetic.” – Publishers Weekly. “Proust meets Chandler over a pint of Guinness.” – Spectator. “A sheer pleasure.” – Tana French. “Among the most memorable books of the year, of any genre.” – Sunday Times. “A hardboiled delight.” – Guardian. “Imagine Donald Westlake and Richard Stark collaborating on a screwball noir.” – Kirkus Reviews. “A cross between Raymond Chandler and Flann O’Brien.” – John Banville. “The effortless cool of Elmore Leonard at his peak.” – Ray Banks. “A fine writer at the top of his game.” – Lee Child.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Working-Class Literature: Or, Hurrah For Dickheads

‘Blade Runner’ is one of my favourite movies, regardless of which version I happen to be watching, but I’d never read the novel, DO ANDROIDS DREAM OF ELECTRIC SHEEP? For a variety of reasons, but mainly because I’d heard and read that Philip K. Dick was brilliant on ideas, but not such a great writer – this despite our favourite Dickhead’s testimony. Anyway, I started into ANDROIDS about a week ago, and was loving it until I had to put it down halfway through, to read a book for review. Dick isn’t the finest stylist ever to write prose, but on first reading he reminds me a lot of Jim Thompson – crude in places, for sure, but utterly compelling.
  Anyway, on the day I had to put away ANDROIDS I was browsing through a second-hand bookshop and came across I AM ALIVE AND YOU ARE DEAD: A JOURNEY INTO THE MIND OF PHILIP K. DICK by Emmanuel Carrère. It’s terrific stuff, and I’ve been dipping in and out all week. Dick wrote sci-fi, of course, but tinged with crime fic, and this little nugget in particular grabbed my attention. It’s from when Carrère is covering the early part of Dick’s career, circa 1955, with the McCarthyite anti-Communist purge in full spate and Dick’s then wife Kleo under scrutiny by two FBI agents who have come to visit:
No question about it: had he been one of the witch-hunters, Phil wouldn’t have bothered with fashionable East Coast intellectuals or Hollywood scriptwriters who wore their Communist sympathies on their sleeve; they were red herrings. He would have kept his eyes on the true manipulators of public opinion, the guys working down where it counted, turning out fodder for the masses, working-class literature that intellectuals affected to disdain.
  ‘Working-class literature’. Has a nice ring to it, don’tcha think?

1 comment:

Miss Hyde said...

Hi I'm french, fond of Irish culture, and this is a book written by a french writer who's a big fan of Ph.K Dick. One of the best account i have read of what the life of a genius ( and WITH a genius ) can be !!! I like your blog and have read and discovered many authors through it. Mine is in french,( about ireland ) but i will enclose the link of yours if you don't mind.Emmanuel Carrere is indeed a great writer, don't know, though if some of his other books have been translated in english. Hope i didn't write with too many mistakes. Sorry , english isn't my native language.