Last night Craig & I went to see the Adjustment Bureau, the film (loosely) based on Philip K. Dick's short story the Adjustment Team. The film was good, but it made me realise how long it has been since I last read anything by him (& as he is one of my favourite authors, this is a massive crime!).
My dad got me into PKD when I was in high school by giving me loads of his short stories. I got a bit obsessed & when I was in fifth year, I wrote my RPR (which is a review of personal reading, don'tcha know, & the scariest essay you have to do in high school) on PKD's story 'Of Withered Apples' & his search for god. It's a ridiculously good short story & only twelve pages - if you can find it then you should read it.
At uni, I kept it going and wrote my dissertation on PKD & Edgar Allan Poe (I think the official title was the breakdown of reality? Or something). Anyway. It was a bit of a panicked decision - we were meant to work on our dissertations for TWO YEARS and I didn't, realistically writing the whole thing within three weeks. But looking back (& now happy in the knowledge that I got my highest grade in fourth year uni from said dissertation) I think it was the best decision as it allowed me to just fall completely into his life, changing it from a boring attempt at critically dissecting his work, & I got to just gush about him.
One of the best books that I found while researching (aka, staying in the library until 3am) was "Philip K. Dick: In His Own Words" by Gregg Rickman. It was brilliant. The intro basically read - 'I had planned to write a biography of PKD & interviewed him for the project. But when it came to it, nothing I could say would beat the way he worded it.' & so, the book is essentially a massive transcript of their many interviews.
He's just incredible. & moving. & what touched me most was just how much he needed his characters. Quite often he would finish a full novel within two months, as he took amphetamines, & so got SO wrapped up in his characters that he would be practically destroyed when it was over.
See, these people are no longer freaks to me, I mean in the sense of being incompetent and fucking up their lives. Because I had completely fucked up my life, I was completely incompetent, and I loved my characters for their incompetence...I could never write down to my character.
What matters to me is the writing, the act of manufacturing the novel, because while I am doing it, at that particular moment, I am in the world I’m writing about. It is real to me, completely and utterly. Then, when I’m finished and have to stop, withdraw from that world forever – that destroys me. The men and women have ceased talking. They no longer move. I’m alone (qtd. in Williams).
He was rejected by the mainstream literary world for writing sci-fi (when no one was writing sci-fi) & struggled for money throughout his life. Now look at it. Disney's making another of his short stories into their Christmas 2012 film. It's mad!
Read anything you can find by him, if you can. He's incredible.