Nation of Tire Sale (tdaschel) wrote in philipkdick,
Nation of Tire Sale

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Humpty Dumpty (in Oakland)

this is the 7th of PKD "straight" novels i have any familiarity with (we're counting Timothy Archer here, one that usually - on account of chronology - gets umbrellaed differently...). criteria i'm using is ... How did i feel at the end? almost.always a weak PKD novel (Cosmic Puppets, Frolix 8) has *something* going for it 'cause we readers have some interest in the author's Psychology. fine ... and i didn't have for the first hundred pages or so much hope for this one. but in its own way it's as HOPELESS as the horrifying Maze of Death / and much else besides. and as a "topical" "race" novel, this one has far more to offer than either The Crack in Space or Ganymede Takeover). it is - how do the Cosmic Drug Brothers say? - organic.

Al Miller, used car salesman, is one of PKD's most profound, most charply etched Losers ... and that's saying a lot. the Greek wife of the old man who owns - and later sells - his car lot is the voice of the Great Books Series. in the America of that time she is a veritable font of wisdom. the book is straight West Coast Realism and completely fucking insane (inhabits the same dreary, backward falling world of Repo Man). a-and speaking of 80's classics,

Nor was that all. Why had they hired him? Why did they want him? Because he had somce from St. Helena; That was the extent of it. He had nothing else to offer that interested them, no talent or experience; only his rural background.
"Suppose it turns out I lied," he said suddenly. "Suppose I wasn't born in St. Helena; suppose I was actually born in Chicago."
Knight said, "We checked up."

...recalls Sam Lowry's first day on the job at Information Retrieval. Sam is aghast when the man at the desk ignores his proferred ID when he enters the building, allowing him to pass on through:

"But I could be anybody."
"No you couldn't, sir."

not interested in posting any "spoilers," but as a West Coast novel this one runs like a less smooth, more paranoid Raymond Chandler and is guaranteed to activate the pleasure-centers of all the French Marxists PKD was always turning into the Feds while zoning on a late-night bowl with a glass of wine (it was California / he didn't consider marijuana a drug).
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