Sunday, January 10, 2016

Review- "The Search for Philip K. Dick" and "Penelope of the Mind" by Anne R. Dick

Finally dusting off this blog to start posting again!  I've got some more material to share but in the mean time, here's a couple of long-overdue book reviews.  I've got several more books by Anne Dick (the third wife of science fiction writer Philip K. Dick) to review but I'm starting here.

The Search for Philip K. Dick is a genuine masterwork of biography.  Starting with the story of how this erudite, romantic man entered her life and then passed through it like a churning storm of neurosis, addiction, and misplaced passions, Anne goes far beyond her personal experience and makes a genuine, moving attempt to understand Phil rather than simply judging him as some of his lesser biographers have.  Through literally decades of interviews, conversations, and recollections from friends, family, coworkers, associates, neighbors, and acquaintances, she masterfully pieces together about as complete a picture of the man behind the self-made myth as anyone could hope to do.  The biography covers not only his fateful years in Point Reyes Station, but his earlier years in Berkeley, as well as his time at a prep school in Ojai and his later years in Fullerton and Santa Ana.  This is definitely one of the best if not the best biographies ever written about PKD.  I would highly recommend this to PKD fans, literature scholars, and collectors of interesting biographies.

Penelope of the Mind is an anthology of poetry that covers the subjective aspect of Anne and Phil's relationship, and contains a number of autobiographical poems that are bound together by the recurring theme of Penelope, wife of the long-missing Odysseus from Homer's Odyssey.  Through colorful imagery that ranges from pure whimsy to dark humor, Anne Dick makes for a compelling Penelope.  Ever present is the spirit of her Ithaca, the idyllic countryside of Marin County.  Her ties to the land run perhaps as deep or deeper than the life-changing relationship that forms the core of this anthology's theme.  Anne's verse is skilful and her language forward and unpretentious, but vivid and imaginative.  I look forward to reading the other anthologies Anne has written including Space and Love and Iliad Poems.

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