"The book you hold in your hands is a very peculiar book. In it I have tried to depict the life of Philip K. Dick from the inside, in other words, with the same freedom and empathy--indeed with the same truth--with which he depicted his own characters."
"One day, a new young woman rode into his life, on the back of a Harley-Davidson driven by a guy covered in tattoos. 'Donna,' like almost everyone else who appears in this chapter, has been extrapolated from a character in A Scanner Darkly...The real Donna had another name--as did others I write of here--which she has asked not to be used in print."
"Another time, Phil became convinced that Donna was a narc. He confronted her. She replied that she understood why he would think that. In their world it was the kind of thing that was entirely possible."
"Another time, sitting down to drink a cup of coffee that someone had made for him, Phil couldn't let go of the idea of how easily it could have been laced with a potent strain of acid that would set an unstoppable film rolling in his head, a film that would last his entire life."
"Another time, Phil convinced himself that the house was under twenty-four hour surveillance. He knew the phone was tapped, and even if it wasn't, basic prudence dictated that one act as though it were."
These cuts are from one chapter and is very much the world of A Scanner Darkly. Is it fair to mix the life with the works? Maybe not entirely and maybe you would want--or want also--a different sort of biography. But this was fascinating, and it is a very phildickian thing to do.
Could you read the book if you didn't already know Philip Dick pretty well? I'm not so sure about that. As a general rule I only read author biographies for authors I've read a substantial amount of the work. That might be an especially good rule here, I suspect.
The books Carrère looks at in depth:
- Eye in the Sky
- Time Out Of Joint
- The Man in the High Castle
- Martian Time-Slip
- Now Wait For Last Year
- The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch
- Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
- Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said
- A Scanner Darkly
- The Transmigration Of Timothy Archer
- The Exegesis