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What is a garage philosopher? That label comes from one of the editors of the fascinating if quirky musings of Philip K. Dick. Known to readers and movie goers as a science fiction writer, this long and winding tome follows a different road. A dropout from UC Berkeley, Dick pursued his own independent studies in philosophy and religion. His Exegesis begins in the mid-1970s following a mystical experience that refocused the author's life. The journals follow his attempts to not only chronicle that life-changing event but make sense of what appears to be nonsensical. Seeking answers that may not be there to find, he reads the Jerusalem Bible and the philosophical histories of Will Durant. His interests range from the Jesus Freak Christianity of the 1970s to the Buddhist and Vedanta philosophies that were popularized in his native California. Slowly he develops his own theological viewpoint that informs the novels he wrote shortly before his death, which came ironically just months before the movie Blade Runner made him famous. The editors, who distilled stacks and stacks of handwritten journal entries into this book, readily admit that some of Dick's insights are screwy but others are profound and almost every entry is compelling if for no other reason than the passion the writer puts into his work. I have listened to this wonderful reading by Fred Stella over and over for more than a year and am still amazed to find new insights. Philip K. Dick may sometimes seem to be from another planet but he is never boring.
23 of 24 people found this review helpful
Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?
Yes, as someone who has read over thirty of Dick's novels, I can honestly say that this book offers insights into not only The Valis Trilogy, and Radio Free Albemuth, but his earlier works as well.
Some may say that Dick is not only playing at being a prophet, but that he is actively revising the scope and the ideas that made his late work in the 60's - inducing such novels as Ubik, and the Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch - so accessible and popular. There was always an element of Judea-Christian guilt present in his earlier novels, and anyone who has read his stories from the 1950's knows that he blended a sort of
Who was your favorite character and why?
Dick himself. In many ways this is a solipsistic journey, something that Dick readily admits to in the Exegesis.
What does Fred Stella bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?
He is able to capture the tone of Dick's thoughts, and reads them with aplomb. He does well in switching from the narrative, to the editors note - here his tone is mostly academic, but at times irreverent.
What else would you have wanted to know about the authors’s life?
This is not a biography so much as look into a specific, and ever more increasing single aspect of Dick's life. I think the editors do well to include certain indispensable biographical details, but this really is not the focus of the work.
Any additional comments?
If you are a true fan, read it.
24 of 26 people found this review helpful
I am really sorry but after forcing myself to listen through sixteen hours of this self indulgent drivel I am forced to admit defeat and can stomach no more. If Dick's answer to life the universe and everything provided pointers for other human beings then maybe it might be worthy of completion.But these ramblings do nothing to enlighten the reader. In fact they simply provoke the response "for God sake haven't you figured it out yet!" Dick goes around in circles never realising the real importance of the event was that it wasn't important. The real significance of the event happening to him was, he isn't individually important. I can think of better uses for the RAM in my iPod! DELETE...
9 of 15 people found this review helpful