Sci-fi novelist (legend?), Phillip K. Dick’s third wife has released a “biography dressed like a memoir” about her time with the late writer. Sounds like an essential piece of writing for any Phillip K. Dick fan.
The book, while refraining from literary analysis, is invaluable for Dick fans and scholars because it’s told by the one person he was close to at an important turning point in his career. He wrote or developed roughly a dozen novels during his time in west Marin, including “The Man in the High Castle” (1962), his only novel to win the Hugo Award, science fiction’s biggest prize. While there were stretches of Dick’s life in which he had roommates, a series of girlfriends or a tight group of male friends, the Point Reyes years were his most domestic.
David Gill, who wrote the book’s introduction and runs an obsessive blog, calls this “Dick’s family man period.”
The writer Jonathan Lethem, who included five novels from this period in the Library of America anthologies he edited of Dick’s essential works, calls it Dick’s most fruitful time.
“The river of his literary ambitions — his interest in ‘respectable’ literature — joins the river of his guilty, disreputable, explosively imaginative pulp writing,” Mr. Lethem said in a phone interview. “It’s the most important passage of his career — more masterpieces in a shorter period of time.”
This was a remarkably placid interval for Dick — a writer associated with paranoia, political extremism, various kinds of madness and heavy drug use — at least outwardly.
Ms. Dick, who does not suffer fools, recalls Point Reyes Station as a cow town, literally. She remembers the years with Phil, as she calls him, as mostly idyllic. He helped her bring up her three girls from her marriage to Richard Rubenstein, a San Francisco poet who had died suddenly. The couple raised fowl and black-faced sheep. Each morning Dick would walk through a barbed-wire-and-wooden-post fence and across a grassy meadow to a cabin he called the Hovel, where he did much of his writing.
“The Search for Philip K. Dick” by Anne R. Dick is available now from Tachyon Publishing.