Transcript for Jonathan Lethem on Philp K. Dick's Novels

Jim Fleming:  Jonathan Lethem is one of America's most admired literary novelists.  A winner of the National Book Critic Circle's Award, among others.  Not the kind of author you'd expect to champion a sci-fi writer.  But Lethem counts Philip K. Dick as one of his literary heroes.  So it's only fitting that Lethem is helping to keep Dick's legacy alive through his work as the editor of the Library of America's three-volume box set, "The Philip K. Dick Collection."  It's a set of 13 of Dick's best science fiction novels, as chosen by Lethem.  Dick is the first science fiction writer to be featured in the Library of America series.  Jonathan Lethem talks about how Dick viewed his career.

Jonathan Lethem:  Well, he was a very divided soul about whether or not he had accomplished what he initially set out to do as a writer because he had very strong ambitions as regard to the literary mainstream.  He wanted to become legitimate and worked very, very hard and quite hopelessly in the 1950s and early 60s, writing a string of realist novels that went unpublished at the time.  And when he finally gave up that attempt and, in a sense, put all of that energy completely into the science fiction, which he thought of as a kind of way to pay the bills or a kind of a slightly embarrassing side career, suddenly the books in the 60s become much much better because it's as though he has merged his mainstream ambition with his science fictional imaginative material.  And so he becomes, very quickly, a writer, you know, I think unprecedented in that field or anywhere.  Someone with a lot of, I guess you'd say, emotional and psychologically realistic impulses and very strong confessional impulses. I mean, he writes autobiographically again and again and again without it being obvious that he is doing so.  But also one of the most extraordinarily weird imaginations ever given to a literary writer. You know, you can look to Kafka or Borges or someone like, I don't know, Kobo Abe or Salman Rushdie.  There's really almost no one with as many simply wild ideas and wild images available to them as Dick had.  

Fleming:  And he thought about the psychological reasoning that went behind this. One of the things about science fiction in the 50s that seems more true now is that it didn't focus as much on the characters.  But Philip Dick really did focus on the characters in his novels and what they were feeling and thinking and how the world affected them.    

Lethem:  Well, I think that the form of character that Dick specialized in, truthfully, was almost a helpless symptom of his own personal intensity.   He wrote about angry, confused, overwhelmed, sensitive, yearning little men who felt at the mercy of this future that was coming and that he was describing.  And he did so because in many ways he was a very turbulent, very sensitive, very helpless individual and he poured himself onto the page and so that’s the kind of realism that he specialized in.

Fleming:  You have written about this, in fact, in your essay, "Crazy Friend."

Lethem:  Yes I have written about Dick again and again and never felt that I'd completely gotten got it right because he is such an important presence in the constellation of my own influences I could never stop thinking about him in a way and in some ways I'm essay by essay backing into writing some huge completely unsatisfying book about Philip K. Dick in all of these attempts.  And this is the most recent one

Fleming:  Well, there's a section that I'm hoping you will read for us, in fact, that is related to what you were just talking about.  It's how Dick saw his characters.

Leetham:  Yeah, let me try.  Dick tended to give his characters powerful but unsteady father figures.    Often resembling Dick's boss Herb Holiss at Art Music.  This is a shop that Dick worked at when he was briefly employed before becoming a full time writer.   Men both bullying and charismatic, generous and treacherous.  Another version of this archetype recurs in the films of Orson Welles, with the "big father" often played by Welles himself as Falstaff or Kane or Hank Quinlan.  I've fooled with this motif myself.  Most obviously in "Motherless Brooklyn"'s Frank Minna character.  But more often have defaulted in my writing to a primary relationship more like siblings or friends   Pairs linked by bonds of guilt, yearning, and mutual betrayal. This may be typical of the difference between the post war boomer generation of which Dick was part. Those whose parents were toughened by the Depression and World War 2.    And my generation, we who experienced the questing, self-revising boomers as our parents.  For myself and my friend Jake, there were times when our parents were less like parents and more like crazy friends. As a result our friendships involved a measure of mutual parenting.  Or at least, since mutual parenting was really impossible, the impulse to rescue one another from our parents' squishy legacies. And truly, for all my reverence, I never really looked at Philip K. Dick as a literary father.  More like a brilliant older brother whose brave and also sometimes half-assed forays charted wild paths for me to follow.  

Fleming:  He's an important figure in your life, isn't he?  He's part of the reason that you’ve gone full tilt into writing.

Lethem:  Yes, I first began writing fiction thinking that the only thing to do, the best thing to do, and taking it as my appointment in some way was to try to carry on his work.
I wanted to write books exactly like the ones he didn't live long enough to write. 
Which of course is a really odd assignment to give yourself given that he'd written over 40 of the things and probably wrote every kind of book that he was destined to. But I somehow saw his work as unfinished and it was going to be my job to carry it on.

Fleming:  Jonathan Lethe is a novelist.  He is also the editor of the Library of America's three-volume box set, "The Philip K. Dick Collection."  We will hear from Lethem again at the end of the program.

Comments for this interview


I visited many websites but the audio feature for audio songs existing at this website is actually superb.
uggs outlet cabazon

Hermes perfume usa
Cheap Replica Hermes Birkin Bags

Nearby Luo Tiancheng only face a slightly white, still stood straight.
moncler pas cher femme

Sortie haricots sacs uk聽hermes
Hermes Bag Outlet Online

"Tong Xuan territory monks!" I do not know who gasped in blurted
la Bernache du Canada Outlet

Chanel handbags outlet uk
Celine Handbag For Sale

Ahaa, its pleasant discussion concerning this post at this place at this website, I have read all that, so at this time me also commenting here.
peuterey hurricane wd tv

"Basaltic, mysterious baby, the next thing was handed down to the two of you." The old man turned to the two Temple Milky envoy said a post, less than two answer, just like a wave-like body rippling blurred, instant subduction stature.
[url=]piumini moncler donna[/url]

I really bring in our Clean cheap wow gold usually 95% frequently through cold weather. They are accordingly great so they put in pazazz in order to all of it My spouse and i bring about these people with, when We clothing these reduced or simply upwards they happen to be typically exceptional!

"The Gezhu words, Tianhe Road, Friends Do not trust the next?" Compass Gezhu eyebrows a pick, and some do not Yu said.
moncler outlet italia

財布 人気ブランド ランキング
小物 粘土
本革 バッグ 斜めがけ
フェリージ 財布 修理
ロレックス デイデイト アイスブルー
ビックカメラ iphoneケース
伊勢丹 新宿
chrome hearts 偽物
カルティエ 指輪 修理
ブルガリ 財布コインケース
クロエ ディラン ブログ!keyboard2320.html
ヴィトン マレ 肩ひも
動物実験 化粧品 おすすめ
マリメッコ バッグ 裏地
デッキシューズ ジュニア ホワイト

chloe 喪服
christian louboutin 銀座
イルビゾンテ 財布 ヌメ ヤキヌメ
財布 レディース ダズリン
バッグ メンズ amazon
トリーバーチ 財布 ハワイ価格
ディオール 268
靴底 ウレタン 接着剤
鳥栖プレミアム?アウトレットバーバリーシャツ レディース
布団カバー カップルお揃い
iphoneケース 手帳型 馬蹄
クラッチバッグ ニット 作り方
エアジョーダン コーデ 冬

The style the the vast majority of regarding any of these wow gold, inside the poisonous special my personal tip toes continually thought similar to that of I had going for a walk to do with confuses.

gucci 時計 7200l
バーキンタイプ キャンバス
バッグ 中身 最低限
アディダスiphoneカバー 池袋に売ってる!-swimming.html

カルティエ トリニティリング 売値
オークリー アウトレット 本物

バッグ ハンドメイド レシピ
オロビアンコ バッグ 大学生

プラダ 財布 ヌメ革
指輪 プレゼント ブルガリ
シャネルリボン アレンジ
ロレックス エクスプローラー 買取
成田空港 免税店 化粧品 ディオール
エルメスクリッパー 部品金具
ルブタン 銀座 価格
ディズニー 指輪 1万
横浜 ナイキ ウィンドブレーカー
ドレス ベルト 激安
ヴィトン 財布 ウォレットチェーン
コーチ ニューヨーク キーケース
グッチ バッグ 内側 修理
ヨーロッパ 化粧品 輸出

it's nice posting.

新大久保 化粧品 バイト
ベビー ニット 靴下 パリ
バッグ メンズ ブランド 革
ミュウミュウ 偽 三京商会
5c トリーバーチ
コーチ チャーリークロスボディー
エアジョーダン 白
オロビアンコ 名刺
ロレックス アンティーク オーバーホール
バッグ 人気 女性 20代
アディダス アメ村 通販
ランドセル 買取店 札幌
baby-g ベルト 修理
paul smith 財布 偽物
シャネル サスペンダー 韓国

Howdy! Someone in my Myspace group shared this website with us so I came to give it a look. I'm definitely loving the information. I'm bookmarking and will be tweeting this to my followers! Fantastic blog and terrific design.
north face womens parka clearance

Is that true? Ill spread this information. Anyway, nice posting.

バッグ メンズ パーティー
オンライン限定 メタリック レザー コイン ウォレット
アディダス 両腕色違うジャージ
コンバース オールスター ダサい
プラダ 財布 nap

ellegarden 指輪 英語
ジャスティン 指輪 ペアリング
財布 二つ折り おすすめ
ミュウミュウ マテラッセ lux
筒型 ポーチ 作り方
ポールスミス ハート 財布
腕時計 エルメス 見分け方
プラダ バッグ カナパ クリーニング
ベージュ ダウンベスト コーデ レディース
クロエ ストール いくら?

it's good posting.

that's nice posting.

Is that true? Ill spread this information. Anyway, nice posting.

that's good posting.

Is that true? Ill spread this information. Anyway, good posting.


Add new comment

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.