Is anybody else getting a little tired of mainstream critics who suddenly discover PKD, or even more annoyingly, profess a long-standing familiarity with his work which for some reason has never been reflected in their writings until this coincidentally trendy moment?
Adam Gopnik is the latest to jump onboard the now-overflowing bandwagon, with a piece in the current New Yorker. At least he doesn't call Electric Sheep a masterpiece: he reserves that praise for Ubik. Which is, I suppose, defensible. My pick would be A Scanner Darkly.
But the content of Gopnik's piece speaks for itself, and for the most part it speaks thoughtfully and well.
However, he does make the following claim:
"Dick has also become for our time what Edgar Allan Poe was for Gilded Age America: the doomed genius who supplies a style of horrors and frissons. (In both cases, it took the French to see it; the first good critical writing on Dick, as on Poe, came from Europe, and particularly from Paris.)"
Okay -- please somebody point out to me what "good critical writing" on Dick came from Paris, or Europe, prior to the reams of critical analysis coming out of the US? Oh, by "good critical writing," I guess Gopnik means mainstream critics and not the crap that gets printed in genre publications.
[Update 8/15: I'm now convinced thanks to numerous posters and my own research that in fact Gopnik was not wrong . . . though he wasn't exactly right, either. It seems that European and English/American critics began wrestling seriously with Dick's work at approximately the same time, in the mid-60s, with substantive book reviews prior to that. The earliest piece of criticism was penned by an Italian in 1955. So I stand corrected! I do still have a problem with his use of "good" -- I don't quite know what that means. I did send an email to the New Yorker for clarification, only to be informed that Gopnik is on vacation until September, but will review his emails then. So perhaps we'll learn more then.]
posted by PaulW