Thursday, March 1, 2012

Review: The Man In The High Castle by Philip K. Dick

The Man in the High CastlePreface: I chose this book for my very first real life bookclub meeting ever. There was also much drinking (by me) at this meeting, so... if my review is less than coherent, well, actually, I think that's fitting, isn't it?

So, right. I chose this book blindly. Never read PKD before, although I have seen a few of the movies based on his work, and they are all interesting, to say the least. Having just read the amazetastic 11/22/63 by the King, I was in something of an alternate history mindset, and so TMITHC was chosen.

Nerves were on edge while I anxiously awaited the meeting to see what people thought. Hell, to see what I thought, even, because I finished it literally minutes before the meeting. Because I'm a slacker procrastinator who barely started it this week and read 90% of it between last night and today. So, I was pleasantly surprised to find that I enjoyed this quite a lot, even though "enjoy" isn't really the word that comes to mind first... maybe "pondered"? Let's try that one out: "I pondered this quite a lot." Yes. That works. I pondered, and I discovered that I arrived at many more positive feelings than negative, and thus the term "enjoyed" enters into my vocabulary. I'm pleased to announce that my bookclub-mates also arrived at ponder-positive assessments. Bookclub choice #1: Success!

I feel like this is the type of book that begs to be re-read. I don't feel like I really "got" very much of it... or maybe I do/did and I'm
just overthinking it? I don't know. Parts of it really frustrated and unnerved me, and I found myself angrily typing notes on my nook, like how "Lotze can go screw himself the shit" and "yay!! Baynes - show that shit what fear is!" and "seriously?!??!" (These are actual notes that I made while reading. That last one makes sense in context, I promise.). Parts of it were disturbingly unnerving in a "can't look away from the train wreck" kind of way. Fascinating and horrific at the same time.

There were some very interesting concepts in this book, and I thought that PKD did a fantastic job at capturing the different cultural nuances of both the Japanese and Germans. At first I was concerned that I wouldn't like the book because the writing was off-putting. Clipped sentences. No connecting words. Interrupted thought proc--. Then I realized that this was on purpose, after it switched for a bit, and I was actually really impressed. It worked well. The concept of Place was interesting to me, though not because I'd want to live with it. I would be Place-fucked because I can't be bothered to constantly worry about the formality of every single situation. Seriously, who has time to worry about whether the random person on the street is judging you for carrying your own bag, or walking when you could take a cab? Not me. No Place Becky, that's what they'd call me. But hey, at least I know my Place. Zing!

Anyway... I really enjoyed this book, and I'm looking forward to reading more PKD in the future. Yes indeedy. :)

1 comment:

  1. PKD is on my list of authors to read. He's one of the authors I felt related to from the selection of authors in the book "Write Like the Masters" by William Cane. So your review is quite interesting and seems to allude to some of the things that make PKD a master, according to Cane. Thanks for the review.