Review: VALIS

VALIS distills a lot of the themes that draw readers to Philip K. Dick. It’s an amazing mix of personal experience, paranoid fantasy, speculation, analysis, research, and gnostic epistemology. That sounds impossible to pull off, and it is. And it’s a classic.

It has its flaws. There are parts that are primarily street preacher rantings. There are parts that are droning exposition. There are parts that are pages of unorthodox interpretation of meticulous religious scholarship. There is a bit of internal self-therapy.

And yet, a shape emerges from this oddly formed piece of writing that wormed its way into my psyche and stuck there, probably permanently. Some of it is the creative interpretation of philosophical and Fortean ideas. Some of it is genuine insight into the workings of our imperfect minds. Some of it is the bold honesty of projecting his life onto the page. Dick presents ideas and connections between ideas in ways that ring powerfully when struck by conventional ideas.

That’s not a great capsule for people deciding whether to read it or not. I think if your path has led you to VALIS, you should read it and it may connect. If not, I wouldn’t go looking. It’s the kind of book that finds you.

Strongly recommended if it does ring your doorbell.

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