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Monday, June 23, 2008


I've been reading more frequently lately due to the 2 1/2 or so hours I have commuting, so I decided to check out Goodreads to get ideas for books to read. Seems like it's pretty good stuff so far. I've written one review, for A Scanner Darkly, the last book I finished. I'm currently at the beginning of Cormac McCarthy's The Road. Here's my review: A Scanner Darkly A Scanner Darkly by Philip K. Dick

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars "A Scanner Darkly" is a mind-bending alarmist tale about America in the 1960s. The story is vaguely auto-biographical, based loosely off Philip K. Dick's own experiences in the turbulent decade. The story documents the life of Bob Arctor, an undercover narcotics agent in the future-1990s. At work, Arctor responds to "Hank" as "Fred," an endlessly shifting coagulation of thousands of people. Through his drug use with housemates Jim Barris and Ernie Luckman, he rapidly devolves into just a borderline junkie. Fred, however, is tasked with monitoring the house, as the police believe that it is at the center of a drug-running operation. Specifically, Fred must focus on Arctor and his relationship with Donna Hawthorne, who is Arctor's main provider of Substance D, nicknamed "Substance Death" or "Slow Death." While in the course of monitoring Arctor, Fred becomes disjointed through heavy use of S.D., and is eventually removed from the case. Donna steps out of her role as "Hank" to bring Arctor/Fred to a New Path clinic, where he is to receive treatment for his fractured mind. At the very close of the book, however, Fred/Arctor discovers a series of small blue flowers, and his instincts kick in to deliver one of these flowers to Donna at the next yearly visit. The flowers are the source of Substance D, and New Path is the creator of the horrid drug they claim to rehabilitate from. The twists at the end create a unique literary view, especially as the "crosstalk" between Arctor/Fred takes stronger and stronger hold. In mid-sentence, German and Latin quotations will appear suddenly in the text, and the total confusion of character as Arctor/Fred rapidly degenerates, and finally is renamed "Bruce" by New Path, puts the reader in the position of having to struggle along with Arctor/Fred as to who he really is. As complex as the book is, it is not Dick's most complicated work. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep is a far more complex novel, and explores less the human psyche and more the very definition of humanity and empathy. View all my reviews.

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