Thursday, November 17, 2011

Umberto Rossi on Dick's Prose

Dick has a lot of interesting ideas but his writing is sloppy. Ok, sure. But let me remind ya that Dick is not a poet, he’s a novelist. And novels should be read as novels, not verse. A novelist is not a poet who happens to write in prose. We’re talking about a different match, a different ballpark, a different league, maybe a different sport. Surely Dick is no Ballard when it comes to metaphors and similes; he’s no DeLillo when it comes to finely crafted sentences and periods. He doesn’t have the rhythm of a Thomas Bernhard, nor the lush descriptions of a Thomas Hardy; he doesn’t have the verbal inventiveness of a Joyce, the bewildering verbal mix of a Céline or a Gadda. Sorry for the name-dropping, but it would like readers to understand that I’m no yahoo who has just read Dick and likes his stuff because he never tasted better food.

Having said all this, remember that a novel is not just finely crafted prose, or D’Annunzio would be the greatest novelist ever. Writing a novel is telling a story, recreating or creating a place, inventing people who you never met but which remain with you as if you had met them; it’s a matter of architecture, time, space, whatever. And when it comes to all the other skills, Dick had them like the Big Names. The tricks he plays with narrative times may be as subtle and beguiling as Proust’s; his characters are as imposing and memorable as Melville’s; and the architecture of his novels is sometime terribly complex and incredibly sophisticated… Try the Trasmigration of Timothy Archer, or VALIS, or Flow My Tears…

So we’re not dealing with a crap artist, and if he is (he told us, after all, ever read Dick’s Confessions of…), he’s one of those writers who can turn crap into gold–like Jim Thompson, for example. If I want prose, I go for Ballard; but if I want characters, I go for Dick any day of the week, any week of the month and any month of the year.
from a comment on this Ballardian post

read Umberto's book on PKD, probably the best book of PKD crit yet

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