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Confessions of a Crap Artist Paperback – June 30, 1992
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"One of the most original practitioners writing any kind of fiction." -- The Sunday Times (London)
"Dick is entertaining us about reality and madness, time and death, sin and salvation.... We have our own homegrown Barges."-- Ursula K. LeGuin, New Republic
"Philip K. Dick's best books always describe a future that is both entirely recognizable and utterly unimaginable? -- The New York Times Book Review
From the Inside Flap
Confessions of a Crap Artist is one of Philip K. Dick's weirdest and most accomplished novels. Jack Isidore is a crap artist -- a collector of crackpot ideas (among other things, he believes that the earth is hallow and that sunlight has weight) and worthless objects, a man so grossly unequipped for real life that his sister and brother-in-law feel compelled to rescue him from it. But seen through Jack's murderously innocent gaze, Charlie and Juddy Hume prove to be just as sealed off from reality, in thrall to obsessions that are slightly more acceptable than Jack's, but a great deal uglier.
Top customer reviews
"I really like his work, but all his robots and futuristic tech terminology can get overwhelming after a while. I think you'd like 'Confessions of a Crap Artist' because it's based in contemporary time . It's regular fiction, not science fiction - but it's just as dark and disturbing as one of his apocalyptic future stories. Check it out."
With that, I ordered a copy and dug into it during a recent vacation.
We start off meeting Jack Isidore - He's the primary source of information for the events we're about to witness. Throughout his life, Jack has collected various items relating to science and science fiction. He's the square peg that doesn't fit into a round hole. He's been called many things: A nut. A screw-up. And most recently, a Crap Artist.
Fay Hume is Jack's sister. When she sets her sights on something, nothing can change her mind. She has a unique gift/curse of having long term plans but makes most of her decisions in the present for her immediate enjoyment. She's overly concerned with her societal image, and knows how to manipulate people into getting what she wants, whether it's a new car or a nice house in the suburbs.
Charley Hume - He runs the local iron works, and is married to Fay. He built an expensive house in the suburbs for them to live in. He's prone to fits of rage when asked to do anything he feels is beneath his dignity. He medicates his anger with trips to the local tavern.
Fay and Charley decide to take Jack into their home - and for a time, it seemed to work. Jack takes the housework responsibilities that Fay doesn't want to do, and Charley thinks are beneath him. Jack cares for their children [Elsie and Bonnie] and convinces himself that he's providing valuable services to the family in exchange for well-cooked steaks, and a roof over his head.
However, Jack begins to notice that his sister's idyllic family life is anything but. He starts to document everything and watches their lives spiral out of control while he cares for the children, tends to the animals and makes breakfast for everyone.
This is a fascinating story which is told to us through the viewpoints of Jack, Fay, Charley and Fay's lover, Nathan Anteil. The format is easy to get used to, each chapter is dedicated to one person's viewpoint and we learn more about each person through their interactions. I ended up finishing this book in two days, and enjoyed it thoroughly. In a strange way, it felt like I took a break from reading PKD because this was such a departure from his usual writing style. I wish he had written more novels like this.
Any review of this book would have to start out by stating that it is not, strangely for a Philip K Dick work, science fiction. This needs to be said straight out so as not to disappoint many of his fans who are interested in this book and would be shocked and disappointed to learn, too late, otherwise. The book is about a series of characters that leave much to be desired. One is a not particularly bright character who is easily manipulated. Another is his sister who is a gold digger, a very cold, manipulating and selfish woman who would throw anyone under the bus to get what she wants. A third the gold digger’s husband who is quite shallow and superficial. A fourth is a couple that comes into the story later on and who become a victim to the gold digger’s urges and needs.
In short, the book’s story and character development is, pretty much, middle of the road. These elements are not bad but then again they are not great either. Hence the three star rating. The same pretty much also applies to the audio reading of the story. It is not monotone and boring, on the one hand, but it is not filled with pathos, energy and enthusiasm on the other. Basically a three star rating.
In short, definitely not a bad book but then again definitely not a great book either. Not to be avoided but not to be eagerly embraced either.
It is dark and disturbing though. The Fay Hume character is based on Dick's third wife, who he had just married. The book's main obsessive theme is what a horrible woman she is. And the book goes to some hateful places, the parallels to Dick's own life and marriage being disturbing. Not for the first time, he analyzes himself deeply (and manages to prefigure future events in his writing). Keep in mind when you read this that Dick and his wife had sheep in their backyard, and you'll see what I mean about this book's evil side. This is a disturbing work by a man who wasn't entirely healthy; it's also a pretty good read by a guy who repeatedly turned his personal life situations and thoughts into art.
Most recent customer reviews
I was around ten back in the mid-50s).Read more
Confessions of a Crap artist is a fairly mainstream work of general fiction whose main interest is in...Read more