Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Summer on Speed-dial

As soon as July hits, summer starts speeding by, each day calling up the next, or the last, as if on speed-dial.

I'll think I have all the time in the world, and suddenly I'll be taking my daughter in for her sports physical and registering her for fall semester. Big housecleaning plans fall through. Summer writing deadlines come up too fast, like road signs. I almost miss the turn! And so on.

I almost titled this Summer on Speed, as I've begun the summer reading of Philip K. Dick, planned since a great boxful of books arrived from college friend Doug, and Dick apparently sometimes wrote on speed, or so says Wikipedia.

I read Ubik with a faint feeling of familiarity, as if indeed I'd read it some previous summer. Since it folds back in time and suspends reality, I couldn't be sure and I couldn't remember what might happen next, but I expected to be left hanging...and was.

That's often my reaction to metaphysical science fiction, a feeling of vague disappointment. You've got a good story going in a realm of utter fantasy, where you can make it all work out, Mr. Author. Why don't you? I know that's not quite fair. And I hate when it works out just to be parallel to an existing religion, usually Christianity.

What seems to me to be the greater challenge, to read or to write, is realistic literary fiction. At least when things don't quite work out there, I am affirmed in my own experience of life, and might have picked up a few pointers on how or how not to cope with that. Again, I read to learn how to live. In this world, in this life.

So that's my bias.

Nonetheless, I am now reading A Maze of Death, also by Philip K. Dick, and will take the VALIS trilogy with me, to share, on a beach week later this summer. I think my dad might like Dick, too, especially this A Maze, where the Author's Foreword states, "The theology in this novel is not an analog of any known religion. It stems from an attempt...to develop an abstract, logical system of religious thought, based on the arbitrary postulate that God exists."

We'll see.


Sandy Longhorn said...

Have you read "All Summer in a Day," Ray Bradbury's short story? If not, just google it and several online versions appear. Talk about a summer on speed.

Kathleen said...

Yes, I remember that one!

Zabrinah said...

I honestly feel like summer has already sped by and left me behind. I don't know what happened to June?! Where did it go!?!

Best wishes


Kim said...

I'm reading Widow for One Year by John Irving right now. There are several characters who are writers and there is much attention to the question of whether they are able to create characters who are not based on "real" people.

Kathleen said...

Thanks, Kim. I've read that book!

I think the characters in science fiction--UBIK included--might, some of them, actually be based on real, observed people in the author's life. But they are not set in the real world we live in together here; they live on another planet, or in the future, or in a world created by the author and manipulated, sometimes, by characters in the novel.

I enjoy science fiction, but I find I still prefer realistic literary fiction. Magic realism seems like a place between the two....