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I Am Alive and You Are Dead: A Journey Into the Mind of Philip K. Dick. Emmanuel Carrre: A Journey Inside the Mind of Philip K. Dick Paperback – 15 May 2006


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Product details

  • Paperback: 340 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing plc (15 May 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0747579717
  • ISBN-13: 978-0747579717
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.8 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 343,878 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

‘***** You’ll want to go back to the novels, or envy those about to read them for the first time’ -- Uncut

‘An imaginative biography … lends pathos and dignity to the life of a man’ -- Christopher Tayler, Sunday Telegraph

‘Compelling … This book should convert a few more readers’ -- Guardian

About the Author

Emmanuel Carrere is one of France's most critically acclaimed writers, the author of several screenplays and novels, including Class Trip and Moustache, as well as The Adversary, a New York Times Notable Book of 2001. He lives in Paris.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

32 of 32 people found the following review helpful By JD on 13 July 2005
Format: Hardcover
This is a fascinating read for anyone with an interest in sci-fi guru Philip K Dick. Not only does it provide a moving account of Dick's 53 years on earth, but explores in detail how the author's personal circumstances influenced his writings - and not just the ones you'd expect (i.e. VALIS).
The story is frequently disturbing - especially as it chronicles the most bizarre epoch of Dick's life, spent in a house with drug-dependent young people, who inspired the characters for his 70s masterwork A SCANNER DARKLY.
Negatives: The book does spend perhaps too much time on simply retelling the plots of various PKD novels (though some of this is certainly needed); photographs would have aided the account; a bibliography would have been good also.
Good Points: The biographer conveys events in a literary yet lucid written style and cleverly mixes demanding passages with lighter anecdotes.
I have never read anything as compelling as this about Philp K Dick.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Richard Beddard on 9 Aug. 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Writing a biography is one thing, getting inside Philip K Dick's mind quite another. In this novelisation of the science fiction writer's life the biographical facts are incidental, and reconstructing the amphetamine fuelled thoughts that drove him to write, divorce (four times?), attempt suicide (twice), and invent and inhabit his own fantastic and fear-filled worlds is M. Carrere's objective.

He succeeds brilliantly. It's astounding that in his paranoid delusional state Dick achieved so much, although paradoxically that's what drove him. It's a testament to M. Carrere's skill that his portrait is so lucid. His book could so easily have fallen apart, as Dick did.

If you've seen some of the films (Blade Runner, Minority Report, A Scanner Darkly) or read some of the books (The Man in a High Castle, The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch, Ubiq) reading this book will enhance your appreciation of them. You'll suddenly realise what Dick was getting at, where before you'd enjoyed the ride.

It left me wanting a 'proper' biography (which exists, it's by Lawrence Sutin). That's not a criticism, Dick's universe had little room for reality. He discards the bit players in his life when they cease to be relevant. Now I'd like to know about Dick, as they saw him. The 'real' Dick, perhaps.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Vittorio Caffè on 2 Sept. 2007
Format: Paperback
If you want to read a biography of Philip K. Dick please don't buy this book. The real autobiography is Lawrence Sutin's Divine Invasions. Carrére's book is mostly fiction. It's an avantpop novel where the author mixed facts about Phil's life with invention. It's very well written, and sometime reveals things about Dick's fiction that were ignored by critics and experts; it's very intelligent and a wonderful read; but it is NOT a biography. Some episodes, however moving or funny they may be, are completely invented (for example The Game of the Rat: there is no proof that Dick ever played it, while it's found in a brilliant essay by Thomas M. Disch on Dick, and it's probably Disch--not Dick--who had played that game). Having said that, one must praise Carrère for writing such a wonderful piece of postmodernist fiction, which shows great literary talent and an immense love for Phil Dick and his worlds.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Olly Buxton on 4 Oct. 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Quarter of a century after his death, Philip K. Dick's reputation and status is beginning to transcend mere founding fatherhood of modern science fiction and drift towards a more general greatness within the broader pastures of modern American literature.

Dick was exasperated about the perceived limitations of his genre while he was alive but before his untimely death in 1982 he had received industry acclaim for The Man in the High Castle in the sixties, but otherwise had garnered only cult following. Broader recognition beckoned - Ridley Scott's Blade Runner, based on Dick's altogether more complex Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? was in post-production. Fame and fortune beckoned, but by this stage, as Emmanuel Carrere makes plain, even if he had not suffered massive stroke, Philip K Dick was in no state, mental or physical, to enjoy or capitalise on it.

That Dick was a troubled soul is relatively well known, but Carrere's biography explores and extrapolates Dick's unstable mental state into his literature and life choices, which became increasingly bizarre as the Seventies wore on. Carrere sources Dick's discord in the death in infancy of his twin sister Jane, and was compounded by Dick's hypochondria - and has produced an effervescent and fascinating portrait.
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