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In Milton Lumky Territory [Hardcover]

Philip K. Dick
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

29 April 2008
Bruce Stevens is a young buyer for a big discount house when he meets the recently divorced Susan Faine. She suggests that he might like to manage her ailing typewriter store and he leaps at the suggestion. Then he realizes that Susan was his teacher when he was in fifth grade. In spite of that, they are married within days. And then the odd compulsions and instabilities start to interfere with their plans. Milton Lumky, the paper salesman in whose area they live, is uneasy about their future . . .
--This text refers to the Paperback edition.


Product details

  • Hardcover: 221 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books (29 April 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765316951
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765316950
  • Product Dimensions: 21.2 x 14.6 x 2.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 6,009,481 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Book Description

'An elusive and incomparable artist' Ursula K. Le Guin --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Philip K. Dick (1928-1982) was born in Chicago but lived in California for most of his life. He went to college at Berkeley for a year, ran a record store and had his own classical-music show on a local radio station. He published his first short story, 'Beyond Lies the Wub' in 1952. Among his many fine novels are The Man in the High Castle, Time Out of Joint, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? and Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mainstream 6 Mar 2006
Format:Paperback
During the 50s, PKD tried to establish himself as a mainstream writer. His litterary skill and his eye for details, empathy for the common man and ability to associate and connect situations served as well in the mainstream as in the SF-field. Yes, we do miss the opccasional androids and blob from outer space, but in this novel as in many of the other we get to experience the unique PKD "psycho-analytic" perspective tearing through the fabrics of every day life and relationships between common men and women. If you're skeptical to SF, I use to say that PKD could be a good starting point, since his similarly fantastic perspectives bridge the gap of the genres. Now, regarding this novel, if you're a hardcore SF-fan who never reads common fiction, this is a good starting point. After all, the legend only wrote 8 mainstream novels, and everyone should try a couple of them out.
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Amazon.com: 3.8 out of 5 stars  9 reviews
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Worth Your Time 10 Oct 2003
By Steve West - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I'd advise only reading this if you're like me, you enjoy Philip K. Dick's writing, you've read a fair few of his books including 'Confessions of a Crap Artist', and you hope to read all his works (and steer clear of stuff like 'The Ganymede Takeover').
'In Milton Lumky Territory' may not be as exciting and quirky a read as 'Confessions of a Crap Artist' but it is a good read nonetheless and it's a shame that this was languishing as a manuscript on one of Dick's bookshelves until after his death.
It's set in the 50's, it has a purposeful main character in his mid-twenties who has that same horrible awareness of bad interpersonal situations that can be found in 'Confessions of a Crap Artist'. It's a good quality novel that you'll look back on and like.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Attention must be paid 8 Jun 2004
By Doug Mackey - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This realist novel, written in 1958 and not published till 1985, is a concise, ironic story, set in Idaho, of the marriage of Bruce, a young man, to Susan, his former fifth grade teacher, and his devastating experiences in trying to run her business. Milton Lumky, a dumpy, red-faced salesman with a penchant for outrageous remarks, is not the main character in the novel, but he has center stage whenever he is on. Dick wrote In Milton Lumky Territory under the influence of Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman. Both works deal with the tragedy of the common man, making the point, as Dick quoted in an interview, that "attention must be paid to this man." Like Willy Loman, Milton Lumky is a man of essential goodness who has been beaten down by what he has come to see as the degrading nature of his job. His Idaho is a provincial world of small towns, small minds, and a certain unrelieved nastiness. The only reprieve from the dreariness of this barren land and culture is to be found in the felicities of the heart, which Bruce and Susan take refuge in at the end when they move out of Milton Lumky territory.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Who is Milton Lumky? 2 May 2008
By Richard Brookes - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The question is: Who is Milton Lumky? I read Dick's novel expecting to find out but came to the end without this question being answered. OK, so maybe Milton Lumky is not so much a character in this novel as device concocted by Dick to reveal the persona of Bruce "Skip" Stevens, a young man trying to find his way in life. Within a few pages we see that Bruce is immature socially and intellectually. Not much more is revealed about Bruce even with the, sometimes painfully, detailed interaction with Milton Lumky. So we are still left with a lot of questions. But... perhaps this is exactly as Dick intended.
Even though there is almost no action in this story, the book draws you along with expectations and a kind of morbid curiosity. Bruce Steven's life unfolds as many others do, with a purposeless but inexorable impetus. As things turn sour for the young man, we can even sympathize to an extent, although Bruce is not the most engaging fictional character. I see this novel as a logical offshoot of the Existentialism of the 40's and 50's. It owes more to Sartre and Kerouac than Arthur Miller.
And the end is a shocker. Not because of any tragic or outrageous happening but because it seems totally contrived and, well, ersatz. I think it is Dicks raised middle finger to the literature of the day and perhaps to the reader that is expecting the happy resolution of the conflicts in the story. It provides the happy resolution in an unbelievable setting.
"In Milton Lumkey Territory" is in some ways unsatisfying and often troublesome to the reader but I believe that Philip K. Dick would not have it any other way. If you don't ponder circumstances in your own life when reading about Bruce Steven's, then there is something missing in your existence.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Please believe me Lord Wittgenstein 5 Mar 2011
By Cassandra - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
First read all Dick's science fiction starting with Ubiq and then Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch. Then read his many post-death published works (huh?- how did that happen?). Then read In Milton Lumky Terrritory and realize that it was all there at the beginning but you couldn't have noticed it then. The difficulty, the humor, the unknowability- the real conflated with the unreal and surreal- the confusion of how reality such as it is, is (how is it?). Life, space, time. How all is a symbol for all and there is no such thing as itself. As you read Lumky realize its conection to the scene in Ubiq where a table disappears and a paper falls to the earth with the word' 'table' written on it. Then at the end of your reading admit that you don't know whether all the time you've existed did exist or only seemed to (but to whom?). Horselover Fat(see Valis)- the true genius of 20th century letters. Oh if you've time- see the massive number of movies based on his work- from Alien to Bladerunner to Eternal Sunshine to Minority Report to Vanilla Sky to The Truman Show to Total Recall to Scanners to Next ... to Black Swan(?) He's great- good luck- but it will take work and many years. Too bad if you don't live that long but at least you started.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Danger of Too Much Reality 20 May 2009
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Would someone please explain to me how Philip K. Dick got so knowledgeable about the life and experiences of traveling salesmen? His biography is very clear; he supported himself (not well, but sufficiently) by his writing for just about his entire adult life and rarely held a day job. Even when he did, it was a stationary employment - he worked for some time as a clerk in a classical-music record store, for example. So where did he pick up the sharp detail of where a traveling salesman might go, who he might see, what he might think about? It's all right there in this novel, and for all I know it might be totally inaccurate, but it sure seems real.

PKD was, of course, a master of the imagination in the science fiction realm, and we can see with "In Milton Lumky Territory" that his imagination was no less powerful in mainstream fiction. Take, for example, the fact that the book's setting restricts itself primarily to small-town Idaho; I have been unable to confirm that PKD ever even visited that area, but it rings true all the way from the weathered porches to the yellow-winged flies. All the more impressive, this, when you consider that almost all of the man's work is set either in California or on some other planet. There are also the thoughts and actions of Bruce Stevens, the novel's hero, as he considers balance sheets, job lots, consignments and franchises, trying to make a go of it as a store owner.

Unlike many of PKD's stories, this one is pretty simple and straightforward, so there's no need to go into a lot of detail. Suffice to say that Bruce, a traveling buyer for a discount warehouse who talks a good postwar American Century line, stumbles into a relationship with Susan, his old fifth-grade teacher of all people. The two of them buy out her partner in a kind of 1958 version of Kinko's (carbon paper rather than copiers), and Bruce starts looking around for something to sell. That's when he meets Milton Lumky.

Milton is a paper salesman who travels all over the Pacific Northwest and as far inland as Boise, which means that Bruce is - you got it - in Milton Lumky territory. No big deal, you might think. Guess again; here's where PKD heads off into one of his patented paranoid flights of fancy. Turns out that life in Milton Lumky territory is a constant struggle with decay, disease, long hours on the road in the days before the Interstate Highway system, and of course the possibility of economic and marital ruin. The most surprising thing is this: When PKD, in his brief introduction, insists that "In Milton Lumky Territory" is a funny and upbeat book, he's quite right. You find yourself liking these people and wishing them well, despite - or maybe because of - their less-than-kindly ways with each other.

Of course, as in any decent novel, there's conflict galore in Bruce's story. He's gearing up to run a small business, after all, and building a new relationship with an older woman at the same time. This would be complicated enough without Milton Lumky, who is old, sick, dissatisfied with his life and profession, jealous of Bruce's relationship with Susan, full of unsolicited business and personal advice, and yet seems genuinely interested in seeing Bruce succeed. As Bruce makes his way from Boise to Reno to Seattle and back on the lonely Pacific Northwest roads, you can see him beginning to turn into a Milton Lumky himself, only perhaps without the older man's more generous impulses. Uh-oh.

So what's so funny and upbeat about this story? That depends on how you look at it. PKD, as always, loves these characters and can smile at their more juvenile tendencies - the way they stumble through their lives, changing their minds about pretty nearly everything, giving each other the silent treatment when they don't get their way, seeking petty revenge for perceived slights, and yet really needing each other, for company if nothing else. In reading "In Milton Lumky Territory," you're watching a group of people trying very hard to grow up. It's not always enlightening, but it can be quite moving at times.

Besides, like many children, they get themselves into such scrapes. Wait until you read about what happens to Bruce at the beginning of the story, when he drops in on an old girlfriend hoping for some action.

And then there's the curious influence of PKD's interest in paranoia on what seems like a perfectly innocent mainstream tale. What, after all, do you do when you have to spend hours on the road just on the off chance of finding something you can make a living at? You start to daydream, of course. If you're not careful, you end up like Bruce; in this novel we can see him beginning to take his darker daydreams seriously, and attributing evil motives to pure coincidence. Then along comes Milton, much more advanced on the same dangerous route, and you see what's so painful about getting too deep into Milton Lumky territory.

Turns out that PKD always knew how thin is the line between imagination and lunacy, not only on Mars, but also in whitebread Middle America. His fans know that in his later years his mental processes got a little dicey. You have to give him credit, though; in his mainstream work and in his sf, he dove into the world of the imagination and came up brilliant. Looks like he was even braver than we thought. For all their complaining and misbehavior, so are these characters.

Benshlomo says, We all want to avoid trouble, but that's where the treasure is.
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