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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars What is normality?
That's the question at the back of this non-SF book, which was the first of Dick's mainstream novels to find an audience, in the mid 70s. The crap-artist of the title is Jack Isidore, gatherer of bits of bizarre information, and chronicler of the lives of the 'normal' people around him. But as Jack sees these people abuse and hurt each other he comes to wonder if...
Published on 18 Feb. 1999

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3.0 out of 5 stars Meh
I give it 3 stars only because I love Philip K Dicks sci-fi novels and short stories so much that reading just a normal fiction novel was a bit of a let down. I think my brain couldn't get over the fact that the story would not involve a psychopathic android or some futuristic opiate. However, if you start off knowing it will be a little blander than usual you can...
Published 8 months ago by Midge


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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars What is normality?, 18 Feb. 1999
By A Customer
That's the question at the back of this non-SF book, which was the first of Dick's mainstream novels to find an audience, in the mid 70s. The crap-artist of the title is Jack Isidore, gatherer of bits of bizarre information, and chronicler of the lives of the 'normal' people around him. But as Jack sees these people abuse and hurt each other he comes to wonder if normality is all it's cracked up to be. The reader, dragged along by Jack's weird, skewed vision of the world, comes to sympathise with him. Often disturbing, often darkly funny, this is Dick at his most real. If you thought he was just another pulp sci-fi writer, albeit a good one, this is the book to shatter your illusion.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars PKD's Best Mainstream Novel, 10 Mar. 2011
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This review is from: Confessions of a Crap Artist (GOLLANCZ S.F.) (Paperback)
"Jack Isidore is a 'crap artist', a collector of crackpot ideas and worthless objects. His beliefs make him a man apparently unsuited for real life and so his sister, an edgy and aggressive woman, and his brother-in-law, a crass and foul-mouthed businessman, feel compelled to rescue him from it. But, observed through Jack's murderously innocent gaze, Fay and Charley Hume are seen to be just as obsessed as Jack. Their obsessions may be a little more acceptable than Jack's but they are uglier. And, in the end and thanks to Jack's intervention, theirs lead to tragedy . . ."
-- from product review

Written in 1959 but not published until 1975, Confessions of a Crap Artist was the only mainstream novel published during Dick's lifetime. It is an intriguing look at what it is to be normal set within the milieu of 1950s California. Disturbing and funny this is an excellent read.

If you are new to Philip K Dick's work I would also recommend the Science Fiction novels (which generally seem to be regarded as among his best):

Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?: The novel which became 'Blade Runner' (S.F. Masterworks)
Ubik (S.F. Masterworks)
A Scanner Darkly (S.F. Masterworks)
The Man In The High Castle (S.F. Masterworks)
Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said (S.F. Masterworks)
The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch (S.F. Masterworks)

If you fancy another of PKD's mainstream works, you might like to try Mary and the Giant (Gollancz S.F.) or In Milton Lumky Territory (Gollancz S.F.).

Also of interest may be the excellent biography of Philip K Dick Divine Invasions: A Life of Philip K. Dick (Gollancz S.F.)
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5.0 out of 5 stars The first PKD I ever read..., 8 Dec. 2009
By 
Lexx (Worcestershire, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Confessions of a Crap Artist (GOLLANCZ S.F.) (Paperback)
... and again the most recent. Yes, I dug this out of my shoe-box containing my 1990's US Vintage editions ( the ones with the goofy computer art covers ).

Well, I have to say, my student self had great taste, because this is a brilliant book. It perfectly captures the rot that began to set in to affluent post-war America. In fact, this book is so sharp, it reminds me of the recent TV series MAD MEN, in its depiction of that side of America.

It's hard to believe that PKD's forte was actually science fiction. This has no sci-fi whatsoever, yet it's utterly compelling, and beautifully written. The characterisation is superb. I'm glad I revisited it, and it makes me want to read all the PKDs that aren't yet in my collection.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Meh, 20 Sept. 2014
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I give it 3 stars only because I love Philip K Dicks sci-fi novels and short stories so much that reading just a normal fiction novel was a bit of a let down. I think my brain couldn't get over the fact that the story would not involve a psychopathic android or some futuristic opiate. However, if you start off knowing it will be a little blander than usual you can appreciate the writing. It is nice to have all the main characters aspects given through the book, so you can truly get a feel for how weird they actually all are. Ultimately the ending is rather disappointing, not really going anywhere and quite normal.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Confessions of a pain in the neck., 4 Jun. 2014
By 
Chris Whitaker "Chris" (Crawshawbooth,Lancs UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Confessions of a Crap Artist (GOLLANCZ S.F.) (Paperback)
I read this years ago and decided to buy a newer, less-dog-eared copy to take to Greece with me in 2010. I was waiting patiently all through the book for things to get going but I was left there, at the pool, a bit disappointed. PKD's sci-fi novels CAN BE a world away from his novels about people pottering about in America, the main character is a pain in the neck, he doesn't care... but he does have some deep feeling for things that don't really matter to the outside world... I am still glad I bought it, I won't give away the ending, read it.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Haunting,enjoyable, a story that will stick with the reader., 29 Sept. 1998
By A Customer
Those familiar with Dick's work will enjoy this. And new-comer's to Dick's style (Or Sci-Fi entirely) will become thirsty for more. Chronicalling the (supposed) social misfit, Jack Isidore, as he speaks his mind about science, life, and his family. In Berkley (where most of Dick's work takes place), California, Jack resides and lives, until he is taken in by his sibling, and brother-in -law. There, begins a story that raises intriguing questions, affairs, madness, and life as a supposed misfit. After reading this, you WILL know Jack Isidore. Warning: This book will stick with you for a long time! Also, if you get a chance, look into the movie based on this book: Barjo, the 1993 French film.NOTE:NEVER LISTEN TO THE DESCRIPTION OF PHILIP K. DICK's BOOKS, THAT ARE ON THE BACK. FOR SOME REASON, THEY HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH THE STORY, ESPECIALLY "WE CAN BUILD YOU". The backs make each book sound like every other crappy second-rate sci-fi book. THEY ARE NOT.
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4.0 out of 5 stars "Philip K. Dick meets J.D. Salinger.", 6 Oct. 1996
By A Customer
Wow, this book is crazy! Dick tries to set himself up as a mainstream novelist, and SUCCEEDS!...but can't hide his sci-fi soul. More conventional than any Dick I've read, "Crap Artist" is a very powerful, searching book. The characters are 3-D, the settings are real, and the only aliens are in Jack Isidore's head. If you like your fiction a little bent, and if you want to see what a great pulp novelist can do with straight narrative, this is the book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Real Life Weirdness, 7 Aug. 1995
By A Customer
More readable than "Valis", Dick's tale about mentally ill
Jack Isidore (the same name as the chickenhead in
"Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep") in California
in the '50's. Jack move in with his sister and her
husband, while convinced the world will end and the
aliens are coming. Nicely observed, strongly written
(among his most consistant) a real find.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Secret Literature, 6 May 1997
By A Customer
The thing about Mr. Dick is that everyone has seen BLADE RUNNER and then they run out and buy one of his books. He is forever trapped by his absolutely stunning Sci-Fi (not that that is a drawback). However, with CONFESSIONS we see a side of Mr. Dick that is frequently overlooked: we see an attention to human suffering and confusion that would put him on par with an Updike or a Baxter as a student of the human condition. And that is the true genius of the man. When we read CONFESSIONS we see reality disguised as a Sci-Fi novel. We see a powerful literary voice that transcends genre and speaks to the human heart. We see that part of Mr. Dick that gave spark and life to the imaginative narratives of his other novels, without which they would have been nothing but dime store ramblings. His science is a highly stylized body for his work, powerful and compelling, but this fiction, this human fiction, is the work's soul.
Put simply, if all of the works of the Twentieth Century are destroyed except for CONFESSIONS, scholars will look back on that one remnant and they will say "There was a great and secret literature in those days. If all books were as great as this one then we weep at the loss. We weep at the loss." That Mr. Dick has passed on, denying us any more CONFESSIONS, is enough to make me weep as well.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dick's real-life drama as startling as his sci-fi, 20 Jun. 1997
By A Customer
Readers of "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep" will recognize the character of Jack Isidore right off. He plays a very similar role in this book as that one; in both places he is a semi-autistic outcast who obsesses over religion (in "Androids") and the out-of-the-ordinary. The differences are:1. "Crap Artist," though not released until 1975, was written in 1959, nine years before "Androids" and 2. This is not a science fiction novel, per se.

Indeed, here we see Dick writing about the obsessions and personality disorders of the every-day man. He writes it in Faulkner-fashion; letting his characters trade off first person accounts. Jack is only one of them. The tale of spouse abuse, UFO-worshipping, deception, and modern convenience is brilliant. Had Dick refined a few of the early chapters, it would have been perfect. A dark, and overlooked treasure
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Confessions of a Crap Artist (GOLLANCZ S.F.)
Confessions of a Crap Artist (GOLLANCZ S.F.) by Philip K. Dick (Paperback - 10 Nov. 2005)
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