A Scanner Darkly by Philip K. Dick

Dick, Philip K. (1977, 2011). A Scanner Darkly. Orion House; London. 

This is a trippy, amazing, intense ride of a novel. I read it for the first time this past long weekend; it felt incredibly familiar to me.

It felt  familiar to me because I’ve previous watched the film adaptation. Immediately after I completed the book, I rewatched A Scanner Darkly in all its animated glory, and the book closely mirrored the novel – to the point that I was able to voice some lines from the novel during the film.

Keanu Reeves in A Scanner Darkly.

I would recommend the novel itself, in addition to the movie, because of its engrossing, hectic pace and reflection on insanity, self-identity, and the 70s hippie drug culture of southern California (Walter, 2012Wikipedia article). There are so many angles and eyes out of which you look as a reader in this novel. You’re never sure – is Bob Arctor really that insane, or is it everyone else? Is he a helpless pawn in a larger game, or actively engaged in his own destruction?

It’s a great book to read on a sunny, bright day – don’t read it in the dark, when your own fears are plaguing you! I like how The Guardian writer, Damien Walter, wrote about this novel on December 17th, 2012 (see full article here):

“The theme of darkness runs through literature as a metaphor for our fears. As a society, we are so scared of insanity that we construct all kinds of guises to hide it from view: the lunatic, the criminal, the addict. And with these illusions in place we pretend lunacy, crime and addiction aren’t right there waiting for us should misfortune find us. A Scanner Darkly is about the fragility of our lives and the obscure horror of insanity. In his later work, Dick explores what lies behind our fear of madness, and perhaps it’s there that his work becomes true art. But in A Scanner Darkly he drives us down into our deepest fears and leaves us there, in the darkness.” 

Definitely an intriguing and thoughtful summer read!

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