cover image Puttering about in a Small Land

Puttering about in a Small Land

Philip K. Dick. Academy Chicago Publishers, $11.95 (291pp) ISBN 978-0-89733-149-4

Since his death in 1982, science-fiction writer Dick's reputation has reached cult status, fueling the publication of many previously unpublished works. In this, one of his mainstream novels, Dick is most perceptive about the relationships between men and women. The story concerns Roger Lindahl, 30-ish, intense, very competent but also very insecure; he is married to Virginia, a cool, intelligent, distant woman. The Lindahls meet Chic and Liz Bonner, and as a friendship between the couples develops, Roger finds himself attracted to warm, earthy, simple Liz. The two stumble into an absurd affair, and when Virginia discovers what has happened, she blackmails her husband out of his business and what is left of his self-respect. Dick demonstrates a surer hand at delineating the complexities of married life than in most of his works, and he crafts the story with such skill that, though the conclusion has the inevitability of a Greek tragedy, it is fresh and unpredictable. November