Jonathan Lethem Loves Dick
...in the new VQR
. Via Boing Boing
Here’s the writer of Ubik, gregariously welcoming into his ramshackle parlor the bigshot Hollywood hipster filmmaker Dancer Handclasp—who has probably come here to rip him off—and Handclasp’s girlfriend, the famous and beautiful actress Lena Finney. The writer of Ubik, in his snuff-stained beard and with his barrel chest stretching the buttons of his paisley shirt and with his cat elusive underfoot—avoiding him ever since scratching the hell out of the speakers—has seen so much come through his door by now, the freaks and cops of various kinds. He’s been both freak and cop himself. Recognizes the fatal confusion in others when they appear before him, and this guy Handclasp is a classic case. He is fey and strong at once, pathetic and menacing, European and totally Californian, a hippie with power, a beggar arriving with something the writer wants: a movie deal. Legitimacy.
He sees it everywhere, legitimacy, an elusive substance the world has chosen to tease him with. He renounces it: You can’t fire me; I quit. You propriety, you legitimacy, you money, you grown-ups. You wives. You mainstream writers. There is no mainstream; he knows it now. And then legitimacy comes calling in another guise, and today it’s Handclasp, brandishing the actress, his trump card. The actress has the writer totally buffaloed. She is so beautiful and all he can do is imagine her not in his room and not in his bed but in his movie. Handclasp can have her in bed. The writer will not tell his secret: He’d give Handclasp the book he wants for free if he would only make it real, make it happen, fix the crack in the world. Put Lena Finney in a movie called Are Androids Dreaming of Me While I Sleep? The book is out of print, anyway.
Do they know who they’re dealing with?
I’ve got nothing to sell. I already gave it away, cast my pearls, wasted my treasure. Every confusion etched in stone for all to see, brought down as by Moses or Mercer from the mountaintop. But totally out of print, broke, screwed, fnargled. Famous in France, among the horse lovers. And horse lover, after all, means only Philip.
I’m the greatest nobody you ever heard of, but you’re here telling me what I want to hear: that I’m the greatest, that I know the secret of the world and that makes me important and dangerous. What does that make you?
A freak or a cop?