Thursday, February 23, 2006

suggested biographies: Rainer Werner Fassbinder/Philip K Dick

this month i've read two biographies of artists that i am obsessed with. one for the past ten years or so and one for the past year or so. Both were insanely prolific, both died young. I'm talking about the science fiction novelist, Philip K Dick, and the German filmmaker Rainer Werner Fassbinder.

the Fassbinder bio I read first a few weeks ago. It's called "Love Is Colder Than Death" and was written by Robert Katz. It details Fassbinder's rapid fire work pace and drug intake. At one point he was doing 8 grams of coke a day! He was rather infamous in West Germany in the 70's as a degenerate homosexual and drug addict who constantly participated in orgies. A fellow Gemini (May 31st) Between 1969-and his death in 1982 he made between 35-40 films as well as the fifteen hour "Berlin Alexanderplatz" for German television. How much do I love Fassbinder? If our child due in 8 weeks is a boy, he'll be Rainer Gibson. So if any of this sounds interseting in the least, I urge you to read this biography as well as to go see his films. Some of my personal favorites include: In A Year With 13 Moons, Fox and His Friends, Ali:Fear Eats the Soul, Veronika Voss, and The Marriage of Maria Braun.

the Dick bio I just finished last night. It's called "Divine Invasions: A Life of Philip K Dick" and was written by Lawrence Sutin (who has also written a bio on Aleister Crowley) I had been wanting to read this book for a long time as I heard that it was kind of the definitive Dick bio and has only recently came back into print. I first became aware of Dick while reading in Alec Foege's Sonic Youth bio "Confusion is Next" that Dick's writing was the inspiration for their LP Sister (A reference to PKD's twin sister Jane, who died after living less than a month) Some of the song lyrics were lifted from his texts. Then I moved to Texas and met John Stobaugh who immediately loaned me quite a few PKD novels like: Valis, Ubik, and Martian Time Slip and I instantly became hooked to this wonderful trippy writing that went far and beyond what you'd expect from trashy science fiction. This bio is incredible, the more you read it the more you realize how strange his life really was and how much of his fiction draws from that weird weird life he led. Five marriages, suicide attempts, stays in the psych ward, and communion with divine?alien? wisdom, too weird to get into here. Philip K Dick has been ripped off so much and when you are familiar with his work you can see what a huge influence he's had on things today. This guy is as or more important than Thomas Pynchon, Don Delillo, Jack Kerouac...I'll go so far as to call him the most important American writer of the past 40 years! This bio sheds so much light and is quite interesting even if you are unfamiliar with his writing.

so tell oprah to shove it up her bookbag- you've just found something better to read.......

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