Friday, October 17, 2008

Humpty Dumpty in Oakland-Philip K. Dick

Humpty Dumpty in Oakland
Philip K. Dick
Tor, Oct 2008, $14.95
ISBN: 0765316919

In 1950s California bone tired as he still recovers from a heart attack garage owner Jim Fergesson plans to retire. Meanwhile one of his customers used car salesman cynical Al Miller learns that Jim is investing his retirement fund in a shaky real estate deal that in all probability will wipe the elderly man out.

Miller decides to help his friend by getting Jim not to invest in a loser. He obtains a job with the party he believes is conning Jim. However even Miller who believes almost everyone is a low life shark out to get you is stunned with what he finds while working undercover. He has landed in the middle of a colossal fraud that targets the ailing elderly.

As with the recently reprinted IN MILTON LUMKY TERRITORY, HUMPTY DUMPTY IN OAKLAND is a 1950s contemporary, but has the deep feel of a well written character driven historical that feels even more apropos today with the economy. The full vivid picture of those “Happy Days” is showcased as two Americas; a middle class enjoying the fruits of a growing economy while the other is a victim of prejudice unable to reach the lowest hanging fruit. Fans of Philip K. Dick will observe one of the author’s prime themes of an overwhelmed individual battling against the avaricious status quo power brokers.

Harriet Klausner