Title: We Can Remember it for You Wholesale
Author: Philip K. Dick
Page Count: 496
The first thing that I should mention here is that there are two books with the same title, and that one is volume two of Dick’s collected short stories and one is volume five. This one is volume five, but it’s all good because you don’t need to read through it in order.
I picked this up because I eventually want to read everything that Dick ever wrote, and his collected short stories seem like a good place to start. I could have started with volume one I suppose, but one of my friends picked out a random number to correspond with a book on my wishlist and this is what it corresponded to. It was a pretty good pick.
Sure, as with any short story collection, there are peaks and troughs, by which I mean that some of the stories are better than others. But that’s to be expected with any short story collection, and I was impressed with the overall quality here, especially when you think about how quickly Dick used to crank out his stories.
There are one or two that are perhaps not as deep as the others, but they’re still pretty entertaining. For example, there’s a story about these two-foot high aliens who grow in size when they’re exposed to some very human vices. They grow to four feet after smoking a cigarette and then develop a taste for alcohol and women. It’s probably not very 2020, but because it’s a jokey piece to begin with, I don’t think it matters too much.
In fact, one of the interesting things about this book is that it goes between serious societal issues and deadpan humour from one story to another, and that helps to show off Dick’s diversity as a writer. There are few others who could compete with him on diversity and output, although it’s also true that there are better writers in terms of quality.
But the real hallmark of success here is that the vast majority of the stories stuck in my mind, and just looking at the title alone is enough to take me back to them. The worry with a huge short story collection is that after a while, some of the stories can blend together. That doesn’t happen here.
So would I recommend this one? Yeah sure, why not? There’s also the benefit that you don’t have to read through the books in order and so you can even just keep your eyes peeled in charity shops and thrift stores for any of the five books in the collection series. Then you can read one story each evening until you work your way through it – or if you’re like me, you can just get hooked and binge through them. Whatever floats your boat, my friend. Happy reading.