Summer Reading

THOMAS MALLON

I’ve reached a point in life where I need my glasses in order to find my glasses, which I never seem to leave in the same place twice. During the morning hunt for them, my unaided eyes pass over a haze of colors and oblongs that were once the legible spines on my bookshelves—a miscellaneous blur that seems somehow akin to the summer-reading recommendations I herewith offer. This small swirl of genres and sensibilities, five titles, is united only by my keen approval and the pleasant desire to put these books into others’ hands.

In the course of his too-brief life (192882), while struggling with debt and drugs and mental illness, Philip K. Dick published much of his startling science fiction in pulpy paperback originals. How odd—and satisfying—to see a quartet of his novels newly added to the august Library of America (Four Novels of the 1960s, $35, 830 pp.), whose Bible paper and bookmark ribbons make each volume in that series resemble a sacred text or at least a missal. The Man in the High Castle (1962), included in this new edition, is a tour de force of alternate history, inventing as it does a world in which the Germans and Japanese have won the Second World War and divided the United States into nervous spheres of influence. Dick focuses on an...

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About the Author

Thomas Mallon is the author of seven novels, including the recently published Fellow Travelers (Pantheon).