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120

<Mar 27, 1980

1984

Chains Of Air, Web Of Aethyr

I Hope I Shall Arrive Soon

 

FIRST PUBLICATION

1984 InterzoneSMOD.jpg (6491 bytes)   Interzone #8, Summer 1984

 HISTORY:

   One more short story was written in 1979, although it’s not really a short story but an autobiographical essay.

    "Strange Memories Of Death", written in late 1979, reached the SMLA on Mar 27, 1980 and was published in Interzone #8 in the Summer of 1984.

    The title was PKD’s although, in an unusual turnabout, his agent tried to market the story, unsuccessfully under the title "Blessing In Disguise". Usually it was the other way around with PKD’s original titles being changed.

    "Strange Memories Of Death" was selected for the PKD collection I HOPE I SHALL ARRIVE SOON in 1985 and then included in THE COLLECTED STORIES in 1987. Today it can be conveniently found in THE SHIFTING REALITIES OF PHILIP K. DICK (TSR) edited by Lawrence Sutin.

    What occasioned the story was the conversion of PKD’s apartment building in Santa Ana into condominiums. Dick was able to afford to make the change but some of his neighbors were not so fortunate. The "Lysol Lady" in the story was one such of these.

    The story is a popular one with readers. Biographer Gregg Rickman selected it as his favorite story:

    A haunting tale. Phil’s writing just got better and better. Let no one tell you that he wouldn't still be writing great stuff today if he hadn't died in 1982; this story proves it. Phil's early death was a catastrophe for world literature. No one has remarked on this enough.

    And another fan, Karl-Heinz Wiedemann wrote:

    I am spellbound time and again by "Strange Memories of Death," one of the greatest short stories I know. It seems that Dick's narrative voice inevitably gives you the feeling of being personally addressed by an intimate yet anonymous acquaintance, which would account for that special joy you feel if now and again the originator of that voice sheds the distancing guise of third person narrative and speaks for himself a while.

    "Strange Memories of Death" is written in the first person narrative and is definitely autobiographical. It tells of the narrator (PKD) sitting in his newly converted condo worrying about one of his neighbors, the crazy Lysol Lady, who is being evicted. He knows no way to help and in the end discovers that two weeks previously she had been moved by the Housing Authority who are paying her new rent. The narrator wishes someone would pay his rent but is informed by the landlord that he’s not paying rent, he’s buying his apartment.

    In the tale PKD mentions the 1979 school shooting in which two children were killed by a fellow female student. Asked why she did it she replied, "I don’t like Mondays." This sad story was recorded in musical form by the Boomtown Rats with the same title, "I don’t like Mondays" in 1980.

    Considered as a short story, "Strange Memories of Death" is very different from any of PKD’s other stories. I repeat, it’s really not a story but as a story it rates .


Other Magazine and Anthology appearances

1985 I HOPE I SHALL ARRIVE SOON, Doubleday, hb, 19567-2, Jul 1985, 179pp, $12.95 (Cathy Canzani) 0-385-19567-2     
1987   THE COLLECTED STORIES OF PHILIP K. DICK  
       

NOTES:

Fan fave: Favorite Story: "Strange Memories Of Death." A haunting tale. Phil's writing just got better and better. Let no one tell you that he wouldn't still be writing great stuff today if he hadn't died in 1982; this story proves it. Phil's early death was a catastrophe for world literature. No one has remarked on this enough. -- Gregg Rickman, CA in FDO

PKDS-8 9

"Strange Memories Of Death" was written in early 1980, after Phil's apartment became a condominium; "SMoD" is Phil's original title, but his agent tried (unsuccessfully) to market it under the title "Blessing In Disguise." The story was first published in Interzone # 8, Summer 1984. {Paul Williams}

PKDS-29 11

{...}I am spellbound time and again by "Strange Memories of Death," one of the greatest short stories I know. It seems that Dick's narrative voice inevitably gives you the feeling of being personally addressed by an intimate yet anonymous acquaintance, which would account for that special joy you feel if now and again the originator of that voice sheds the distancing guise of third person narrative and speaks for himself a while.

{...}{Karl-Heinz Wiedemann > PKDS, Jul 1991}

See also:

Collector’s Notes

 


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