Humpty Dumpty in Oakland (Hardcover)
Tor Books, 9780765316905, 256pp.
Publication Date: October 2, 2007
Set in San Francisco in the late 1950s, Humpty Dumpty in Oakland is a tragicomedy of misunderstandings among used car dealers and real-estate salesmen: the small-time, struggling individuals for whom Philip K.Dick always reserved his greatest sympathy. Jim Fergesson is an elderly garage owner with a heart condition, who is about to retire; Al Miller is a somewhat feckless mechanic who sublets part of Jim's lot and finds his livelihood threatened by the decision to sell; Chris Harman is a record-company owner who for years has relied on Fergesson to maintain his cars. When Harman hears of Fergesson's impending retirement he tips him off to what he says is a cast-iron business proposition: a development in nearby Marin County with an opening for a garage. Al Miller is convinced that Harman is a crook, out to fleece Fergesson of his life's savings. As much as he resents Fergesson he can't bear to see it happen and--denying to himself all the time what he is doing--he sets out to thwart Harman.
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Praise For Humpty Dumpty in Oakland…
"A kind of pulp-fiction Kafka, a prophet." --The New York Times "Remarkable. . .echoes of Dick's contemporaries such as Ralph Ellison, Richard Yates, Rod Serling, Raymond Chandler and early Kurt Vonnegut Jr. resonate, and a bonus exists in Dick's impeccable eye for detail. . . .Dick fans will be in rapture." --Publishers Weekly [boxed review] on Voices from the Street
"He reworks the territory of soured domesticity (à la Richard Yates and John Updike) in a working-class milieu anticipating Raymond Carver. Decades later, his oeuvre (like Philip Roth's) is lovingly enshrined in our national pantheon." -LA Times
"It may be hard for some to accept that the same writer who recently snuck into the American canon as a visionary and paranoid pop surrealist also penned a half dozen or more proletarian-realist novels set in the California of the '50's and early '60's, the best of which occupy a region demarcated by Richard Yates on one side and Charles Willeford on another. But accept it." --Jonathan Lethem
"Well written, it is a welcome addition to its authors' large and brilliant canon." --Booklist on Voices from the Street