Credits Navigation philipdick.com Novels Short Stories ReferencesVOICES FROM THE STREET
|MS Thought Lost|
|2007||Tor Books, hb, Jan 2007, 304pp, $24.95, ISBN 978-0-765-31692-7|
|2007||Tor Books, tp, 2007, 304pp, $14.95 (?), ISBN 0-765-31821-0|
In April through June of 1952 PKD was preparing GATHER YOURSELVES TOGETHER for submission to the SMLA and writing VOICES FROM THE STREET. Both of these are long novels, GATHER coming in at 481 manuscript pages and VOICES FROM THE STREET at 652 pages. The manuscript for VOICES FROM THE STREET was lost for many years. It wasn't until the 21st century that it was found and finally published by Tor Books in 2007.
But no money was coming in while Dick worked on VOICES FROM THE STREET and after he sent that off to the SMLA PKD returned to writing short stories. The first to reach the Agency was "The Builder" on July 23, 1952, followed a day later by "Meddler."
Between late-1955 and early-1958 Philip K. Dick continued the frustrating path of the mainstream writer. Paul Williams suggests that during this period Dick had withdrawn his earliest mainstream novels, VOICES FROM THE STREET and GATHER YOURSELVES TOGETHER, from consideration by publishers and even tried unsuccessfully to find another agent.
Here's what Carl Hays of Booklist has to say about this early novel:
While this heretofore unpublished novel from Dick's early years is strictly mainstream fare, it foreshadows themes that appear later in his speculative fiction, particularly those concerning madness and alienation. In many ways, the central figure here, Stuart Hadley, lives the ideal American dream, working as an electronics salesman and married to a beautiful woman in a tony district of 1950s Oakland, California. Like many of Dick's iconoclastic protagonists, however, he is also a dreamer, an idealistic artist, and ultimately a dropout from lockstep social conformism. The novel follows Hadley's descent into depression, madness, and eventual return to sanity. Surprisingly well written for a formative effort, it is a welcome addition to its author's large and brilliant canon.
And a blurb from Publisher's Weekly:
"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."
The Tor Books website has an excerpt from VOICES FROM THE STREET, hereís an excerpt from their excerpt:
That morning, at the other end of town, at exactly 5:45 a.m., Stuart Hadley woke up in a cell of the Cedar Groves jail. Somebody was banging on the metal bars; Hadley lay on the cot and cringed furiously to himself until the noise died down. Frowning at the wall, he lay waiting, hoping it had gone. But it hadnít gone. Presently it was back.
"Hadley," the cop yelled in at him, "time to get up."
He lay wadded up, knees drawn up against his stomach, arms wrapped around him, still frowning, still waiting, still mutely hoping it would go away. But now there was the jangle of keys and bolts; the door slid noisily back and the cop came inside, right up to the cot.
"Come on," he said in Hadleyís exposed ear. "Time to get out of here, you stupid son of a bitch."
Hadley stirred. Gradually, resentfully, he began to unwind his body. First his feet extended themselves and groped for the floor. Then his legs stretched out, long and straight. His arms released their grip; with a grunt of pain he sagged to an upright sitting position. He didnít look at the cop; instead, he sat with his head down, staring at the floor, brows drawn together, eyes almost shut, trying to keep out the harsh gray light filtering through the window.
"What the hell are you?" the cop demanded, baiting him.
Hadley didnít answer. With his fingers he felt his head, his ears, his teeth, his jaw. Rough stubble scratched his fingers; he needed a shave. His coat was torn. His necktie was missing. For an interval he fumbled clumsily under his cot; finally he found his shoes and dragged them out. Their weight almost pulled him down on his knees.
"Hadley," the cop repeated, standing in front of him, legs apart, hands on his hips, "whatís the matter with you?"
Hadley got into his shoes and began tying the laces. His hands shook. He could hardly see. His stomach gurgled and crept up in his throat. The pain in his head pulled his brows together in a thin, anxious frown.
"Get your valuables at the desk," the cop said. He turned and strode out of the cell. Presently, with infinite caution, Hadley made his way after him.
When Phil Dick sat down to write what became SOLAR LOTTERY he had
already written and failed to sell two straight, literary novels. Paul Williams'
authoritative chronology in Only Apparently Real dates VOICES FROM THE STREET as
the first of these but several pieces of circumstantial evidence leads me to say that
GATHER YOURSELVES TOGETHER was written first. There is no "green card" for
either of these books in the SMLA files; but the agency did circulate one or both of them
to publishers in the mid 1950s. We know this from the SMLA card clipped to the surviving
manuscript of GATHER YOURSELVES TOGETHER; from a letter from Meredith to Dick dated
January 17, 1954 (well before any of Dick's novels reached New York) telling him that
Crown books, a major house and not an sf publisher, had not reached a decision yet; and
from Don Wollheim's memory of reading the first few chapters of a manuscript "about a
record shop" -- which describes either VOICES FROM THE STREET, or the rather later
MARY AND THE GIANT.
Kleo believes GATHER came first. It is cruder than VOICES, seemingly less personal, and it makes the never-repeated amateur's mistake of setting the bulk of the action in a place Dick never visited (China), a place he could hardly know as intimately as he would the locales of his later realist novels. Dick joined the Meredith agency so that they could circulate the manuscripts of his harder to sell items, it will be recalled; GATHER was probably what Dick had on hand, in mid-1952, for Meredith to sell. There's no doubt in my mind that Dick was writing what I believe to be his second book, VOICES FROM THE STREET, in June 1952; the book is set right at that time, and is dedicated "To S.M."
Rickman sees VOICES as being superior to GATHER.
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