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Puttering About in a Small Land

3.43  ·  Rating Details  ·  390 Ratings  ·  42 Reviews
When Roger and Virginia Lindhal enroll their son Gregg in Mrs. Alt's Los Padres Valley School in the mountains of Southern California, their marriage is already in deep trouble. Then the Lindhals meet Chic and Liz Bonner, whose two sons also board at Mrs. Alt's school. The meeting is a catalyst for a complicated series of emotions and traumas, set against the backdrop of s ...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published January 4th 2011 by Tor Books (first published 1985)
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(showing 1-30 of 818)
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Hyzenthlay
Dec 25, 2014 Hyzenthlay rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The worst part of having a favourite author who died before you started reading him is that eventually you will run out of new reading material. The best part of that favourite author being Philip K Dick is that he was prolific as fuck AND he has so many books that are only recently coming back into print and/or being published posthumously for the first time that even though I've been reading him for 20+ years, I still haven't run out of new-to-me shit to read.

Puttering About in a Small Land i
...more
Ryandake
Nov 01, 2012 Ryandake rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
this is the second of Philip K. Dick's non-sf fiction that i've read, and i'm telling you, there's something rather addictive about them.

this book is about two couples in LA in the late 40s/early 50s, the postwar era. they meet, have adventures, get into trouble.

the plot of this book is not the draw. it's the fine characterizations Dick works, getting us so deeply into the characters' heads that we find ourselves puttering about in the smallest land of all: the space inside the skull.

and damn! h
...more
Jonathan Norton
Another early PKD realist work. The "small land" of the title is the TV&radio store that Roger Lindahl rules as his own domain. But the scope of this novel isn't small at all: we journey across the whole USA, from depression Arkansas to Washington DC in wartime to the aircraft plants of California and in the closing pages we're headed out to Chicago. The story is mostly within in the years 1952-4 but with flashbacks to earlier episodes. The social-observational detail is greatest, as Dick tr ...more
Joni
Jun 01, 2016 Joni rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pkd
Making my way through Dick's non-SF work over the years, I've basically read six or seven versions of the same novel. I'm not complaining. Most of these were unpublished during his lifetime and are obviously unfinished; they're presented as is for those who are interested enough, which I certainly am. The writing itself is always excellent. The same cast of characters come back in different forms: the small-minded man who runs the the TV repair place/record store/radio shop, the humiliated alpha ...more
Jack Stovold
Jun 26, 2012 Jack Stovold rated it really liked it
My Philip K. Dick Project
Entry #13 - Puttering About In A Small Land (written late ‘56, early ‘57, published posthumously Oct 1985)

Puttering, the fourth straight novel I’ve read so far, sees Dick writing much more efficiently than he has. The sort of scattershot plotting and underdeveloped subplots seen in Voices From the Street, Mary and the Giant, and The Broken Bubble are largely absent, despite Puttering being by my reckoning the longest of the four. This book goes full speed ahead, and I f
...more
Barbara
Mar 12, 2012 Barbara rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I took a look at this book in a used bookstore and before I knew it, I had finished half of it. I finished the rest of it the following night.



It's a simple read, but in no way is this book simplistic. There's so much I have to say about this book, I could fill another book, or maybe two. If you're looking for what is traditionally thought to be the classic Philip K. Dick genre and type, then this is not the book for you. This book is not an escape from reality, instead, it is a hard crash into
...more
Sean O'Leary
This is the 35th book by Phillip K Dick I've read and my fourth non-scifi. Prior to reading this I read Humpty Dumpty in Oakland and In Milton Lumky Territory and both were flawed but had their moments. That being said, it's easily one of his worst books he's written from what I've read so far. I'm shocked by some of the praise people have given it here, it's not conceptually interesting, the story is about two people who cheat on their spouses and amounts nothing more than that, and the suppose ...more
Cameron
I really would have liked to give this 4 stars, but as it was I waivering on 2 stars.

PKD was a truly terrific writer, but his choice of "plot" for his mainstream writing stifled him. His writing sucks you in and draws you in but the characters are too real and the diintegration of their lives is too close to home to be entertaining.

The historic record of urban development in California after WWII up to the mid 1950's is very interesting, and is the saving grace of the book. It is really interes
...more
Karl Kindt
Jul 17, 2016 Karl Kindt rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
In the past three days, I have read GATHER YOURSELVES TOGETHER, VOICE FROM THE STREET, and now PUTTERING ABOUT IN A SMALL LAND. All three of these books have painful realism. All three are better than more than half of PKD's sf, and I love his sf. I think his non-sf did not take off and do well when he was alive because it was both too real and too weird at the same time. People like realism or they like weird, but they do not tend to like both at the same time. To those who say his non-sf is am ...more
Guy Salvidge
I'd have to describe this as a 'fascinating failure'. I have read this before but not for 15 years, so I didn't remember a great deal other than the tedium of the opening pages. Early on, the narrative is split between chapters detailing the Linahls' drives up to Ojai to take their son to a school there (very dull) with chapters explaining how Roger and Virginia Lindahl met and ended up together in 1945 (much more interesting). The novel is REALLY about the affair between Roger and Liz Bonner an ...more
Vickipedia
Mar 04, 2014 Vickipedia rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mike
Jan 07, 2016 Mike rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars. I very much enjoyed this, and I would rank it as second only to The Transmigration of Timothy Archer among PKD's non-science fiction novels. In fact, it reminded me of Timothy Archer at times, despite having been written some 25 years earlier.

Unlike most of PKD's oeuvre, this is not a novel about Big Crazy Ideas, it's a novel about characters. And here he shows that he really can write great characters and deft prose. In comparison to so much of his work, which has that frantic, rush
...more
Fiona Robson
“Puttering About in a Small Land is an early non-science fiction novel by noted science fiction author Philip K. Dick. It was written sometime in 1957, but remained unpublished until it was released posthumously in 1985.

In 1944, Virginia Watson and Roger Lindahl meet in Washington DC. They marry after Roger divorces his first wife Teddy and abandons his daughter by her as well. Their subsequent move to Los Angeles to work in a munitions factory proves extremely profitable. But Roger spends the m
...more
Brian
Mar 22, 2013 Brian rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction-zilla
This was my first foray into the writing of Phillip K. Dick. Based on what he is generally known for, this is an odd duck of a starting point. Unlike "Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep", "Puttering About In A Small Land" is nothing remotely akin to science fiction. Rather, this is a story about a man who appears to feel trapped by the confines of suburban family life in post-WW2 America.

The characters' names escape me as I'm writing this from memory, but the story centers around a man who leav
...more
Geoff Sebesta
Oct 13, 2012 Geoff Sebesta rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It might not be PKD's best, but it's still a great book. Depth, perception, and a reassuring lack of perfection. He gave himself full reign to explore the inner lives of his characters, and there are moments of great beauty. He also delights in showing how different people interact with different people.

I wish all realistic novels were this real. This is not an elaborate fantasy world, it is about a southern California television store owner in the early 1950s as he loves and then abandons three
...more
Marie-anaïs Rostaing
Set in the 50's in sunny California, this book explores love and adultery but ultimately fails to deliver a message, good or bad. You part ways with the characters feeling unsatisfied, like the story could have been much richer or could have developped further.
Amanda
Jul 05, 2015 Amanda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The first and only non scifi Dick book I have read. Proves Dick possesses extraordinary versatility and an ability to captivate readers' interests outside of the science fiction realm. I don't know if I would have ever been interested in this premise or read this if it were not a Philip k. Dick book, however, but at least I now have a new appreciation for his talent.
Jo
Jun 30, 2015 Jo rated it really liked it
Very different from most Philip K. Dick books. Realistic fiction of desperate and devious characters with all of their character flaws exposed.
Clare
Mar 02, 2016 Clare rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of Phil's non- sci fi novels. A gritty tale depicting surburban life in LA during the 2nd world war and the early 50's. As usual Phil's characters are excellently developed and struggle with everyday life. Marriage, money, family and business all get jumbled together in this quirky and realistic story. Powerful and eloquent tale. * note this is one of the books published after Philip's death.
Laurent
Mar 01, 2014 Laurent rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
450 pages pour raconter un adultère, ça fait beaucoup. C'est un roman (volontairement?) plat, sans suspense ni émotion, mais heureusement sans prétention, qui retranscrit simplement l'atmosphère de l'après-guerre sur la Côte Ouest. Un peu de science-fiction n'aurait pas été de trop!
Jon
Sep 11, 2015 Jon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Before he focused his energies on writing damn fine science fiction to pay the rent, Philip K. Dick was a damn fine novelist.
Rosie
Oct 20, 2011 Rosie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I guess I didn't pick up a sci-fi book by this author as my first read which may have been a mistake. i know he is best known for his sci-fi work so i definitely need to check it out.
This book was ok. Not a hard read and it had some well-written parts but overall it was kind of bland. I didn't particularly like any of the characters and found the plot a little dull. The ending was ok.
Nothing about this book really wowed me but I didn't hate it either. i'll be sure to pick up something else by th
...more
This Is Not The Michael You're Looking For
I'm a fan of Philip K. Dick, but Puttering About in a Small Land, a mainstream fiction novel written in the 50's but published after his death, bored me. It's the story of a married couple in 1950's Los Angeles, dealing with their small lives and the intersection with another couple whose children go to the same school as their own. While some may consider it a fascinating character study, I found the characters to be flat and uninteresting. Not one of his better works; recommended only for comp ...more
Ricardo Signes
Feb 09, 2016 Ricardo Signes rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literature
I'm not sure whether the characters in this book were actually more realistic than those in most of PKD's novels. I've often found his characters to be of very few types, and those in Puttering About were largely of those types. Still, they seemed richer and more three-dimensional than those in so many of his sci-fi books. The story was interesting and sort of melancholy. I don't know that I would really recommend this book to many people, but I'm pleased to have read it.
Jetta
Jan 03, 2010 Jetta rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-i-own
I really wanted to like the book, he's a great writer and that is what made the book bearable for me. I know it's more of a satirical social commentary type book... but I really wanted there to be a hero or at least a villain. All in all, I did pull a few pearls from the book and the title is completely fitting. While I may not have cared much for this novel it has convinced me to pick up and try other Philip K. Dick books.
Helen
Jul 01, 2012 Helen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not like his science fiction at all, but just as keenly perceptive of people and their varied, if not sometimes contradictory, motivations. And even though this story is set in a specific time and place, there is a sense of timelessness about the kinds of events that transpire. All said, I didn't care much for the characters, but then again, I don't think they were supposed to be all that likable to begin with.
J.A.
Apr 27, 2010 J.A. rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arc
My first (and most likely only) "straight" novel by Philip K. Dick. There was something trippy about reading a Philip K. Dick book that wasn't trippy; frankly I find his realistic fiction more bleak and depressing than his tales of a dystopian future! I had to take out my Philip K. Dick Reader and re-read my favorite story "Paycheck" to set myself straight!
James
Jun 22, 2012 James rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Kept my interest the whole way through, I identified with Roger while still admiring Virginia. Some of that sex/death stuff going around. I'll have to work that into my parody-of-post-WWII-American-fiction novel in which sex happens but is replaced in the novel's observational and obsessional affections by the act of pooping.
Rupert
Jan 23, 2008 Rupert rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A good non-sci-fi read by Sir Dick. Kind of a companion piece to Voices From the Street, which was just published for the first time, just without the religious cult from Voices. Both novels prove that intimate relatons between the sexes can be just as frightening as any sci-fi scenario.
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Philip K. Dick was born in Chicago in 1928 and lived most of his life in California. In 1952, he began writing professionally and proceeded to write numerous novels and short-story collections. He won the Hugo Award for the best novel in 1962 for The Man in the High Castle and the John W. Campbell Memorial Award for best novel of the year in 1974 for Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said. Philip K. Di ...more
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