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Confessions of a Crap Artist

3.66 of 5 stars 3.66  ·  rating details  ·  2,956 ratings  ·  146 reviews
Confessions of a Crap Artist is one of Philip K. Dick's weirdest and most accomplished novels. Jack Isidore is a crap artist -- a collector of crackpot ideas (among other things, he believes that the earth is hollow and that sunlight has weight) and worthless objects, a man so grossly unequipped for real life that his sister and brother-in-law feel compelled to rescue him ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published June 30th 1992 by Vintage (first published 1975)
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Community Reviews

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Lyn
Confessions of a Crap Artist by Philip K. Dick is not a normal, wildly imaginative science fiction offering from one of the most accomplished, innovative and influential science fiction writers of the modern era. It is instead a novel of complicated interpersonal family dynamics. But it is Dick’s voice, his resonate, edgy and unorthodox observant style that lends the book its greater depth.

The reader is frequently reminded of PKD’s penchant for the unusual, and this dicey undertone is what prev
...more
Wifey
Jan 23, 2008 Wifey rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: crap artist
There's a great French film based on this book, too. Check out "Barjo"
Logan
This is not a sci-fi novel, despite the hip, design-centric, adroid-esque cover. That cover is complete fucking bullshit.

Anyway, this one's more of a relationship/ family drama. I felt that it was readily apparent in this book that its author was trying to work things out. I don't know if that means it was heavy-handed, or if I've been influenced by what I've heard about PK Dick, but that's that.

There's lots of introspection, and false epiphanies, as well as real epiphanies, and a lot of philos
...more
Tom
I knew Little of Philip K .Dick until I started university, but one of the modules on my course in popular culture required us to study Blade Runner, and the book it was based on Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep. I found some of the popular culture modules mind numbing particularly the philosophy of adorno and horkheimer culture industry for example. However one of the bonus’s that came from the course was discovering Phillip as an author, and I have been a fan ever since. This was a book I h ...more
Ryandake
wow, a difficult book to assess.

you wouldn't think there'd be that much difference between how people thought in the 1950s and now. i mean, it's not like it was the Middle Ages or something.

but it might as well have been, in so many respects.

since you can read the summary above, i won't bore you with it. instead, i'll tell you what's difficult (and also well-done) about this novel.

first off, as a feminist, the misogyny is like a bullhorn in the face. you can't escape it--even the female characte
...more
Diana
I loved this book - I think I may have read it at least 5 times. I have read almost all of Philip K. Dick's novels and this is by far my favorite.
Scott Holstad
Okay, okay, I give up! I just can't read Philip K Dick's "mainstream" fiction. It's too awful. Too boring. Too terrible. Too mundane. This book is supposed to be the best of his mainstream novels, and I gave it a chance, I really did. I made it 81 pages into it, but had to give up. Jack Isidore is supposedly fairly crazy, but it's his sister and brother-in-law, Kay and Charley, who are actually nuts. This is a novel about relationships, but there isn't one redeemable character in it. No one you ...more
Silvia Di Muzio
"Confessioni" è uno di quei pochi lavori di Dick che non rientra nel genere sci-fi, al contrario, non c'è contesto più ordinario in cui possa essere ambientata la vicenda. Siamo nella California anni '50, quartieri residenziali, contesto familiare. Gli elementi in ballo sono pochi ed essenziali: quattro personaggi, due o tre ambienti al massimo e un intreccio lineare.
Nella semplicità del micro-cosmo che ci si presenta davanti i concetti e le tematiche dell'autore trovano ancora più risalto.

In
...more
Jack Stovold
My Philip K. Dick Project

Entry #17 - Confessions of a Crap Artist (written Mid 1959, published 1975)

Confessions of a Crap Artist contains Dick’s most assured and confident writing yet, at turns both bracing and hilarious. After the disappointing Dr. Futurity, a throwback to Dick’s earlier, clunkier style, this book was a joy to read. This is the only “straight", non-sci-fi novel of Dick’s to be published during his lifetime, and it’s not hard to see why. It’s easily the best of the bunch so far
...more
Rachel
(written 4-05)

I saw the movie based on this book first - "Barjo" - it was in French I think. It was a strange movie, of course, but I still remember the music because Greg and I sang along. Fay is the crazy controlling sister of Jack, who is also crazy. In the movie I thought she had homoerotic moments with Gwen, but in the book it is just Nat she has an affair with. This story is so unique it is really worth reading.

"Can we know our own motives? He thought, Actually a human being is an unfoldi
...more
Pavel Kravchenko
I've never read a book about so many irredeemable assholes before. There really isn't a single character anyone in their right mind would care about here. Children, maybe, but PKD pretty much completely ignores them, milking the assholes instead for all they are worth. It got really hard to read towards the middle, not so much because it was tedious or badly written, but because I wanted to rip the book to shreds every couple of minutes after something some asshole said or thought. I can't imagi ...more
Denis
A "non-genre" novel by PKD. The only one of several he wrote during the fifties to be published during his life-time - though twenty or so years after it was written.

This was a revelation. I was born in the late sixties so only became 'aware' in the seventies, eighties and beyond... Were there many books like this written in the fifties? Was this the norm? Is this what it was really like in California during that time? This ain't no "American Graffiti" type story. No "Leave it to Beaver" or "Os
...more
Marc
It's almost like Dick works out all his frustrations with men, women, and marriage in this novel. Really had no idea what to expect, although I was surprised both by the lack of any real science fiction element and by how much I enjoyed it. I think the continuing change of perspective really helped. Hard not to see this as highly autobiographical in some parts, although I don't know enough about his marriages to speak with any authority. Take away: Everybody is a crap artist--it just takes some ...more
Nick
I had not read this Dick novel previously, and found myself experiencing cognitive dissonance since much of it takes place in rural Marin county, a real place, and much of that action is surreal without being science fictional: no Mars, no radioactive dust, no androids, and yet somehow this is of a piece with novels like "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?" and "Martian Time Slip". As I read and reread Dick, I am becoming persuaded that he is one of the most significant American novelists of t ...more
Rafeeq O.
Deeply intriguing, sometimes puzzling, definitely worth the read. Point of view is interesting, varying among first person with Jack, and third person limited with either Fay or Charley or Nat. Toward the end Jack comments on the various levels of irony in the title of his book--is he presumed to have written all other chapters as well, rather than there being an omniscient author who compiled everything? Maybe, maybe not, though the lurid pulp-style "dramatization" of the affair of Fay and Nat ...more
David
This is one of the few non-science fiction works produced by PKD.

Confessions of a Crap artist is a fairly mainstream work of general fiction whose main interest is in dealing with the pathetic, and toxic, relationships a man—the crap artist—and his sister have. It has been referred to, by Rolling Stone Magazine, as a “funny, horribly accurate look at life in California in the 1950s”.

Horrible it is, not in the sense that Crap was badly conceived or written, but in the sense of the bleak, purpos
...more
Kumari
fuck me, that was so depressing! so much so, I had to deduct 2 stars for the state it's left me in.

I seem to be incapable of saying enough about how much I hate this story. now, I'm on a rampage writing comments commiserating with others who hated it also. I cannot purge my system of it! I feel icky and gross; I need a shower and some of that RID lice shampoo, too.

the writing is good and I stayed interested the whole time, but then it was like being unable to look away from a horrible accident h
...more
Joshua Buhs
Bitter.

Bitter, bitter, bitter.

Philip K. Dick is of course best known for his science fiction, but he often felt ghettoized in that genre and tried repeatedly to write mainstream literature. Some of this was published posthumously and is not bad--I liked Puttering About a Small Land. Confessions is the one of his mainstream books to be published when he was alive--although it does touch on science fiction.

The book starts out from the perspective of Jack Isidore, a small time loser living in a myt
...more
Jason
It was refreshing to read a Philip Dick novel that did not end in the tiresome alternate reality 'revelation' trope that so often muddles and mires his sci-fi novels. CONFESSIONS OF A CRAP ARTIST is a mainstream novel; the title, however, is disingenuous, because the novel is not a confession and the crap artist is not the center of the story. In fact, Jack Isidore, the 'Crap Artist' (or, one who collects crackpot theories and ideas) could be excised completely from this novel without changing i ...more
Ensiform
Possibly Dick's best novel. It was intriguing in character development and psychology, and fairly innovative in style (for example, having three narrators). The sympathy of the reader is directed with skill through the course of the novel. Great!
Gary
From the first sentence onward, you know you are not listening to an ordinary story written by an ordinary writer.

This is my first introduction to the author, Philip K. Dick, and it won't be my last. He's noted for his science fiction and this story only skirts around the edges of that genre. Things aren't what they appear and he makes you realize that the normal (the sister Fay) is more crazy than the bizarre (Jack, the brother and crap artist).

The story is a a pure pleasure to listen to. The o
...more
Lovro
I liked the idea of a multiple first person novel, but to be honest I really was not in the mood to read a novel about 4 disfunctional, crazy people.
Misti Rainwater-Lites
This is the best novel I have read in months. Drew me in right away, would not let me go. Damn fine piece of literature.
Andrea
I was surprised how much I enjoyed this book. My husband is a PKD devotee and had been prodding me to read more PKD. I'd read Do Androids Dream and Man in a High Castle, and both took me a while to get into. Confessions had me hooked from the beginning, though. Something about the extreme personalities of the characters was at once unbelievable and utterly believable. A writer could easily over-dramatize or overwrite these characters (daytime dramas come to mind), but I would say PKD takes a mor ...more
Ivan Castellucci
Non avevo mai letto un romanzo realista di Dick, sapevo che ne aveva scritti, ma che nessun editore li accettava perché da questo autore volevano solo ed esclusivamente "fantascienza".
Dick ci parla di tutto ciò che di solito ci parla nei suoi romanzi, con la differenza che qui non lo fa con un romanzo di fantascienza, lo fa con un romanzo postmoderno.
Si, questo romanzo ci mette in chiaro come Dick possa essere ascritto a pieno diritto nella lista degli autori postmoderni.
La mia recensione comple
...more
Kidbenicia
I decided this year to read through as many Philip K. Dick books as I could. I started with this one because I loved the title. Having read a couple of his books before, this one struck me as being pretty different - obviously not a Science Fiction title- but interesting because of that. I had expected that Jack's crackpot ideas would be more evident in the story. I enjoyed it though. Funny having grown up in the Bay Area and living here still that the stereotypical high-strung Marin type is so ...more
George
Χμ, δεν πρόκειται για βιβλίο επιστημονικής φαντασίας, καμία σχέση με άλλα βιβλία του Φίλιπ Ντικ, και καμία σχέση με επιστημονική φαντασία. Ούτε εξωγήινοι, ούτε διαστημόπλοια, ούτε κυβερνητικές ή άλλου είδους συνωμοσίες, ούτε προηγμένη τεχνολογία, ούτε τίποτα. Μάλλον πρόκειται για ένα απλό οικογενειακό δράμα. Το βιβλίο είναι απλά ένα διάλειμμα του Φίλιπ Ντικ από την επιστημονική φαντασία.

Η πλοκή δεν ήταν κάτι το ιδιαίτερο, αν και είχε κάποιες ενδιαφέρουσες στιγμές, αλλά το θετικότατο σημείο του
...more
Jeremy
I like me some Dick. It's weird to be read anything in his style that isn't science fiction though. In 2014 reads like a period piece of the 1950s, in 1975 not sure what it read like. The whole novel felt like one of those over stylized Wes Anderson flicks where every character is trapped In a world of their own quirky creation, except in the book everyone's a huge dick as well. I suppose it's all a satire of the usual 1950s stereotypes and as usual Dick makes everything very cerebral and cynica ...more
Frank D'hanis junior
Phil Dick wrote almost two hundred pages up to the point that Charley slaughters all of the animals in his yard. You can't but feel sick at your stomach, the way he describes the horse tumbling over and the look on the ewe's face, trying to protect its babies. I am quite sure that almost everything that precedes this sequence had been written in order to give this scene full effect. It's the work of a master of suspense and atmosphere. Great read. Too bad Dick is still largely ignored by mainstr ...more
David
This book is unlike the other PKD I have read so far. I wouldn't classify it as science fiction, because it is more of a general fiction story than anything. The closest Dick gets to science fiction in this book is a group of wackos that predict the end of the world and have regular seances. The story is about a young man, Jack Isidore, who believes in several crackpot ideas. Isidore believes that the earth is hollow and that sunlight has weight. During a difficult period of his life, his sister ...more
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Philip K. Dick was born in Chicago in 1928 and lived most of his life in California. He briefly attended the University of California, but dropped out before completing any classes. 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 Memo ...more
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“She makes life over, he realized. She controls life, whereas I just sit on my can and let it happen to me.” 11 likes
“The household was pervaded by this atmosphere of a calm adult woman and a man who gave into animal impulses. She reported to him in great detail what her analyst ... said about his binges and his hostility; she used Charley's money to pay Dr. Andrews to catalog his abnormalities. And of course Charley never heard anything directly from the doctor; he had no way of keeping her from reporting what served her and holding back what did not. The doctor, too, had no way of getting to the truth of what she told him; no doubt she only gave him the facts that suited her picture, so that the doctor's picture of Charley was based on what she wanted him to know. By the time she had edited both going and coming there was little of it outside her control.” 9 likes
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