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Confessions of a Crap Artist

3.68  ·  Rating details ·  4,337 ratings  ·  277 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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Dec 27, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
May 05, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2018, fiction
"Science in baffled by the unreason of the hoi polloi. The moods of the mass can't be fathomed, that's a fact."
- Philip K. Dick, Confessions of a Crap Artist


Jack Isadore is a bit a lune. He believes in crack-pot theories about the end of the world, has funky obscessions and ticks. He's a couple nuts short of being a fruit cake. Eventually, he ends up living with his rich sister and her husband. With them, Jack discovers he isn't the only crazy one. It seems most people, even those who seem to ha
J.K. Grice
Oct 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
If nothing else, Dick has some of the most original titles in the book world. I'm always impressed by his philosophies, humor, and characters. CONFESSIONS OF A CRAP ARTIST was a powerful read for me.
Pavel Kravchenko
Apr 25, 2010 rated it liked it
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
Sean Blake
Nov 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
We are all crap artists

Confessions of a Crap Artist is fantastically well-written novel by Philip K. Dick. A novel of two halves, one of a small-town Californian domestic drama, the other an analysis of post-Roswell paranoia in America, it contains some of Philip K. Dick's best writing. Despite not being one of his popular science fiction tales, this realist novel contains all the philosophical depth, pondering and Freudian insight found in his most popular books.
Jimmy Ele
Aug 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is an underrated gem. P.K.D. writing from the different perspectives of all the characters in the story is insightful, in that it gives us access into the subtleties of human perception. The story gets treated from varying perspectives and so it gives us the story from several angles. All of the judgments that the characters make about themselves and others are indicative of the judgmental and reasoning factors inherent in the minds of all human beings.

We tend to judge ourselves and others
Jan 23, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: crap artist
There's a great French film based on this book, too. Check out "Barjo"
Jul 31, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: old-favorites
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.
Oct 23, 2007 rated it liked it
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
Nov 04, 2012 rated it liked it
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
Feb 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
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
Aug 24, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Sep 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 05, 2017 rated it liked it
" doesn't seem to me that I should be the only person who has to bear the onus of believing an admittedly ridiculous notion. All I want is to see the blame spread around fairly."

And thus we have Confessions of a Crap Artist - the novel that makes transparent all of the little insanities that we conceal so well! Obviously, being a Philip K. Dick novel, it's a little out there - even the most normal character, Nathan Anteil, somehow manages to find himself in love with the most conventionally
Eddie Watkins
May 01, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: american-fiction
The only "straight" novel of Dick's I've read. It's also one of his best. Reading this you can see that his ability to portray a specific time and place through the intimate portrayal of his character's thoughts and habits is what makes his "out there" novels so great.
Jack Stovold
Jun 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Christian Schwoerke
This is the second of Dick’s non-sf novels that I’ve read, the first being In Milton Lumky Territory, which I read five years ago. I still remember the arc of that novel and some specific details and scenes, which testify to Dick’s ability to practice contemporary literary realism with unexpected skills. The current Confessions is no less interesting for its take on some ordinary aspects of life in the late 1950s (1959, in particular).

Where I quibble with the multiple point-of-view story that Di
Scott Holstad
Mar 05, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: sci-fi, philip-k-dick
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
Aug 24, 2018 rated it liked it
This is a book by Philip K. Dick--but it's not science fiction! So, a little disappointing, but the story is of some interest as it's Dick pointing out--yet again--the absurdity of life. Dick ( born in 1928 in Chicago, IL and died in 1982 in Santa Ana, CA) wrote a series of "mainstream" novels in the 50s that were all rejected. "Confessions of a Crap Artist," written in 1959, was finally published in 1975. Jack Isidore is the "crap artist," so named by his brother-in-law because he's a collecto ...more
Jan 29, 2008 rated it really liked it
(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
Mar 07, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
May 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
Told from multiple viewpoints, Confessions of a Crap Artist is one of Philip K Dick’s regular fiction books, as opposed to the science fiction novels and short stories that he is famous for. This book has all the typical connotations found in most of his stories, including a protagonist believing bizarre facts and a deceptive and sly female character.

Jack Isidore, the titular Crap Artist of the story, is a socially awkward man living in his own universe and is captivated by weird bits of informa
Apr 23, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
so interesting to read a non science fiction from philip k dick; but he seems well prepared to take on the form, set in the 1950's in northern california. there are a handful of players - a man, barely able to keep himself together, his (fairly) affluent sister and her husband and their two daughters, and a young married couple who move to north west marin, the setting for the examination of civilization and its discontents. a rather bleak tale unfolds, told from the perspective of the central c ...more
Nov 29, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2018-challenge
3.5. I am not sure what I just read however, it was interesting, disturbing and matter of fact. For something different ... I recommend it.
Aug 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I have a hard time with Philip K. Dick sometimes. I admire him as a person and find him almost infinitely fascinating--in theory I should love all of his work, but I don't. He's an extremely uneven writer and sometimes it feels like he's not interested in the characters, but the idea behind the book. This can make starting some of his works difficult, but this one (unexpectedly) swept me away. I was unaware that PKD had written any mainstream literary fiction until I bought this book.

Aug 06, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the first of PKD's efforts at mainstreaming his storytelling, that is to say, focusing many of his preoccupations in somewhat naturalistic, non-sci-fi situations. The obsessions remain -- mental illness, the complexities of human relations, conspiracy theories, and greater San Francisco, primarily rural Marin County, CA. This is the story of Faye and Charley -- a domineering wife, kind of a gold-digger, her angry but successful husband, and her slightly nuts brother Jack, the crap artist ...more
Chris Craddock
Apr 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: beale
Hey, Jack Isadore, the titular 'crap artist' belongs to a UFO cult that had him pick the date for the end of the world as April 23. That is in 4 days! But I just wanted to check out what people said & looked on Wikipedia, but there should have been a spoiler alert. Anyway, read 1/2 of book in 1 day. Love it. Should be done either today or tomorrow. NY Primary today. Go Hillary. This is not Science Fiction, but Jack Isadore, is somewhere on the Autistic spectrum, Assberger's Syndrome or close to ...more
Jun 25, 2012 rated it it was ok
Dick is a bit out of his element here. Constrained by a setting which is almost believable, all of Dick's fantastic talents shrivel up and die under the weight of a close approximation of humdrum reality. This is Dick's pathetic attempt to write in someone else's voice: the voice of a successful mainstream writer that he had no hope of becoming.

I am reminded of a story I read about Astor Piazzolla, the brilliant progenitor of Tango Nuevo, who studied under the inestimable tutor of a whole genera
Sep 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I always thought this was one of the best PKD novels, and it is one of my favorites in general and of all time. It’s about Jack, his sister Fay, and her husband Charley. I like this book because the irony is humorous, or was to me at the time at least. Jack is taken to be autistic or special because of his interests and beliefs, which were facilitated through reading science fiction as a kid. One such idea is that he believed sunlight had weight, which was something he read in a Boy’s Magazine. ...more
Feb 26, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: lit-mod
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
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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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