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Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said [Paperback]

Philip K. Dick
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)

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Book Description

June 29 1993 Vintage
>On October 11 the television star Jason Taverner is so famous that 30 million viewers eagerly watch his prime-time show. On October 12 Jason Taverner is not a has-been but a never-was -- a man who has lost not only his audience but all proof of his existence. And in the claustrophobic betrayal state of Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said, loss of proof is synonyms with loss of life.

Taverner races to solve the riddle of his disappearance", immerses us in a horribly plausible Philip K. Dick United States in which everyone -- from a waiflike forger of identity cards to a surgically altered pleasure -- informs on everyone else, a world in which omniscient police have something to hide. His bleakly beautiful novel bores into the deepest bedrock self and plants a stick of dynamite at its center.

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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

A TV celebrity of the near future suddenly finds that he has no identity in this SF variation on the amnesia novel, which suffers from an inadequate ending. Vintage also releases, for $10 each, Dick's Now Wait for Last Year (*-74220-4 ), about a doctor who is treating the world's most important and sickest man, and The World Jones Made (*-74219-0 ), about a fanatic clairvoyant.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.


"Dick [was] many authors: a poor man's Pynchon, an oracular postmodern, a rich product of the changing counterculture" Village Voice

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Customer Reviews

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I'll be buying more Phillip Dick novels... June 21 2004
This is my first Phillip K. Dick novel, and in my opinion "Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said" deserves high praise. For starters, it wins the fight against one of the most difficult opponents that a sci-fi novel could face: Cliché. Simply put, this story is based on an overused plot-the man who loses his identity and struggles to regain a sense of self. Cliche is a tough monster to beat, and most sci-fi novels are devoured by it boots and all. Going into this novel (which I read on a recommendation from a friend) I had low expectations, because I for one am sick to death of this particular premise. However, Phillip Dick somehow managed to actually win the battle against this tired fiction formula, and won me over in the process. He actually found, somehow, a unique way of telling the story. A very unique way.
It deserves kudos for this alone. Not the snack, but the regard and esteem.
Apart from being pleasantly surprised at Dick's ability to pull this story off, there is a lot more that deserves commendation, too... there's a like-him-hate-him anti hero, a wonderfully fleshed-out policeman (two, actually), and a manically bizarre "mini-heroine" that pops up to simultaneously help, hurt and hinder the protagonist, Jason Taverner.
Another aspect of the book that I enjoyed was Dick's writing style. The story is written upon a fine line between poetry and prose that often lulled me into a false sense of security. He managed on several occasions to make me say "wow" due to some particularly inspiring turn of phrase, or through some witty and poignant philosophical observation...
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5.0 out of 5 stars My solipsism is better than your solipsism... April 28 2004
The premise of this novel is that by taking a toxic drug called KR-3 one can become "unbound in space" and start to inhabit alternate spatial corridors branching off from the "real" one. When Alys Buckman, a malevolent, sadomasochistic power-tripper, thoroughly decadent in all matters of sex and drugs, takes KR-3, she is able to pull Jason Taverner, popular TV entertainer, into an alternate reality where no one except her knows who he is. Taverner's "star" status is the reference point for his reality, until he wakes up in a world where people think he's insane, suffering from delusions of grandeur. He's solipsistic because he incorrectly believes the world still revolves around him. But Alys is a solipsist who happens to be right, for she makes Jason a performer on the stage of her mind, and her mind only. Terrifyingly for Taverner, he must survive as a nonperson in a police state where to be caught without identification can mean spending the rest of one's life in a forced-labor camp. Interestingly, the policeman Felix Buckman, Alys's brother, is portrayed sympathetically, even though he represents the State that crushes individuals like butterflies under its heel. He is the character who finally discovers love as a redemptive force. Dick holds out empathy as the only salvation from the unforgiving human and existential forces that try to expunge one's identity and cast one into the outer darkness of insanity.
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5.0 out of 5 stars a vase that could launch a thousand ships March 4 2004
I thought the ending was fantastic. Not satisfying? Hardly. I found it to be entertainingly and purposefully glib, yet replete with serious meaning. Satisfying meaning. Meanings within meanings. Yes, one either gets and appreciates this sort of thing or one does not. Which isn't to say that anyone who 'gets it' has to 'get it' in exactly the same way. Such is the ambiguity of true art. It is, however, a well documented scientific fact that those who do not 'get' PKD are a lot less fun to have around at parties.
Flawed genius? Yes, maybe, but Dick was a creator of beautiful art, even if his art was, out of necessity, posing as pulp SF. But, hey, the absence of flaw in beauty is in ITSELF a flaw, as has been astutely noted.
Okay, yeah yeah yeah, what is real? What makes us human? That jazz has been thoroughly covered, and rightly so. But another one of the many, many (this IS by Dick, after all) admirable threads that tie all the characters of 'Flow My Tears' together is the ever-popular and universal theme of love...wanting to love, wanting to be loved, temporizing over love, gettin' some love (woo-hoo!), crazy-nutty-unrealistic love, incestuous love (whoa, didn't see THAT coming! Go Dick!), meaningless-life-draining-phone-oriented-cyber-love (curiously prophetic), losing one's love, having one's love stomped all over by forces that are beyond one's control. And, yes, we are INDEED living in a 'police state', my naively optimistic, overly pampered and isolated brothers and sisters. That's ALREADY true as blue, and getting worse.
But, in the end, not unlike so many real-life characters I've met, Dick's characters seem to never get enough love. And who can blame them? Not I. But, out of all the characters in 'Flow My Tears', do any of them actually find love? Yes! The beautiful blue vase was "much loved." Good for it! I'm satisfied. What? Yes, the blue vase DOES count as a character. It surely does. Oh, whatever. Please remind me never to invite you to any parties.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Peerless sci-fi from the master of surreality Feb. 5 2004
Once again, Philip K. Dick blends startling realism with surreal sci-fi. This time, the focus of his book is one Jason Taverner, TV star, singer and Six. One morning, Taverner wakes up to find himself in a low-grade motel he doesn't recognize. He quickly realizes that he has "vanished"-- all memory of him has been expunged, and he simply doesn't exist anymore, in a police state where not having an identity is a crime in itself.
The book begins by focusing fairly steadily on Taverner, a classic Dicksian protagonist. He is confused, disoriented, but profoundly in control of his desperate situation. After meeting up with a deranged identity forger, he finds himself at odds with the ubiquitous "police" that run people's everyday lives. However, at about this point Dick introduces Police General Felix Buckham and his fetishist sister Alys. The two are constantly at odds, the general's firm belief in rules clashing with Alys's firm belief in breaking them. Alys later becomes a more important character, as she "saves" Taverner after his second run-in with the general. After taking him to her house, she feeds him a hallucinogen, then goes to get him the counterdrug. Along the way, she dies, leaving Taverner the main suspect. He flees, and begins to realize that people know about him again. He hypothesizes that the drug she gave him was what had maintained his illusion of stardom, and that he was really just a nobody, a bum. I will not reveal the ending in this review, except to say that it far stranger than even Taverner believes.
PKD starts out strong with this one, but his focus begins to shift to Buckham later in the book.
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Most recent customer reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars interesting but painful read
I find PKD's ideas fascinating, thought-provoking, "far-out," you-name-it. He was clearly a cutting edge thinker. Read more
Published on July 14 2004 by JayMack
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't read the last chapter!
That is the only part of the book that I did not like. My favorite, as with all PKD books, are the characters themselves.
The characters are so deep I felt like I knew them. Read more
Published on July 7 2004 by G Smith
5.0 out of 5 stars I wrote this while shroomin'
Please do not read this if you are stupid. As is the case with most Dick, you have to look at the book sideways to fully comprehend it. Read more
Published on June 11 2004
4.0 out of 5 stars That last Part
This was an awsome book. In the usual Philip K Dick manner he explores the question of what is real. Read more
Published on April 21 2004 by SteelSearcher
4.0 out of 5 stars Solid, if not spectacular Dick
Phil Dick is an author that one either gets or doesn't get. His philosophical, paranoiac brand of science fiction both alienates many fans of "hard" science fiction and attracts... Read more
Published on Sept. 24 2003 by Bill R. Moore
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Read III
This was my first PK Dick book, and i read it mostly because of the mention in waking life and the ruvry title. Read more
Published on July 9 2003 by fat_runner
4.0 out of 5 stars Great introduction to the author
I have been interested in reading Philip K. Dick for some time now, after realizing he was the original author behind two of my favorite science fiction films, "Total Recall" and... Read more
Published on June 8 2003 by The Gooch
4.0 out of 5 stars What it means to be human
I have read a lot of PKD's works and have always found that his short stories are stronger than his novels. Read more
Published on June 1 2003 by Mars Villion
3.0 out of 5 stars A strange and psychedelic book.
From the beginning this book reads like a drug induced hallucination. Jason Taverner loses his identity and finds himself caught in limbo in a controlled police state where those... Read more
Published on April 30 2003 by Sailoil
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