Gather Yourselves Together published 1994

Gather Yourselves Together is Dick’s first novel, written in the early 1950s but not published until 1994. An American metals company located in China is bought by the Chinese and three employees stay behind on the company’s premises in order to facilitate the transfer to the new owners.

Gather Yourselves Together
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Through flashbacks we find out Verne had a prior relationship with Barbara back in the U.S., and we learn that Carl is socially immature. He’s twenty-three but characterized more like someone closer to sixteen. It feels like a book written by someone only guessing how adult relationships work.

Cast of characters

  • Carl Fitter, Barbara Mahler and Verne Tildon– our three protagonists
  • Penny and Felix – Barbara’s friends in Castle
  • Don Field – Verne’s acquaintance… Teddy’s boyfriend before she jumps ship to Verne
  • Teddy – Verne’s girlfriend
  • Bill Herndon – Verne’s other passenger on the way back to NY from Castle
  • Jimmy Petio – Carl’s friend from summer camp when he was twelve
  • Harry Liu – the Chinese man who arrives to make sure everything is in order before the changeover to the new owners

Other things to know

  • The American Metals Development Company – aka ‘the Company’
  • Castle – a resort town up the coast from Boston
  • The Walker Club – a jazz club in NY

In Milton Lumky Territory published 1985

Milton Lumky was great. I don’t mean the book was great, because it wasn’t, but the character of Milton Lumky was terrific. It’s too bad he is only in his eponymous book for about forty pages.

In Milton Lumky Territory
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Twenty-four-year-old Bruce Stevens passes through his small hometown near Boise, Idaho. At a party there he meets Susan Faine. Turns out she was his fifth grade teacher, but they get married even though she’s eleven years older than him. Bruce quits his job at a discount department store in Reno, and he helps her run her mimeograph shop in Boise.

On a tip from the traveling salesman Milton Lumky, Bruce picks up a load of imported typewriters in Seattle to sell in their store, but he neglects to notice they have a Spanish keyboard. First he tries to unload them to his old discount shop without telling them about the keyboards, but when Susan alerts his old boss, Bruce tries to change the keyboards over to a standard keyboard himself so he and Susan can still sell them for a profit. Behind Bruce’s back Susan arranges for his old boss to buy the typewriters from them, and even though they would break even, Bruce gets angry and leaves. The story wraps up on Bruce’s daydream where he imagines he and Susan open a shop in Denver after the success of their Boise store.

According to Dick’s foreword: ‘The ending is a happy one. What more can an author say? What more can he give?’

Cast of characters

  • Bruce ‘Skip’ Stevens – our protagonist
  • Susan Faine – owns a mimeograph shop in Boise. Bruce’s former fifth grade teacher
  • Peg Googer – Bruce’s old girlfriend
  • Ed von Scharf – Bruce’s boss at the C.B.B. discount department store in Reno
  • Zoe de Lima – Susan’s business parter at R & J Mimeographing Service
  • Taffy – Susan’s seven-year-old daughter
  • Milton Lumky – a traveling salesmen in the western U.S.
  • Cathy Hermes – Lumky’s friend in Pocatello, Idaho

Voices from the Street published 2007

Voices from the Street is one of Dick’s very first novels. I was surprised to see it hadn’t been published until 2007. It’s better in my opinion than most of his other mainstream works that were published in the ‘80s, although it’s been cut down considerably to 300 pages from the original 650+ page manuscript.

Voices from the Street
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Twenty-five-year-old Stuart Hadley drifts aimlessly through the summer of 1952 in Oakland. He works as a salesman at Modern TV Sales and Service, dabbles with a religious group, finds himself involved with a woman who publishes a political magazine and has a complete breakdown after he gets promoted to manager of the TV store.

I thought this one was interesting. I could identify with Hadley’s existential crisis, at least until he goes crazy and becomes a rage monster. In the end the world defeats Hadley. He survives but without the passion of his earlier dreams.

Cast of characters

  • Jim Fergesson – owner of Modern TV Sales and Service. Jim Fergesson is also the owner of Modern TV Sales and Service in Dr. Bloodmoney and it’s the name of the mechanic in Humpty Dumpty in Oakland
  • Alice Fergesson – Jim’s wife
  • Stuart Hadley – salesman at Modern TV Sales and Service
  • Ellen Hadley – Stuart’s wife
  • Theodore Beckheim – speaker for the Society of the Watchmen of Jesus
  • Olsen – serviceman at Modern TV Sales and Service
  • Joe Tampini – salesman at Modern TV Sales and Service
  • Dave Gold – Hadley’s Jewish left-wing college friend
  • Laura Gold – Dave’s wife
  • Marsha Frazier – editor of the political magazine Succubus
  • Horace Wakefield – runs a flower shop near Modern TV Sales and Service
  • Sally Sorrell – Stuart’s sister
  • Bob Sorrell – Sally’s husband