John le Carré’s The Spy Who Came in From the Cold (1963) is a masterclass in intelligent, lean, ‘commercial’ fiction. He uses words efficiently. He uses them to tell a story. The technique is complete and always sufficient for the purpose. Never overkill.
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep is Philip K Dick’s 1968 post-apocalyptic novel. It’s a world where people synthetically ‘dial up’ their mood, aspire to keep a real animal as a pet, and organic androids (built as a slave class) are escaping from Mars to the earth.
In Hereditary (2018) a family disintegrates under pressure from external forces. It’s a force they’re unprepared for, unable to defend against. A force later revealed to be a paranormal entity. A power beyond their comprehension. An entity capable of extreme horror.
Texasville (1990) is the sequel to The Last Picture Show (1971). Thirty years later, Duane, a handsome young oil worker, is now a middle-aged father, a husband, and an oil business entrepreneur. His wife is an alcoholic, his children are running amok, and his dog is his only friend.
Whatever happened; has already happened. Now we’re looking back at the past, trying to make sense. This is what Saul Bellow’s novels, Herzog and Ravelstein set out to do. We can only make sense of the past if we understand the thoughts that people experienced. We have to go into the mind of a character, the ideas that motivated them. Saul Bellow was fascinated by these thoughts and ideas. How people live in worlds of ideas and conceptualisation.