Pulp: A Novel by Charles Bukowski is one of the most interesting and enjoyable books I have read.
It’s irreverent, witty, hilarious and sad. It’s sad because the author knew he was dying from leukemia at the time of writing. The book reflects his own life. The setting is LA, the city he knew intimately, and some of the characters are based on real people he knew. And, possibly some of the imaginary way-out characters were based on people he knew. I have the delightfully named Jennie Nitro in mind as one such character. As for Lady Death, that one speaks for itself.
It parodies a style and an age of LA-noir private detectives or “dicks” as he refers to them in a reflection of that era. He has an office. What dick wouldn’t? He writes. There is a gun in the top drawer and he tips a brown derby over his left eyebrow as he leaves the office often to find himself a bar stool, a scotch and water, and invariably picking a fight with some character or another in the bar.
Some of the characters are outlandish such as the heavy who wears a pink suit. His two “gorillas” also wear suits of the same hue. A bit like Tweedledum and Tweedledee in triplicate. The surreal nature of parts of the book reminded me of ‘Alice In Wonderland.’ It was like reading a book and tripping on acid, not that I have done that.
There are way too many hilarious or poignant parts of this book for me to quote here. It would probably breach copyright if I reproduced the score or so wonderful lines from the book. I will restrict myself to a one of favourites, and that’s not easy:
“I was gifted, am gifted. Sometimes I looked at my hands and realized that I could have been a great pianist or something. But what have my hands done? Scratched my balls, written checks, tied shoes, pushed toilet levers, etc. I have wasted my hands. And my mind.”
Wonderful! I wish he was still alive. I’d love to meet him, get drunk with him. Wonderful book. Wonderful writer!
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