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Pulp
by Charles Bukowski
From Booklist:
"My eyes were blue and my shoes were old and nobody loved me. But I had things to do. I was Nicky Belane, private detective." You should know a few things about Mr. Belane: he's the hero of a novel "dedicated to bad writing" by the late cult favorite Charles Bukowski; his client is a femme fatale called Lady Death; and his assignment is to determine if the Louis-Ferdinand Celine-look-alike who's hanging out at Red Koldowsky's bookstore in Hollywood is really the French writer who supposedly died in 1961 or if he's just another weirdo. It's hard to tell for sure if Bukowski intends to celebrate the pulps or parody them--probably a little of both--but the result, like so much genre burlesque, is both hysterically funny and ultimately tiresome. Parodies are best handled in 20, not 200, pages. Still, nobody does down-and-out better than Bukowski: "I hated to look in the mirror but I did. And I saw depression and defeat. . . . My flesh looked like it wasn't trying. It looked like it hated being part of me." Finally, Bukowski can't quite decide if he wants to be Woody Allen writing a fiendishly clever parody of pulp writers, or if he just wants to be himself, the unreconstructed poet of the gutter whose work usually finds its emotional center somewhere between tears and laughter. Mainstream mystery readers won't have a clue what's going on here, but Bukowski's fans, probably a little bent themselves, will know instinctively when to laugh with Woody and cry with Charlie. Bill Ott
 
 

 Topic: 
      PULP by Charles Bukowski (1 of 4), Read 10 times 
 Conf: 
      READING LIST BOOKS 
 From: 
      Edd Houghton (eddh@pacbell.net) 
 Date: 
      Wednesday, March 14, 2001 02:54 AM 




"The detective in this story is working for Lady Death, is
chasing down aliens, is drinking too much and is putting
forth some of the greatest and funniest dialogue that you'll
ever read in a detective story. Bukowski was a prolific writer,
and this I believe was his last novel." 



I thought I would start this discussion by repeating the blurb
that I wrote as a recommendation. It seems to have worked as a
sales pitch, and I hope it will work as a starting point in the
discussion. 


EDD

 
Topic: PULP by Charles Bukowski (2 of 4), Read 11 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Sherry Keller (shkell@starband.net) Date: Wednesday, March 14, 2001 06:43 AM Thanks for getting it started, Edd. I finished it yesterday, and you're certainly right about the dialogue. I also loved the dedication. Sherry
Topic: PULP by Charles Bukowski (3 of 4), Read 7 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Kay Dugan (okaychatt@yahoo.com) Date: Wednesday, March 14, 2001 08:10 AM This is a terrific send up of detective fiction. All the clichés are there - mysterious female clients, a macho detective down on his luck and very lonely, lots of liquor, some deep thoughts, and clever repartée. Oh, and always an anti hero, cool under pressure. His ability to confuse the thugs was outstanding. "Who did you vote for?" indeed! Ha! One of the things that cracked me up was his insistence on that outrageous $6/hr fee of his. Didn't have a clue, did he? (Pun intended.) What are the rest of Bukowski's books like? Do they have the same kind of cynical edge as this one?
Topic: PULP by Charles Bukowski (4 of 4), Read 3 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Sherry Keller (shkell@starband.net) Date: Wednesday, March 14, 2001 08:49 AM The $6/hr. thing got funnier every time he said it. I loved it when he corrected the bad guy's grammar to. For some reason I kept thinking of Roger Rabbit, because everyone had this cartoon, bigger than life (or Death) look to them. Sherry Topic: PULP by Charles Bukowski (30 of 32), Read 31 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: S. Bohinka (bohinka@riconnect.com) Date: Saturday, March 24, 2001 10:05 PM I finished Pulp a couple days ago. Dan & Ruth: >>Funny you should mention the ending--it is a peculiar ending, n'est-ce pas? All of sudden, this humorous novel starts getting serious, or at least it did to me. The *way* it ended, I think was the most surprising. A foreshadowing of his own death? (Was Bukowski sick, I don't recall?) Everything was cartoonish/cariacaturish until then in a lot of ways. Sherry, >>I agree, Dan. I think any "meaningfulness" is part of the irony. I felt like he was losing steam by the time he got to the Red Sparrow. Like he was trying to tie up loose plot ends and didn't have the heart to be as funny about them. Either that or I got tired of the style of the book by then. Lynn, >But, you gotta look carefully. You have to have read Buk before. This is not for first time readers. Dont read this book until you have read alot of Bukowski. Only then will you enjoy it." I think this was the case for me. I *continually* felt like I was missing something. I caught the title of the Fante book "ask the dust" in that one line near the beginning and felt like all the rest of the book must be like this, with me missing something. Like what book did the Space Alien come from, etc.? I also wanted to know which other authors he was spoofing. I don't tend to read too many hard-boiled mysteries so I also felt like I was missing the subtleties of which author his sparse lines were cariacaturing. Felt like I missed a lot. Bo
Topic: PULP by Charles Bukowski (31 of 32), Read 32 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Lynn Isvik (washualum@yahoo.com) Date: Saturday, March 24, 2001 10:19 PM Bo, If I remember correctly, I read somewhere that this WAS Bukowski's last book and that he was aware that it would be. I was surprised by the ending too, until I thought about it a little more. It seemed to be in line with the "alien connection" and the focus on Death, but it was a little abrupt in my opinion. Lynn
Topic: PULP by Charles Bukowski (32 of 32), Read 27 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Sunday, March 25, 2001 08:31 PM Yes, it was Bukowski's last book, and he died of leukemia, so he probably had plenty of warning. I'm sure that's why he wrote the ending the way he did. Ruth “Time held me green and dying though I sang in my chains like the sea." Dylan Thomas Fern Hill

 

 
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