I finally found the last Bukowski book I haven’t read yet: ‘Hollywood’. There it stood high atop a hill of books, a shining beacon into the dull, smoggy haze of my valley. It was right up there on the top shelf and a ladder climb was necessary to reach the damn thing. I asked the clerk at St.George’s Bookstore in P’berg if customers were allowed to climb the ladders and rummage through the top shelf books. ‘Break a leg’ he said. ‘Great,’ I thought, ‘at 260 lbs. I bloody well might.’
I climbed down the rickety ladder clutching ‘Hollywood’ in my cold, clammy palm (it was minus 5 outside and I sweat anyway. That’s how one gets cold and clammy palms.) I couldn’t believe it, so I had to say it out loud. “Wow! I finally found the last Bukowski book I haven’t read! I’ve been looking for years in every English language bookstore in Europe!’ The clerk flashed me an unimpressed smirk. Perhaps he was waiting for me to fall off the ladder to add some Vaudevillian amusement to his quiet bookstore wasted English degree life.
‘Hollywood’ was written by Monsignor Bukowski, the High Priest of the Low Life (I just made that up and I expect it to soon be added to his long list of titles, right under ‘The Drunk Poet Laureate’) while he was writing the screenplay for the biopic film ‘Barfly’ about his drunken life as a writer or his life as a drunken writer, not sure which. It’s a bit hazy (heh). I have always idolized Bukowski and the film ‘Barfly’ is considered by me and several of my closest friends to be the All Time Best Movie to Pass Out Watching After Drinking.
The book was also in the used section, which is unheard of for Bukowski books in the English language bookstores of Europe. Usually you can find a Bukowski book or two (usually ‘Ham on Rye’ or ‘Women’) for the nicely marked-up premium import price of 20 or 30 EUR per book. So I was doubly pleased to find ‘Hollywood’ at the nicely marked up, premium USED import price of only 6.50 EUR. Sure, that’s triple what you’d pay in any second hand bookstore in the States, but hey, we’re not.
Once I asked a Prague English bookstore clerk why I could never find any Bukowski, Kerouac or Hunter S. Thompson in the used section. And why they had only new ones hidden behind the counter, requiring me to ask about them every time and thereby looking like some kind of drunken wannabe writer stereotype. He flashed the international smirk of the wasted English degree clerk and said ‘Cuz lowlife mutha fuckas kept stealing them all.’
So now I have it in my grasp, the Holy Grail of Holy Shit, what promises to be a great mix of the bacchanalian excesses of one of the most famous modern writers and the cocaine-and-hooker-fueled corruption of the California Casting Couch.
I can’t wait. I’m almost afraid to crack open the damn book. Because the mother fucker just might be in Deutsch.