Monday, January 30, 2012

The Last Bukowski Book

 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.


  1. Speaking of books (and Hollywood), I've got a book on my Kindle, gifted from the author, that made me think of you. Because of the books you enjoy...not the drunk Here's a blurb of the book, entitled The Long Drunk, by Eric Coyote:

    "Inspired by Chandler, Steinbeck, and Quentin Tarantino, THE LONG DRUNK tells the story of a homeless alcoholic who must solve a cold-case murder in order to save his best friend's life. Set in the gutters, bars, and alleys of Venice, California, this darkly comic crime/detective saga is filled with sex, violence, booze, and plenty of foul street talk. It is hard-boiled, heartbreaking, gritty as hell, and thoroughly immerses the reader in the squalid yet resourceful underworld of the down-and-out. By juxtaposing the cruel realities of life on the street with the obscene wealth of the Hollywood elite, Coyote has created a ultra noir masterpiece for the ages. THE LONG DRUNK will leave you crying, laughing, and begging for more."

    I thought it might grab you at the "noir" part, or the mention of Quentin Tarantino. I was also thinking of Hunter S. Thompson, too.

  2. Well, those fellows are indeed part of my rogue's gallery of favorite authors (and a maverick filmmaker thrown in to boot). I'll have to check out 'The Long Drunk.' Maybe I'll shell out for one of those Kindle things; gotta be cheaper than flushing 8-10 bux a pop for imported used books in Germany.


  3. My next two Buk books are on the way, by tuk tuk. Still less than a week since I discovered him. His books I mean. His body wasn't in our basement.

  4. Another satisfied Bukowski convert. Soon you'll be swilling, swigging and swingin' yer fists like a pro. Guten apetit!