Best Bukowski Novel

For me, in order of preference:

1. Hollywood - a terrific take on the roman a clef genre
2. Pulp - another genre spin (the title says it all) and a very underrated Bukowski work
3. Factotum - an ode to the workingman's blues, gripping despite the redundant nature of the narrative
 
I agree with postino's sentiment about liking them all for different reasons. The novels have all been so important to me for different reasons that it is difficult to separate my feeling at the time from my sense of the books. With that said, I'd have to say that Factotum had and has the greatest impact on me.
 
Women, by far. such a good novel.
Butttttt for short stories Hot Water Music was ace. I liked that one a lot.
Read it in two days.
Hollywood is good.
Gosh, all of em are good.
But out of the ones I've read, Ham on Rye, Post Office, Women, Hollywood, Hot Water Music and Pulp.
I gotta go with Women as the best.
 
Thanks for the help everyone. I am going to get started on his poetry, right after I can find a copy of "Burning in Water, Drowning in Flame." Can't wait...

Also, this may have been posted, but what does everyone think about "Septuagenarian Stew?" I just bought it and wondered what to expect before I begin reading it...
 
Poetry: The Roominghouse Madrigals rocks. One of my faves of all Buk's works... Always wanted to be a madrigalist - but never made it...living in the wrong century and all...
 

Bukfan

"The law is wrong; I am right"
Also, this may have been posted, but what does everyone think about "Septuagenarian Stew?" I just bought it and wondered what to expect before I begin reading it...
"Septuagenarian Stew" has many great poems in it. Some of the short stories are great too, such as f.ex., "Bring Me Your Love". It's a good book! I think you'll enjoy it...
 
My first was "Factotum" in Danish, but my favorite is Ham On Rye or Post Office. The storytelling was excellent in those books! The poems never did much for me, even though some take my breath away...
 
Pulp is a great novel. It has Buk's humour written all over it; quick witty one liners, plenty of balls, etc. I laughed right through, even when he got bored and brought it all to a sudden end.. It's all one big joke! And I can imagine him at his desk writing it, smoking, drinking, thinking, 'yeah, fuck it, I'll put that in...'

Finally got hold of a Region two copy of barfly and it's not writer protect...but it cost me, so no, you go find your own. It's taken me years to seek the bastard out!

Pulp's hilarious, the scene with the guy (Groover?) sitting at his desk for five minutes in silence because they both thought the other was going to speak... brilliant. I imagine it will be a lot of people's least favourite because it's more fictional than his other works, but it could well be my favourite. Read it in about two sittings.

By the way, Barfly is on YouTube these days, in several languages.
 

Pogue Mahone

Officials say drugs may have played a part
I just re-read Pulp for the first time since it came out and I have to admit I liked it. I remember not liking it at all when I was younger, but this time around I knew a lot more about Bukowski than I did back then. I think the main character fit him well. I always imagined him as a down and out private detective type anyway. Not his best work by far, but it was simple fun. I think he was looking for a higher meeting and he just didn't have time to quite get it all worked out... but I could have just missed it too.

I also just re-read Hollywood for the first time in 20 years and I liked it better than the first time around too. The one thing I didn't like at first was his wife being in just about every part. But then I realized Bukowski may have done that on purpose because he also didn't like having her around so much during the filming of the movie. There's a tension there, whether he meant it or not. He's always been such a loner in his short stories and novels that it seemed weird to have one where he was so damn... domesticated.
 

hoochmonkey9

Art should be its own hammer.
Moderator
Founding member
I check the Criterion site a few times a month expecting to see it in their 'upcoming releases' section.
 
Barfly [...] it's not exactly cheap to buy a legit copy, but you can find them [...]
the Germans can have one for 20,- EUR (approx 27.- USD) coming with a Bonus-DVD containing 1 hour of Bukowski-Tapes.

Barfly_2disc-cover.jpg
 
Okay, since the thread is revived I'm adding my vote for Factotum.

It is an excellently constructed novel with very few weak parts. The episodic nature as well as the "repetitive" scenes give an excellent background for Chinaski's character to reveal himself. Not only that, but the development of each episode has a "punch" that feels satisfying.
 
Plus it has one of the best bits of dialog ever in a novel:

"You married, Manny?"
"No way."
"Women?"
"Sometimes. But it never lasts."
"What's the problem?"
"A woman is a full-time job. You have to choose your profession."
"I suppose there is an emotional drain."
"Physical too. They want to fuck night and day."
"Get one you like to fuck."
"Yes, but if you drink or gamble they think that it's a put-down of their love."
"Get one who likes to drink, gamble and fuck."
"Who wants a woman like that?"

I'm riding in that car for this. Talk about putting the reader into the situation. And it's set up perfectly. No need for the "I said," "he conjectured" BS. People talk, often negatively, about the simplicity of Buk's writing and this is a perfectly good example of how that simplicity makes the reader enter the scene rather than reading about the scene. The punch line isn't bad either.
 
Great example. The passage really makes a point about the difference in perspective between Hank and other people.

Example 2. Manny and Hank arrive at the horse track:

Manny locked the car. We started running. Manny opened up six lengths on me in the parking lot. We ran through an open gate and down into the tunnel. Manny held his six lengths through the tunnel, which at Hollywood Park is a long one. Coming out of the tunnel and into the track proper, I closed up on Manny until I was only five lengths back. I could see the horses at the gate. We sprinted toward the betting windows....
But it was still a rough ride every afternoon to make the last race. The crowd got to know us as we came running out of that tunnel, and every afternoon they were waiting. They cheered and waved racing forms, and the cheers seemed to grow louder and we went past them on the dead run to the betting windows.

There's a parallel between the characters running to the track and the horses racing. I'm not even sure what this literary technique is called. It's genius, whatever it is.
 

mjp

Founding member
I'm not even sure what this literary technique is called.
I think it's called "being a good writer."

Some people study things, then try to do those things. Other people just have the ability to do things. Innate talent. The former are common and create the mountains of common things that surround us. The latter are much less common, and create most of the things we consider "great."

You brought up parallels, so here's one I was thinking about a few minutes before I hit this thread. The Internet grew as quickly and wildly as it did because of innovations by people who did not come from business schools. They did not know the rules of business, so they weren't limited by them. Pure creativity and problem solving unhindered by a lot of "but then what?" questions.

What inevitably happens to an Internet creation that gets big enough to become a business is they are forced to bring in business experts (they call it "adult supervision"). But that adult supervision happens after the fact of creation. The creation and innovation would not happen if the creators were under adult supervision from the beginning (or if those adults started the business).

Can someone who studies literature write great literature? I don't know. Maybe they can. I don't have a lot of books on my shelves written by those kinds of people. Just like I don't have a lot of records made by Berklee Music College graduates. Education and creation are two different things. I'm not saying they are mutually exclusive, but I think there's a world full of evidence that suggests that education has little or nothing to do with creativity.
 

Skygazer

And in the end...
There's a parallel between the characters running to the track and the horses racing. I'm not even sure what this literary technique is called. It's genius, whatever it is.
Is it not perhaps an analogy?
But I agree with you 5:28am; it is a beautiful piece of writing.

Education and creation are two different things. I'm not saying they are mutually exclusive, but I think there's a world full of evidence that suggests that education has little or nothing to do with creativity.
Agreed: How else cold you explain prodigies?
Often formal education inhibits creativity. An example that affected me, was in reading of a class of 5 yr olds who were asked to draw the most beautiful exotic birds they could think of using their imagination: the work that the children produced was amazing, inventive and unique.
A further class was asked to do the same, only they had been "taught" and given instructions and shown pictures of beautiful birds; then told to do their own drawings: the result was that the children produced work that was timid, self conscious and a copy of the pictures they had seen. There self confidence and imagination had been inhibited by being formally "educated" prior to their work.
 

mjp

Founding member
You could say the same about religion. If a child was never indoctrinated, would they even conjure up the idea of an omnipotent "god"? And even if they did, what kind of crazy thing would it look like?
 
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