Bukowski's LA (1 Viewer)

cirerita

Founding member
Just received this book via Amazon.com. Haven't read it yet, but I just noticed that someone took a close look at this site's timeline ;)
 

Bukfan

"The law is wrong; I am right"
I see, mjp! Maybe I better wait till people here posts some reviews. There's lots of books about Buk out there, so I would'nt like to spend my money on the wrong books...
 
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mjp

Founding member
Okay, so maybe I was exaggerating. I have read a good deal of it. 75 pages. There are only 15 - 20 pages of "writing" left, so I think I've seen enough to give you my take.

I don't know the author, or if he hangs around here in the forum. I know he's been to the site many times. That's obvious. And as cirerita said, he mentions the site a couple of times in the book. But Mr. Jordan, if you are reading this, please hit the "back" button on your browser now.

Really.

I'm sure you're a swell guy, and I'd hate for you to read what I'm about to type and get all wound up and angry, and punch me in the nose at some hipster art show or something. Honestly! That's no way for an author to behave.

Okay. Is he gone?

Give him a few more seconds...I think he's still here...

Okay. Let's go.

---

The book reads like a rough draft of a junior high school class project. The writing is clumsy, dull, repetitive and chock full of contradictions, misinformation and errors. Not just errors in technical, only-Bukowski-geeks-would-give-a-shit kind of stuff, but errors like, oh, calling The Last Night of the Earth Poems, Last Night On Earth. Need I say more? Honestly, it is painful trying to slog through this thing. It's like a dozen half-assed paragraphs repeated over and over and over and stretched out to 100 pages.

A big section of the book is done in a kind of timeline fashion, but there is no rhyme or reason to how it is laid out. It starts in Andernach, then proceeds to hop back and forth between decades, places - I don't get it.

The "art" appears to have been done by a three year old with a fist full of broken ball point pens. Imagine the kind of drawings you might see on the covers of the notebooks of the imaginary junior high class who wrote the book. Only no one in the class has even a tiny shred of artistic interest, talent or ability. It's like that. Page after page of it. Just really, really, embarrassingly awful.

There are photos too. A lot of really dark photos of Hollywood corners taken in 2008 that have no relevance to anything. "Bukowski probably walked by here many times," one of the captions informs us. Wow. Cool. Some Sam Cherry photos pad out the end of the book. They are interesting because a few of them haven't been seen before, but they are not worth the price of admission. If you've read even one of the worst of the existing Bukowski biographies you don't need to see this book. It can only disappoint you.

I realize I'm not finished with the thing yet, but I'm close (it's like forcing down the last few bites of an inedible dinner because you don't want to insult your girlfriend's mother), and I gotta tell ya, I am wondering what the hell is the point of this book? I don't think that's necessarily a good thing to be wondering as you read. And it doesn't make for a glowing review. Sorry Mr. Jordan.

Oh, and if you are reading this, I want my $16 back. Thanks.
 

Bukfan

"The law is wrong; I am right"
Thanks for the review, mjp! I don't think I need to read anymore reviews...:eek:
 
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mjp

Founding member
You don't have to take my word for it, you can go to the link Gerard K H Love posted and read the first few pages, or hit the "surprise me" link to go further into the book. If you're lucky you'll see some of the great art.

Maybe some people won't think the text is so bad. Read an excerpt. Maybe I'm crazy, or just too picky.

But I do really believe that if you have read any other Bukowski bio, there's absolutely nothing in here for you. This is 100% rehash.
 

mjp

Founding member
How did you know that I say that each time I turn a page?! You must be psychic...

Roni, it may have been a good idea 15 or 20 years ago, but so much is gone now. You would have to find period photos, which is probably doable, but it sounds like a lot of work to me. ;)

The book kind of reminds me of the bus tour - going around in circles in Los Angeles looking for ghosts. "Well, this used to be here, and this used to be here...it's not here anymore, but Bukowski used to buy his toilet paper here..." It's sad. And pointless.
 

Bukfan

"The law is wrong; I am right"
You don't have to take my word for it, you can go to the link Gerard K H Love posted and read the first few pages, or hit the "surprise me" link to go further into the book. If you're lucky you'll see some of the great art.

Maybe some people won't think the text is so bad. Read an excerpt. Maybe I'm crazy, or just too picky.

But I do really believe that if you have read any other Bukowski bio, there's absolutely nothing in here for you. This is 100% rehash.

You're right, mjp! I just hit the "surprise me" button tree times and got to read about 12 pages before they stopped me from continuing. There was no real new info, unless you're interested in the history of Pioneer Chicken and similar stuff...
 
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[...] It's sad. And pointless.

it IS sad.


but not pointless:

You, being a native LA-guy, may not be able to feel this. for you, all these streets are part of your everyday-life. nothing special, part of your own world.
and all you see is, how much it had changed since the days of Bukowski.

me, living in a totally Different city, i was always hoping to see these places (even nowadays that they have changed), to get at least the slightest glimpse of what it COULD have been.
no matter how many documentary-bits i've seen, i never was able to get enough of it.

and when i was there last year, it was of great value to me.
even though all this changed so much. somehow it felt good.

there was Musso's, there was Carlton Way - with the building missing, there was DeLongpre - with the building still standing (now, you may get my point in the threads concerning the preservation of that building), there was his grave. There was the junction Hollywood/Western, there was East-Downtown with its bums on the streets at night and the cheap hotels where people rented a room with the toilet on the floor. All that.



people come to My hometown in thousands, to see medieval buildings and baroque buildings.
these sure have not much to do with the way they've been back then.
and when i was younger, i wasn't able to understand, what's so special about them, because i was used to walk among them every day.
but since i've started to become interested in history and archeology and art-history, i see these buildings from a different viewpoint. and i can see now, what people might find interesting and special in them.

and i guess, visiting Pompeji isn't much different either.
All these places have a right to be there. and to be visited and appreciated.

Amen.
 

hoochmonkey9

Art should be its own hammer.
Reaper Crew
Moderator
Founding member
I don't know about the text, I haven't read any of it yet, but the illustrations are crap.
I trust the judgment of the text.
this one can stay on the shelf. along with Hunchback of East L.A.
 

mjp

Founding member
you're sweet.
No, you make good points. I'm opinionated, but when I'm wrong, I admit it.





You know, unless I'm just not wrong. In which case I cannot be swayed. ;)

Hey, I never said it would be a barrel of laughs being my friend!

...this one can stay on the shelf. along with Hunchback of East L.A.
Oh shit, I forgot about that one. It is fair to put this one in the same category. Though Hunchback may be a bit more cohesive and polished.
 

Ponder

"So fuck Doubleday Doran"
RIP
I sold The Hunchback the other day. The buyer told me he had heard it is a great bio.
I didn't start a discussion with him.
 
I just have to watch "The Bukowski Tapes" where they take Charles on ride round LA and points out the areas that he's been to here and there.
 

Rekrab

Usually wrong.
Jeez, that reminds me I bought Hunchback and forgot to read it. From the glowing reviews, the L.A. book will be very far down my wish list of books to buy.
 

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