Dark, black, blank eyes underneath a hood. Ham On Rye.

Hi guys, I just joined this forum today. I only recently discovered Bukowski & I think he's unbelievable. I just finished reading "Ham On Rye", which is an amazing novel. One part of the book that stuck out to me, amongst other things, and really creeped me out is when Hank awakens in his bed and sees someone/something lurching over him.

"I never slept on my back. But when I awakened I was on my back and it surprised me. My legs were bent at the knees in front of me, making a mountain-like effect with the blankets. And as I looked at the blanket-mountain before me I saw two eyes staring at me. Only the eyes were dark, black, blank…looking at me from underneath a hood, a black hood with a sharp tall peak, like a ku-klux-klansman. They kept staring at me, dark blank eyes, and there was nothing I could do about it. I was truly terrified. I thought, it’s God but God isn’t supposed to look like that.

I couldn’t stare it down. I couldn’t move. It just stayed there looking at me over the mound of my knees and the blanket. I wanted to get away. I wanted it to leave. It was powerful and black and threatening. It seemed to remain there for hours, just staring at me.

Then it was gone…

I stayed in bed thinking about it.

I couldn’t believe that it had been God. Dressed like that. That would be a cheap trick."

Is it God, the devil, something else? I appreciate any feedback and I am really happy to connect with fellow Bukowski lovers.

Peace from Toronto, Canada.

Vassilis
 

Purple Stickpin

Over 5000 posts
Welcome, Vassilis. Let me offer no more than my opinion on what you've asked. First, to set the context, Buk excelled, to varying degrees, in three important formats:
  1. The poem;
  2. The novel; and
  3. The short story.
My take is that the top of this list represents his greatest in-touch with reality, notwithstanding his use of poetic license. As we get to the novels, I get the sense (mainly from repeated readings of his poems and novels as well as the material I have found on this very website) that he started to diverge from reality somewhat. By the time we get to the short stories, they tend to be off in fantasy land, which a few notable exceptions, including:
  1. All the Assholes in the World and Mine;
  2. Life and Death in the Charity Ward; and
  3. The Birth, Life and Death of an Underground Newspaper.
I suppose that there certainly must be exceptions to my generalities, but my point is that, once we get past the poems (which is really where his key input to the history of literature lies), we need to be a bit more skeptical about the rationale or sources for the basis of the work (if we feel compelled to verify the historical accuracy - and here's where I say unequivocally that we do not). That's not to say that the work is not valid or even brilliant, but it's more detached from his actual experience. My personal take on the extract that you posted, which is indeed an odd departure from his usual style, strikes me as a way of explaining that he was always confronted by demons, but perhaps not as he explained it in your extract.
 

Black Swan

Abord the Yorikke!
Over 1000 posts
About that hooded figure...
My husband once told me, a long time ago, that something like that had happened to him. He was laying in a room, the door opened and there was a hooded figure looking at him for a while. Then it was gone...
Just as in Bukowski's story.
He could have had a dream but to him it was real. :die:
 

mjp

Your Host
Moderator
Founding member
Over 5000 posts
When he was younger, Bob Marley said he was harassed by spirits (duppies). Rita (not yet his wife) dismissed it and kind of ridiculed him about it. Then apparently she spent a night in his room and got attacked by the duppy and changed her tune...

Of course that was in Jamaica, where fiction and reality are much blurrier than any Bukowski novel.

duppy.png
 
About that hooded figure...
My husband once told me, a long time ago, that something like that had happened to him. He was laying in a room, the door opened and there was a hooded figure looking at him for a while. Then it was gone...
Just as in Bukowski's story.
He could have had a dream but to him it was real. :die:
Are you married to Gary Busey? Ha. Ha. Ha. He said he was in the hospital after a bad motorcycle wreck and the grim reaper was hanging around the doorway.
 
Top