Hollywood - need help understanding Chapter 26 (1 Viewer)

Hi all, new to the forum. I did a pretty extensive search to see if this had already been asked/discussed and came up empty, so I do apologise if this has been covered before.

I have just finished Hollywood, great book, a lot more light hearted than the other Buk books I have read (Ham or Rye, Women, You Get So Alone at Times That It Just Makes Sense...) but I am a little confused about Chapter 26 and wanted to reach out to people who are hopefully a lot smarter than I am.

Hollywood (for those who havent read it) is about Henry Chinaski and his dealings in Hollywood while trying to get a screen play made into a film. In other words, Bukowski's experieces while trying to get Barfly made. So Bukowski is writing as his alter ego Henry Chinaski; in Chapter 26 it talks about Henry Chinaski, the fictional character, being owned by another studio. Henry Chinaski is talking about Henry Chinaski being his own alter ego in the written works of... Henry Chinaski. Is this a mistake? Shouldn't Bukowski have come up with a third name, the name of the main character and alter ego in works of Henry Chinaski?

From Hollywood:

'...Apparently there is a well known director who claims he has the dramatic rights to all the works about Henry Chinaski. "There is nothing I can do." He told me. "The deal is off."'

Henry Chinaski was the name I had used for my main character in my various novels. I had used the name again in the screenplay.

'What is this bullshit?' I asked.
'It's not bullshit. You have sold the rights to the Henry Chinaski character.'

**End**

And as I mentioned, this book is about Henry Chinaski. The main character in Hollywood is referred to as Henry, Chinaski and Hank throughout the story.

So yeah, little help please!
 

hank solo

Just practicin' steps and keepin' outta the fights
Moderator
Founding member
Erm... okay. So what, you want a fictional-fictional-alter-alter-ego?

Bukowski got used to using the HC alias for his 'autobiographical' character... so his autobiographical self was writing a book about how his real self was... no wait... he wrote a fictional novel about an autobiographical... no... erm...

Bukowski sold the movie rights for 'Post Office' to Taylor Hackford. Hackford's lawyer almost scuppered 'Barfly' because he interpreted the deal as including the rights to the 'Chinaski' persona... Luckily Hackford was happy to relinquish this claim, so Barfly could be made.

I guess it could become confusing.
 
Oh don't get me wrong, I understand what happened, what really happened and what is written in "Hollywood".
But yes, Bukowski should have had as you say a 'fictional-fictional-alter-alter-ego' - LOL - Because Chinaski talking about his fictional character Chinaski is ...wrong and strange and ultimately confusing... my heads hurts.

To put it more simply, it seems Bukowski wrote chapter 26 as himself and not as Chinaski. It (to me) seems like an error.
 
I've always read Hollywood as being told by Bukowski, no matter who appears to be telling the story. Whether the seeming contradiction was on purpose, not noticed, or noticed and waved away, it's not something I've really thought about.

But it is interesting that you mention it, as I've never looked at it that way. But I doubt he's trying to be confusing like Nabokov or even unintentionally creating confusion; he's just writing and telling the story. Just read it and allow yourself to become part of it. That's all I've ever needed to do with Buk.
 
Just read it and allow yourself to become part of it.
Yes, I was, I do. But this section brought me crashing back to reality. I found it jarring. I can see how it's been missed, I read his books as Bukowski writing. But this stood out like a massive neon sign. He made such a point of it that, to me, it was hard not to be tripped over by it.

He's not infallible, I get it.
 
Odd that you would use my post to affirm your conclusion that Bukowski was fallible. Fallibility only lies in the non-realization of the reader's concept of how the story should be told.

Hollywood is not, to me, written from the perspective of Chinaski. It's written by Bukowski about Chinaski, reflecting on Bukowski being Chinaski as Chinaski would consider being Bukowski. But I'm really becoming too obvious here.
 
I had written a lot more and decided against it. "He's not infallible, I get it." was more a comment to your 'just roll with it' attitude. And I don't think being obvious (in this reply) is an issue.

EDIT: Even with what you've said, how you see Hollywood, that really doesn't explain anything other than the fact you missed it. I understand getting lost in the story, being a part of the the story. But even as you say It's written by Bukowski about Chinaski, reflecting on Bukowski being Chinaski as Chinaski would consider being Bukowski. If Bukowski is sitting in a room, talking about being Chinaski and talking about the works of Chinaski, Chinaskis alter ego isn't going to be Chinaski is it? He has come up with pesydonyms for everything else in the book, for all the characters, alternative names for all his books, Post office=Shipping Clerk, Barfly=The Dance of Jim Beam.. yet the alter ego of his alter ego escapes him (Bukowski and Chinaski.)
 

Bukfan

"The law is wrong; I am right"
I've had a look at Hollywood. It does seem like Bukowski made a mistake because the protagonist of the story is Chinaski, not Bukowski, so it is a bit odd to hear Chinaski talk about his alter ego Chinaski in chapter 26. Funny, I never noticed that before. Too bad his editor-publisher, John Martin, did'nt catch the error. Oh well...
 
So Bukowski is writing a novel "Hollywood" in which the main character/alter ego is named "Chinaski". He has also written other novels and stories in which his alter ego is named "Chinaski." But what else could he do? He can't now within the context of Hollywood give a different name like "Helmut Dichter" to his alter ego since "Henry Chinaski" is the name he had always had. I see your point, and you raise an interesting problem in the creation of character/"self" in fiction but Bukowski is always playing with these levels of complexity about his own "identity." Can you think of another way he can "resolve" this problem?
I am thinking suddenly of the paintings/drawings of M.C. Escher. There is one in which he depicts himself painting himself reflected in the reflection of a large glass globe if I remember correctly. Bukowski is sort of doing that.
 

cirerita

Founding member
Now somebody should Photoshop Bukowski's head on top of Escher's...

escher-mc-hand-with-globe-7400026.jpg
 
Here's one of the Escher drawings--"Hands"--which depicts the artist drawing his own hand drawing his own hand....

hands.jpg
Yeah, that's the one I was thinking of! I thought there was one of him drawing himself reflected too but I have to go find my Escher book. NINETEEN SIXTIES! REMEMBER THOSE YEARS?
 
So Bukowski is writing a novel "Hollywood" in which the main character/alter ego is named "Chinaski". He has also written other novels and stories in which his alter ego is named "Chinaski." But what else could he do? He can't now within the context of Hollywood give a different name like "Helmut Dichter" to his alter ego since "Henry Chinaski" is the name he had always had. I see your point, and you raise an interesting problem in the creation of character/"self" in fiction but Bukowski is always playing with these levels of complexity about his own "identity." Can you think of another way he can "resolve" this problem?
I am thinking suddenly of the paintings/drawings of M.C. Escher. There is one in which he depicts himself painting himself reflected in the reflection of a large glass globe if I remember correctly. Bukowski is sort of doing that.

mm...no, not really.

He created alternatives names for his books, for the title of his film, for the people he interacted with and also the places he went to (restaurants, studios). In Hollywood, Henry Chinaski wrote a book called Shipping Clerk. In reality Bukowski wrote a book called Post Office where the protagonists name was Henry Chinaski. In Hollywood, when Henry Chinaski wrote Shipping Clerk, the protagonist wouldn't be named Henry Chinaski would it, that would make an autobiography, Can you own the dramatic rights to an actual person?

EDIT: with your drawing example, you could make the characters any one you wanted. You could say Buk did the drawing and in the drawing we could assume Chinaski is holding the globe and the reflection is Chinaski. or if you wanted to, you could be creative and say Buk is holding the globe and Chinaski is the reflection. In reality, the only person in that reflection would be that of the person holding the globe.
 
Buk is always drawing himself into his writing, one way or the other, and playing with his readers' heads in the process. If he had called himself "Helmut Dichter", author of Shipping Clerk, it wouldn't make sense since his whole point is that Taylor Hackford [Hector Blackford] seems to "own the rights" to his fictional character Henry Chinaski. If I understand you properly, you think Bukowski erred in naming him Chinaski? If so, what other alternatives could there be?
 
What ever Bukowski wanted. You are over complicating something very simple. I thought Bukfan cut through the confusion and put it quite simply. I guess not.

Henry Chinaski is the author of Shipping Clerk. So to you, it is logical for the protagonist of Shipping Clerk to be Henry Chinaski. Ok, well I can't argue with you about that can I if you can't see my point; this is just going to go in circles.
 
Bukfan did agree with you, but as for cutting through the confusion, all he did was offer his opinion (for right or wrong, we cannot ever be sure). Maybe John Martin did catch it, and Buk explained to him what his thinking was. Or maybe he explained that it doesn't matter. Maybe it never came up.

Your position relies upon the "rules" of how alter-egos are utilized in literature. One could argue that that is a very academic position, and we all know what Buk felt toward that.

Or you could be correct. My point is that you can't use logic to either support or refute your position, let alone prove or disprove it. Ipso facto, it really doesn't matter.
 

hank solo

Just practicin' steps and keepin' outta the fights
Moderator
Founding member
Muse1176, you view this as an error, and perhaps you're right, but I think its was just the most straight forward way he could find to approach the situation. When he writes about Chinaski, it's usually in the first person, as Chinaski. Here we have a story where Chinaski is writing a screenplay inspired by his life. If Bukowski started to write this book thinking Chinaski is writing a screenplay about a guy called Chelaski or some such it might have become muddled, especially for the author.

Your point about the screenplay being an autobiography (if Chinaski writes about Chinaski) is an interesting one too. I haven't read Hollywood for a few years, and can't remember right now if he goes into this at all, but in the real world, when Barfly was being made, if Hackford's lawyer really tried to stop production, what was stopping Bukowski from just substituting a new name for is alter-ego there? Maybe his attachment to the Chinaski character is also a consideration when he's writing this section of the novel?
 

Gerard K H Love

Appreciate your friends
When dealing with anyone from the bottom of the globe remember their water spins the other way so they can see things differently than we can.

I think she's right but I haven't even read Hollywood yet.

Oh, and the M.C. Escher references are perfect to show your points of view. Bravo!

only one beer on an empty stomach
 
Hank Solo I see what you are saying. About a 3rd name being confusing, especially if it was the one and only time Chinaski referred to a protagonist.
Just seems strange to me that if he went to the trouble of renaming his works, why not his characters too? I have wondered why it wouldn't have been easier to just rename the lead in Barfly, perhaps if Hackford hadn't relented so easily he may have.

P.S For this example, an apt artists depiction of Bukowski > Chinaski > Chinaski would have to have the face of the person looking into the globe as well as the reflection. And if you want to get technical and accurate, the reflective guy should have another globe with his reflection in that. Buk holding the globe, his alter ego (Chinaski) in the reflection, the alter ego of his alter ego ("Shipping Clerk" protagonist) in the reflection of the other globe.
The hands drawing each isn't appropriate either, as Chinaski doesn't talk about Bukowski. Unless Buk did a whole Breakfast of Champions thing I haven't read yet and wrote himself into the story.
 

Bukfan

"The law is wrong; I am right"
I think its was just the most straight forward way he could find to approach the situation.

You might very well be right, hank solo. Maybe it wasn't an error. Maybe it was the only way to go about it (Chinaski talking about his alter ego, Chinaski) without having to create a new name for his alter ego. He could of course have created a new name but in order to keep the continuity from his other Chinaski novels he chose to stick with Chinaski as his alter ego. Still, it is a bit confusing when you read chapter 26.
 
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I went back and reread chapter 26 (had a day off and actually just went ahead and reread the whole thing), and no matter how I tweaked and turned it, it does seem a narrative flaw. And here I wrote recently that from a technical standpoint.....Oh, well. In spite of this flaw, some of the best prose Buk ever wrote is here. There are some comedic scenes written in Hollywood that, I feel, trump anything else written in his previous novels. It's possible many don't favor this book as much because Chinaski doesn't seem very Chinaski-like (Factotum, now that's fuckin' Chinaski). In this, I agree with Purple Stickpin. But Buk had to play this character out in a Horatio Alger like manner. Like solo said, he played it out the best manageable way.
 

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