I remember liking Sherman's book. To me, the memoirs, even the cranky, bitter ones (not that Sherman's is bitter), always contain a few little nuggets you can't get from books from people like Sounse, who is a decent researcher, but didn't know Bukowski.
- Introductory remarks from Patrick Kelly, editor of Blue Horse books in which he talks of NOLA Express days.
- Bukowski/Sherman letters (also Corrington) in which it is clear Sherman wrote to Buk as a fan, gut a couple of polite responses and in (only!) the 3rd letter Buk say 'I'm not much for literary mismash' and 'I don't think correspondence is too important'.
- Friendship, fame and bestial myth wherein Sherman tries to build a case that Buk and he were really very close and gosh isn't it strange that some letters later Buk says 'somehow you have gotten the idea we are friends. We are not'. Ouch.
- One page bio of Jory Sherman
Looking at how inocuous this little book is, I guess it is the pathetic position of the author that bothers me most. Buk signed some of his letters 'your friend...' etc. This, it seems, was enough for Sherman to assume a kinship which did not exist. And then to write a few pages (book? no.) saying 'Hey, but we were friends! See, he even says so in his letters to me.'
It all seems as small and pedantic as a snakes poop-shoot.
What the hell?
The Bukowski-Martinelli-Correspondence (Beerspit Night And Cursing) may have weak points, but at least one main subject in B's letters seems to be Jory Sherman and his (somtetimes mixed) feelings toward him.
For example: "Sherman, I have once or twice started to give up on but just when I am ready he comes up with a letter, entonic, blazing from the shouls. If he could just get across some of himself into the poem without trying to be so god damned fancy like the rest of them. They all sit down and the first thing happens, big sign in mind: I AM GOING TO WRITE A POEM. A POEM." (p.58)
Or: "Sherman on phone again, wanting to come over. I am his dad, when he in trouble, come see Buk, drink beer, spill his piss before me. A formula. I told him no. I am in some trouble. He told me stuff and stuff, sharp, glib. American voice, humorous, cold energetic, undefeatable, false, money-mad, woman-mad voice ... unable to sit stille for a moment and watch the centuries come down in wonderful dust, the names, the ages of man, monkey-man and man-man all comin gown to wistful stone; no, no, he wants assurance and talk talk talk and beer beer beer, not alone, but with somebody, weak this Sherman; I have told him to take the stars and the seas out of his poems and bring in real blood, and over the phone I told him no. God damn, I am no wet-nurse for 2nd. rate poets. If Jeffers wants to drop in for abeer, I'll reconsider." (p. 244)
Maybe by "things" he means, not poetry, but the "real blood" you know? Maybe by social circle, he doesn't mean friends, but the people he "has" to do stuff with, colleagues, Felicia's friends, people from back-in-the-day, that sort of thing??? I didn't mind Sherman's little book, maybe because the grungy little thing looks so different from the glossy bios, helps maintain the romance of the underground or something...
and maybe I'm wrong, but Sherman seems slightly less annoying to me than Neeli, I know a lot of people like the Neeli bio, though, and I respect that.
Oh and the photos!
(Just to seal my reputation as a cranky prick)
There are three or four photos of Sherman in and on the little book and he makes sure to look directly into the lens, doe eyed and all sincere like. My entire adult life has been about summing people up in the first few minutes. And this guy looks like a milk-sop wanker to me.
One on the back makes him look like a Marlborough man - only NQR.
Despite what Buk says in Beerspit..., they did have a friendly relationship. Maybe it turned sour on Buk's part at some point, but that does'nt change the fact, so Sherman is'nt wrong in claiming they had a friendship. Besides, Buk was a loner. He was the type who would say he did'nt have any friends, only acquaintances. Look what happend to his friendships with John Bryan, Jon Webb etc. ...
Maybe I am going way out on an intellectual limb here, but a friendship is when two people are friends. When one or both of them stops liking the other (for whatever reason) they cease to be friends.
Sherman and Buk were friendly at one stage, Buk got sick of him and told him so.
So a friendship of some sort did exist - but to write book trying to establish so after you have been spurned seems desperate and pathetic to me. Sherman would never have written (really compiled) this little booklet if Buk wasn't someone of note.
He is simply trying to elevate his standing by association whilst offering nothing of his own.
I mean what the hell is the point of this book?
"Oh, you like Bukowski? Well, he and I used to be friends, see? Isn't that something? What do I do? Ummmm. I write little booklets on how I used to know writers you like'.
Of course, If he makes more out of it than it was and hides the fact that the friendship ended, then he is not quite telling the truth. I have'nt read the book yet but I would like to. Then I'll have a more qualified opinion...