Most morose novel (1 Viewer)

I'm depressed and losing my father to cancer. I found the biting cynicism of The Pleasures of the Damned a great comfort the last time I was feeling like this.... I'm wondering which Bukowski novel is most suitable for morose self indulgence?

From what I gather Pulp is relentlessly pessimistic.... that's the kind of thing I looking for. But I've heard mixed reviews.

Any advice would be much appreciated.
 

mjp

Founding member
First of all, I'm sorry that your father is dying. It happens to all of us (the father, the mother and then ourselves), but it's still 32 flavors of horrible any way you slice it.

As for a relentlessly pessimistic Bukowski novel, I don't know that there is such a thing. I honestly don't think he was pessimistic. I think he was disappointed in humanity much of the time, but I don't get pessimism.

But for your situation, Ham on Rye seems to be the obvious choice. Since you are upset about your father I'll assume he was a good guy. Bukowski's was not. Ham on Rye is about his childhood, lived with people (his parents) who he felt didn't care about him. Go read that one.

Some of it is so awful you'll think it's fiction, but all indications are that most of it is true. As "true" as any Bukowski work can be anyway.
 
if your relation with your dad is not as messed up as Bukowski's, maybe 'Ham On Rye' isn't the one you're looking for.

If you love the man you're losing now, AND are (as it sounds) deliberately following self-destructing patters, I'd recommend everything related to the death of JANE COONEY BAKER, Bukowski's first and true love, who died in 1962. A death that never left him.

he often used the same words again all over to describe the last moment he saw her. e.g.:

- 'Bukowski-Tapes' Vol. II, 1:08:10 – 1:08:31:
"... and I kept sitting there, and I wiped her face with a rag. She came out of the coma, she recognized me. She opened her eyes and she said: 'I knew it would be you.' Then she closed her eyes and she never came out of it again."

- 'my first affair with that older woman' in 'You Get So Alone At Times That It Just Makes Sense', 78f:
"our little soap opera ended / with her in a coma / in the hospital, / and I sat at her bed / for hours / talking to her, / and then she opened her eyes / and saw me: / 'I knew it would be you,' / she said. / then she closed her / eyes."

- 'Post Office', 65 (Book III, chapt. 9):
"Her eyes opened. They were beautiful again. Bright calm blue. 'I knew it would be you.' she said. Then she closed her eyes."

Since you're asking for a novel: from that standpoint, chapt. 9 + 10 in book III of 'Post Office' may be your choice.

You'll find his sad memories about her death spread all over his work, though. Mostly in poems.
Many of them in 'The Days Run Away ...'

- 'for Jane: with all the love I had, which was not enough:-' in: 'The Days Run Away...', 37:
[...]
and I call God a liar,
I say anything that moved
like that
or knew
my name
could never die
in the common verity of dying.

[...]

And NOT to forget his many moving letters:

- Letter to John William Corrington 5-27-1962 in: 'Living On Luck', 27:
"It is our own deaths that will be easiest to take; it is the other deaths, the coming of them that we cannot bear."
 
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