MY BOOK

Hi,

My name is JIM. I wrote a book of poetry about ten years ago and just got around to getting it published. Not sure what to do about finding an audience, but I can say thus far everybody keeps comparing it to Chuckles (my pet name for Bukowski.) So I thought I might try here.

I have mixed feelings about the comparison, same as I do about the man. In his more vulnerable moments, he was one of the best. At others, he was not much different than any other common alcoholic bully, and he reminded me more of my grandfather than anything else. in fact, these are the same kind of criticisms I often level at myself. But his attitude towards the institution of "literature" surely reflects my own. I learned more about writing holding a jackhammer still to caliche rock for an hour at a time in the hill country of Texas than I ever did listening to sycophants try to confuse each other into submission with numbing streams of meaningless jargon.

I had a lot of time to think between finishing this and publishing this. I spent a lot of time out round the sticks on a farm in Humboldt in isolation, drinking warm Olys for breakfast, washing them down with slightly more lukewarm Folgers. It was good for something, though I'm not sure what yet. I had a typewriter to keep me grounded, even when it felt like parody. And the stars at night were hot and bright, magnetic as any series of bad decisions. I leaned into it. Even when the weight felt enough to crush me. MY BOOK was the result.

Anyway, here's a sample:


[Sorry, no poetry by forum members. -ed.]


I know this is shameless, but I also know it's hard to function outside of the establishment, both as an author and a reader. It has been incredibly difficult for me to find authors who speak to me personally, and damn near impossible to find any contemporary ones. Fortunately I found this publishing company, MY PUBLISHER, and after a long time of admiring the work they put out, I somehow managed to trick them into putting out a book of mine. Anyway, if you are bored, or feel like gambling, I suggest you check it out. Above poem is probably the closest I come to Chuckles - in a way it's almost a ripoff, as a few of them are - but I am confident my own voice rises above the derivative parts. I am still actively writing. I have five books done, all to be published over the next few years, and I am always working on the next project.

Also, if this isn't so much your speed, let me suggest a book I didn't write, which appeals to a lot of the same parts of the brain as Bukowski.

Black Wings Has My Angel by Elliot Chaze

It's hard boiled pulp, but he has a way with language I've only ever seen in Fante.

Or try Creezy by Felicien Marceau.

French Novel from the sixties about an affair that goes awry.

Or The Death of Artemio Cruz by Fuentes

An underrated Latin American Classic that can be difficult at times because of the stream of consciousness perspective of the fever-delirious narrator, but it filled with moments of uncomfortably beautiful writing.

Thanks.

And here's a link to MY PUBLISHER, where you can find my book.
 
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esart

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Are we posting excerpts from our books now? As a brand new member, for my very first post about supporting small presses on this site about Buk I'd like to post my first chapter... Let's see how that goes over.
 

skiroomalum

I bought a telescope just to view Uranus!
Over 1000 posts
Well ol’ Jimmy ain’t been seen since his magnificent post, so I guess we was hit and runned agin!!!
 

PhillyDave

“The essential doesn't change.” Beckett
Over 1000 posts
Who here clicked on to his link? I didn't. Really, I didn't.
 
First--

I do apologize for posting an excerpt. I suppose if I had used common sense I could have guessed that had to be a rule for a forum such as this to function. And yes, I am a brand new member, and this is the primary reason I joined your forum. However, I have read all of Bukowski's books, his friends books, the books he read, all in my early twenty's and it was definitely one of the formative phases for me as a writer.

That said, he's just a man. People don't read his work because of the man. Like most artists, the very same set of traits that led his work to be so powerful made him a pretty unmanageable companion. I know this because I have a buddy who used to hang out with him in LA. I know this because I have been blackout drunk enough times for it to stop seeming exciting and start being embarrassing. Maybe you read Bukowski because you think it's cool to get drunk and bet on horses, and that is fine, it doesn't make you a bad person. I'm of the opinion he could have been writing about growing radishes and it would have been just as good, because what makes his writing stick has nothing to do with his lifestyle choices, it has to do with his sense of empathy. Even sitting alone in his room, even hating or resenting the world that surrounded him, you could sense (in his best work) that he was reaching out to someone on another island just like his. Maybe he was just saying it out loud to convince himself (though I don't want to psychoanalyze the process of writing itself), but his poems, mostly, seemed to convey a sense of hope to those whom we do not usually associate hope. He was a loser who always won on the page.

I came here because of the comparisons that are often drawn when people first encounter my work. I know that it comes with a certain amount of trolling. It's so much easier for people to write things off then it is for us to engage with each other, and I am not surprised or hurt. You don't get a book published without developing callouses. But if 20 people scoff but one looks it up and reads it, I have done what I was trying to do. All I have to do is get them there. Then the writing speaks for itself.

As for the small publisher thing, well, Black Sparrow. In fact, if it wasn't for John Martin, Bukowski probably would have withered away in some shithole LA flophouse and none of us would be able to talk about his career. MY PUBLISHER was founded SOMEWHERE in SOME DECADE by SOME PEOPLE, by MY PUBLISHER, in fact, and they have a whole section in SOME BOOK, just like Chuckles.

Oh, and my pet name is not derogatory. I loved Bukowski's writing when I was younger because I took myself too seriously and I liked to wallow. I'm able to come back to it to this day because it makes me laugh. Not "haha" slapstick funny, but the way a Monk can laugh sometimes at suffering. I don't have the same distaste for the rest of humanity that Bukowski always had. I love people. I don't always want to spend a lot of time with them, but I do want to speak to them, indirectly, to help them perhaps. For them to help me. I hope all of you are having a good holiday season, and I hope those of you who are writers yourself, of whom I'm sure there are many, continue to do what you do and to do it with a critical eye.

There is no money left in this writing business, but I have learned there is a community. There is more than just drinking with ghosts, of which I have done my fair share. It might not mean much to be published by a small press with limited reach, but most people have to get their MFA to get there, so I try to at least pat myself on the back for that part. And I've worked plenty of shitty construction jobs all across the country with people who are more than happy to read my book, hitchhiked with them, shit, I'm a bartender at present, so I get to peddle it every night. This wasn't intended to spam you. I've just always had a hell of a time myself finding things to read that don't put me to sleep. So for the curious, I'm out there. More than that there is MY PUBLISHER out there that has managed to PUBLISH BOOKS. Sometimes just continuing to exist is a feat worth celebrating. But then, you guys all read Bukowski, so I'm sure you understand.

Be good.

James

p.s. Also apologize for the tardy response. Between working full time to support myself, and writing full time to make this life feel livable, I don't always have the time or energy for a social life, especially the kind of meta-social life that exists on the internet.
 
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skiroomalum

I bought a telescope just to view Uranus!
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Ahh....you’re one a them “snowflakes” I keep hearing about....thanks for the “real”lowdown on Bukowski. You’re what’s this forums been missing.
 

mjp

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It's so much easier for people to write things off then it is for us to engage with each other, and I am not surprised or hurt.
The fact that you can't post whatever you want to post here doesn't mean you've been "written off."

Believe it or not, it has nothing to do with you personally, as difficult as that may be to understand or accept. It's a rule that was established long before we met you - perhaps even before you were born - and it was put in place to keep the forum from being overrun with sensitive poet types whose feelings are too easily hurt.

Not talking about you, of course, but those other sensitive poet types. You know the ones.

I have to tell you, James, that you are going about everything here in the wrong way. I know you don't care what I think or what I mean by that, so I won't waste either of our time trying to explain. You wouldn't understand, and you've already told us how terribly busy you are making a living - something none of us could possibly know anything about - and how much more important your time is than ours.

Good luck with everything, though. I wish you all the success that you feel so entitled to.
 

mjp

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For some reason, it doesn't happen as often as it used to.

But when it does, it's always comfortingly familiar.
 

Purple Stickpin

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Good to see that Jordan was finally able to push the rock away and stop by for a quick beer. Or maybe I've just not seen his posts. Either way, we're still here manning the humping guns or something.
 
The fact that you can't post whatever you want to post here doesn't mean you've been "written off."
Thank you. I appreciate this. You are right, I did, in fact, commit a gaffe. And I'm not offended that you removed the excerpt, nor was I at the time, nor am I confused as to why such a rule would be essential to running a site like this. I also understand that it was probably pretty insensitive on my part not to be more familiar to the rules of this forum, starting out. None of that hurt my feelings, nor does any of this, really, hurt my feelings. And yes, probably 10 years ago, back when I was still reading Bukowski for the first time and still deconstructing what I had to learn from his writing, I was aware of this site and had browsed it times to see what interesting things people might have to say to broaden my horizons. It was helpful. So thank you for that. I'm sorry at that point I didn't have anything to add to the conversation, because, to be honest, this is the first thing I've really had to add to the conversation. I always wanted to be a writer, not a person who talked about writing. If I wanted to be a person who talked about writing, I'd be a teacher and get paid for it. (Which, ironically, would make publishing easier.)

I'm not trying to convince a bunch of heroin addicts what heroin is really like, or to convert them to try meth. I get that once you have really settled into a drug, it almost becomes like church, and that there are dogmas to follow, ritual, a whole belief system built around it, etc. But not everyone who wanders onto this site is so set in their ways. Go ahead, don't read my book. It won't change anything for me. But I'm not really talking to you either. I'm talking to people who are still experimenting with drugs. They aren't sure 100% what it is they like. They know they like to get high. They still enjoy getting high for exactly what it is, just getting high. It's not that I'm so busy working, not any more than anyone else, I suppose. But on top of that, I am busy navigating the business of putting a book into the world without soliciting the blessings of Academia first. And writing the next one. And then the one after that. That takes more time than I have, often. So if one person gets curious because of all this, that's success. It's not that I feel entitled to it, it's that I know work ethic always supersedes talent, because talent is just another one of those words that doesn't mean anything on its own.

I really do wish you all the best. I would be more than willing to listen to what it is I don't understand, as I have found that there is always something to learn from any person in any situation, but I'm also not trying to burden you with initiating me into your club - Though it is true that I read all of Bukowski's books. I read all of Celine's and Fante's and Hamsun's. I read Harold Norse's poetry and his autobiography to boot. And I tracked down Doug Blazek and Al Purdy and any other name Chuck mentioned when I was a decade younger, thirsty and still searching for what it was that made good writing. Now I just read for fun and try to focus on getting words to the page. I have to imagine I will offend everyone again, and that's probably because I can be kind of a motherfucker, no argument out of me there (I've both won and lost my share of fistfights over it), but I have to believe you will at least be able to understand where I'm coming from. Sensitive Poets don't often have the wherewithal to get their books to press on their own, but let's not be delusional either, all poets are sensitive, and the people who read them tend to be sensitive too. I mean, how many times did Bukowski try to commit suicide?

And mostly, there is a thing called a search engine, and if this is people's introduction to my writing, I can live with that. Maybe you will all understand me better now. To talk about writing in relation to my writing serves my purpose. I would have been happy to just let the original post stand as it was, corrected, without an excerpt. That was all I wanted, starting out. But if people are trying to clown, at least be funny. Or incisive. Or mean. Or anything interesting. Or at least be honest with yourselves if you don't got that.

To all young writers. All sensitive poets. Just keep it at. It's only a matter of time, like erosion. Eventually life will just whittle you down to the good stuff.

And to everyone else. The Days Run Away Like Wild Horses Over the Hill. That's my favorite. That's what all this is really about, right? To this day I can pick it up to any page and it never disappoints me. That's as rare as silence.

All the Love.

James
 

mjp

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I would be more than willing to listen to what it is I don't understand.
Maybe you can start by listening to your own arrogance and condescension. It's loaded into everything you've written here. That deep well of unwarranted superiority that compels you to use the "Chuckles" nickname.

mostly, there is a thing called a search engine
Not anymore.
 

skiroomalum

I bought a telescope just to view Uranus!
Over 1000 posts
Speaking only for myself, I’ve yet to read a “blockhead” post worth reading.
Yours was no exception. This certainly isn’t a church, but it is a place where people give a shit about many things. Your writing is completely devoid of any passion or compelling ideas.
 
I agree. Under the right light what I have can be seen as arrogance. It took me 8 years after completing my first poetry collection to get to the point where I thought I was ready. At that point, SOME GUY had already been bothering me about publishing a book for 2 years. But, as you pointed out, poets are sensitive, and success is a slog.

Arrogance, in another light, can be seen as wherewithal. No one has ever gotten to the top of a mountain standing next to it and dreaming about what the air tastes like at the summit. Most people who do important things start out looking a little delusional to their peers. It’s only hindsight that justifies the fuss they’ve make. And you cannot make great art if you are worried that you might offend someone. I’m not sitting here telling you about the mountain I want to climb. I’m telling you I already did it, one foot in front of the other, and I wrote a book about it. And then I got that book published. That might seem arrogant, or it might seem like a statement of a fact. But that has more to do with your frame of mind than mine.

The first step in good writing is a lot of bad writing. That’s where I was forced to burn through all my humility early on. I had a teacher who estimated it took about a million bad words. It took me a few more, but my only real talent has always been a strong work ethic. The hardest part isn’t figuring out how to get published. All you have to do for that is get an MFA and consign yourself to a life of teaching. The difficult part is figuring out how to write something that you will still feel comfortable having your name attached to in twenty years. To get there, you really have to transcend the moment, you have to crack the ego and half and see what’s going on behind it, in the formless universe of truth where nothing is topical and everything has been said at least once. I’m confident, because I have watched the look on people’s faces when they start reading a page out of my book in front of me. You can fake nice, but most people can’t fake surprise. Time and time again, that’s what gives me faith: That they are so obviously surprised by how good it is. And I will offer the same to you mjp and skiroomalum, just drop me an address and I will send you a copy, free, I’ll even pay shipping. Because you can think I’m the most condescending blockheaded sensitive idiot you’ve ever encountered in all your years moderating, but good writing is still good writing. And before you fly into some paroxysm about how you would never ever read my book or even use it for toilet paper, it’s all good baby. It just saves me 5$ on shipping and a trip to the post office, which, like your boy Chuck so eloquently pointed out, is a pretty miserable place. It’s just that I’ve gone through some old posts and watched the way you bully people on your forum every time someone makes the mistake of saying something you deem improper, and I call the bluff. I am that motherfucker. My book is good. First ten addresses can test drive it for free, and if you’re still mad you can go trash it on goodreads to console yourself.

I’m still here, because I believe deep down you are probably all fine people. I’m not much for cults, but I do love talking about writing, in a more general sense, and I love to encourage young writers to keep at it. Good art makes the world a more tolerable place. Unfortunately, good art is so labor intensive that very few people stick with it long enough to see any results. If you think you can be the next Bukowski, you can. But you won’t get there by talking about it. There are no shortcuts. You just have to trudge through a million bad words. Because you will spend most of that time imitating all of those who came before, and once you get thatout of your system you will be left with only the sound of your own voice. That’s what made Bukowski so good that even his shitty poems are at least readable. He had his own voice. I wish it was more profound, but you combine that with a pinch of experience (so that you actually have something to say) and that’s about all there is to it. If you want to be a writer, just keep writing and the rest of it will figure itself out. You want to be published, go get the MFA, quick, while your still young enough to tolerate being used as an indentured servant for a billion-dollar industry that doesn’t build anything but smugness. It’s so much easier. If you think you are already there, SOME PUBLISHER reads manuscripts once a year. In August. They have put out a hundred plus books since they 80s. Are they famous? Naw. But they are resilient.

There’s also SOME PUBLISHER up in SOME PLACE who reads in January and July. This name might not mean much to you either, but they have also been putting out books since the 80s. And those are just the two I can think of offhand that publish books which I personally enjoy. I’m picky, and I will take authenticity above all else. Life is too short to be indirect or cryptic where you might just be honest instead.

I can guarantee if you are good, they will give it serious consideration. And if you’re not there yet, who cares? The worst someone can do is say no, but that’s the fun part. Fuck them. Just grit your teeth, dig in, and stay with it. If it’s good, it will get published eventually. I mean, just think about how much awful stuff gets published any given day. James Frey is so busy he had to hire assistants to help him churn out shit. And then, if it’s good and it’s published, people will read it. Maybe not as many people as you want, but do you want to be a writer or do you want to be famous? If you want to be famous, get good at the internet. If you want to be a writer, write. It’s that easy. Because if you don’t figure out how to enjoy the process, it will all show up in the finished product.

And as for taking the title and my name out of the post, up until that moment this thread was the first thing that came up when you searched the title of my book. Part of me thought it was kind of funny for this to be the introduction people got to my work, because I always like to do things in the stupidest manner possible, but from a professional standpoint you really did do me a favor. I wasn’t asking for a mulligan, but I suppose I’ll take it.

If you like you can delete the links, this is your forum to moderate, but, once again, you aren’t hurting me in doing so. I have carte-blanche to publish my work, I don’t have to submit, at least for now. You say my writing has no passion, yet it keeps eliciting a passionate response. You could just delete this thread, but then you would give me the satisfaction of knowing that what I’m saying is so inflaming you had to censor it. And nothing you say will un-publish my book. But you are welcome to keep trying, if it’s entertaining you. I’ll keep answering for as long as I can think of interesting ways to contribute.

As a bonus, here's a letter to the guy who always loves to make the comparison between my writing and Chuck's. And Chuck is just a nickname for Charles same way Hank is for Henry or Buk is for Bukowski. I know he preferred Buk with his friends, but I think of us more as coworkers, and I have to imagine he was Chuck at the post office.

1972.jpg
 

mjp

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It's like when that guy you kind of know through a friend of a friend is really drunk and you're trying to get him into a car to get him home but he keeps breaking away from you and running back into the party and as soon as he opens the door you can hear everyone inside groan.
 

d gray

tried to do his best but could not
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Him and chuckie are "co-workers!" :DD:DD:DD
 
You can’t really reason with a belief system. Ask Galileo. Ask Joan of Arc. Or why does Scientology devote so much of its resources to rounding up all their strays. I’ll give you a hint, it doesn’t have as much to do with public perception as it does with internal discipline… And when a belief system revolves around a singular personality, and that personality is mortal, well, that’s where you cross that fuzzy line into cult. Chuckles is dead. Has been dead for a while, last I checked. I haven’t spent the requisite time learning the trivia of his life, I’ll give you-all that, everything I know about him can be found in his books, which are full of inconsistencies and fictions anyway, and a lot has happened in the preceding ten years since I blazed through them, so my memory gets foggy.

The biggest thing that has happened to me, since then, is that I went and found out for myself. Turns out, like most gospels, that the wisdom contained in his books says just as much about him and his own prejudices and preferences as it does about his readers. In hindsight, I have found that I am unable to commit to the genius of all of it, at least not wholesale. His prose, for example: Fante wrote prettier, Jim Thompson wrote sharper, and Hemmingway wrote cleaner. That doesn’t make it bad, I just don’t need to revisit it over and over after reading it once. But the poetry—and not always—but enough that I occasionally pull one of the books out to browse, well, he got as close as anyone ever has. I understand that having a nuanced opinion always makes one unpopular in a cult. However, I’m not in your cult. I just stopped by to visit. Or, as you pointed out, to promote my own work. Not because I am a bad guy, but because art is a difficult business only fit for masochists.

Btw, I call him Chuckles because he is funny, and that’s his saving grace, at least for me. Not just funny haha, but funny in a deeper, almost-spiritual way. You can’t expect people to eat shit day in and day out unless you put a little sugar on it. In fact, Koans are often just as similar to jokes as riddles. Maybe that’s why all those Tibetan Monks, whose daily existence revolves around the contemplation of suffering, are always smiling in portraits. Turns out they are also pretty good at basketball. Does it make the work they do any less serious to point out that they find small ways to make life enjoyable? I don’t think so. But maybe you all disagree.

With that said, I’m glad to see a couple of you found your sense of humor, or, at the least, I laughed at a couple comments, so that’s good. As for the rest of it, I hope you understand that there is nothing profound about insular inside jokes, pointless nods at past events that didn’t mean much the first time around, and that sitting around telling yarns at the bar might be great for scratching the incessant itch of nostalgia, but it doesn’t do much to move the conversation forward. I wanted to believe that this would be the kind of place where people went who appreciated good writing, or at least one specific good writer, but it seems more like a lunch room where librarians can bitch and insult each other over minutiae that no one else could possibly care about, and any time in browsing some old threads I was able to see where some starry-eyed initiate tried to make or suggest some kind of interesting or novel thread, even at the risk of being wrong, the conservative old-guard jumped right on their ass to smugly put them in their proper place.

Good luck with that. I’m sure Chuckles would have loved your company.

Your pal,

Jiggles
 

mjp

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Persistence, the hallmark of any troll worth its salt.
 

hoochmonkey9

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I had a Salty Troll last summer in the Hamptons. To. Die. For.
 
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