the absolute LAST buk book

Pulp is Buk's only novel that i have yet to read. seems like most people around the site don't like it too much so i haven't really been motivated to check it out.
 
I haven't tried PULP mainly because I don't like crime genre fiction. If Buk had written a science fiction or a western then I think I would have ducked those too. It's more a reflection of my taste than any assessment of the novel, which as I've said, I haven't read.
 
it's different, but great!

All the rain and death you could ask for is in 'Pulp'. Plus arguments with barkeeps.
 

Rekrab

Usually wrong.
PULP really isn't a crime novel -- the noir detective schtick is just window dressing Buk uses to hang the story on. You quickly realize he isn't bothering to convince you that he knows or cares anything about the standard mystery conventions. It could just as easily be set at a circus or roller rink. Earlier in his career, Bukowski used a western theme in a few poems (and stories too? -- I forget), and again it wasn't really genre work, he was just using that genre as a leaping off point into a story that was pure Bukowski.
 

mjp

Founding member
You quickly realize he isn't bothering to convince you that he knows or cares anything about the standard mystery conventions.
Maybe that's why it stinks. Because it's half-assed at two things rather than being good at one.

I re-read Pulp a couple of months ago for the first time since 1994, and I tried to approach it with an open mind, but if anything, after 16 or 17 years of digging more deeply into his work, I disliked it even more this time.

I think if he had written it 20 years earlier it would have sat on the shelf unpublished, and rightfully so.
 

Rekrab

Usually wrong.
True, true. It's not even second rate Bukowski. You get the impression he was writing out of habit, more to prove he could still put words on paper, than because he had much to say. Probably the best thing about it is the humor, although being based on unreal situations, not the horrors of real life, it isn't as effective as the humor in his other novels.
 

mjp

Founding member
I get the impression that he started it, and maybe if it had been a decade earlier he wouldn't have finished it, but by the end of his life there he must have known that it would be his last long work, so he was reluctant to kill it himself.

At least that's what I'd like to believe. It's difficult for me to accept the possibility that he thought it was good. But maybe he did.
 
I strongly disagree.

It actually IS a nice genre-novel in the style of the Sam-Spade/Marlowe-tradition.
It also has a science-fiction-touch, which would be completely nuts and useless if not for the funny conclusion of the aliens to not colonize this planet, since it's so damn shitty.

But most of all:
even though it's not an autobiographical story, the main character is pure Bukowski/Chinaski.
Don't you see the total tristesse through the whole book? (it's not only the rain.)

And that humor all around, like when he thinks about, what he has to do next and always ends up drinking, or when he gets into arguments with barkeeps all the time ("Sorry, baby, but I seem to get into these negative dialogues with almost every bartender I meet.").

And how he handles Lady Death, knowing Hank himself would be her next victim, is just genius. ("But you always seem to be hanging around me, Lady." - "I hang around everybody, Nick, you are just more aware of me.")

I'm sorry, kids: I love that novel!
 
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Rekrab

Usually wrong.
Aliens? I don't remember aliens. Guess I need to reread it. I do remember Lady Death.

I felt like Bukowski was more or less pissing on the standard genre style novel, while winking, as if to say "you and I know this is crap baby, but hell, I'm a real writer, not a genre hack, so lets call it literature." It is not a homage to the Sam Spade/Marlow thing. He even calls it "Pulp", i.e., cheap trash.

Maybe he did think it was good. He apparently changed a lot of his ideas/values towards the end, even buying into the guru thing. Maybe his literary judgment changed as well?
 

mjp

Founding member
I just typed a long response and lost it when I spilled some water on my keyboard (it was extremely funny and insightful, real Nobel Prize shit, I'm telling you!). The gist of it was; he certainly did not buy into any guru before he died. At least not according to his letters.

People do a lot of uncharacteristic things when they know they're dying. But he was pretty much the same person he always was up to the end. We all are, despite what those we leave behind need to believe to make themselves feel better.
 

Rekrab

Usually wrong.
My mistake. I based that guru comment on something I saw in a film or read, maybe something Linda Lee said, about how he was cozying up to the Buddha towards the end, or was it Meher Baba? But maybe that was just her wishful thinking, and he really wasn't into it any more than he'd ever been? The short home movie video on his last birthday or whatever it was comes to mind. I'm going off half cocked here, as usual.
 

mjp

Founding member
Well, he did a lot of things to make her feel better and to ease her considerable psychic pain. So I wouldn't read too much into swallowing a few vitamins or sitting quietly in a chair for 30 minutes a day. He wanted her to feel good and be happy.
 
... I saw in a film or read, maybe something Linda Lee said, about how he was cozying up to the Buddha towards the end, or was it Meher Baba? But maybe that was just her wishful thinking, and he really wasn't into it any more than he'd ever been?

Haven't you ever agreed with your wife on something just so she would shut her yap? You've been married long enough that that something may be everything. Heh.
 

Rekrab

Usually wrong.
Stavrogin: Right. Haven't we all done that?

mjp: refresh my memory: why would Linda have "considerable psychic pain"? Just the wear and tear of living with him? Or was there something else causing her grief?
 

mjp

Founding member
why would Linda have "considerable psychic pain"?
I don't know the cause of her pain. But it seems that, despite how she may have looked to the outside world in comparison to someone whose madness was right on the surface for all to see, like Linda King, you can say with some confidence that Bukowski was always attracted to damaged women and a steady stream of relationship drama.

I would say that you might hear more about it after a certain Widow® shuffles off this mortal coil, but I don't know. The way things go these days they'll probably nominate her for sainthood, or whatever the Buddhists have, when she dies. Since dying seems to negate everything negative that ever happened in your life."Richard Nixon? Sure, great guy! Let's put him on a postage stamp!"
 

Rekrab

Usually wrong.
Reagan! We all love Ronnie, right? So, you're saying, there's more to the story than the official story. Interesting.

The postage stamp idea is pretty good except it invites lewd comments about licking backsides. Or would those be self-adhesive?
 

HenryChinaski

Founding member
I don't understand why people dislike Pulp so much. I've read it countless times and its one book that I will continue to enjoy every time I read it. I think most of its appeal comes from the imagination used in creating such a wonderful story, even if it is pure fiction. It represents the end of a life spent in tiny rooms and an even bigger mind. It only seems plausible. Its dream-like qualities touched on how Hank actually felt in his old age, a seasoned veteran trying to tie it all together. If it seems completely absurd, then so does life, and I think that if any of Buk's work should be adapted for the screen, it should be Pulp. It reads like a bad movie and that's what makes it amazing and I believe, completely what he was aiming at.
 

Bukfan

"The law is wrong; I am right"
I like it. I think there's some pretty funny bits here and there in Pulp.
 
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I get the impression that he started it, and maybe if it had been a decade earlier he wouldn't have finished it, but by the end of his life there he must have known that it would be his last long work, so he was reluctant to kill it himself.
Wasn't part of his choice simply that he had novelised every stage of his life already and that if he was going to write another novel it simply couldn't be biographical? He had to write about someone/something else and the easiest way to get out of routine is to adopt a genre.
 
It took me round about six hours to read Pulp and while reading it I kept thinking what a bunch of crap. But shortly after finishing the novel and leaving it at a bus station for someone to discover I realized how much I enjoyed all it's ridiculousness. It might have been a bit frustrating to read, being a fan of Bukowski and not expecting such an absurb plot, but it is pure Bukowski at the core. I can imagine a great cult movie being made based on this novel. We'll miss you Buk.
 
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