Throwback Thursday [#9]: Pulp by Charles Bukowski

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Pulp by Charles Bukowski | Ecco | Paperback, 208 pages
Publication Date: May 31st, 2002 | Adult Fiction | Crime |
Rating: 2 out of 5 Stars


The whole time I was reading this, all I could think of was what my brain would look like if it was on meth.

This book should come with a warning: “Book may induce numbness to the brain that may lead to permanent damage.” Or something to that effect.

Clearly, my first foray into Bukowski’s world did not get off to a great start. I read somewhere that this was his farewell book as he wrote it before he died. So being one of the greatest minds in the modern literature, of course the book was full of metaphors for the life he’d lived that I, unfortunately, knew nothing about. This is what happens when I become an overzealous reader. It’s like face-planting in front of a room-full of people with my skirt pulled up, thereby showing them a piece of my caboose.

It’s humiliating.

Anyway, I bought a couple of Bukowski’s short novels a while back because I wanted a little glimpse into how his mind works. Incidentally, this one caught my eye because I’m such a whore for pulp fiction covers. Last weekend, while I was trying to figure out what to feature on my throwback review, I thought it was as good a time as any. At 208 pages, and with chapters that sometimes are only a paragraph or two long, Pulp was just perfect.

Big mistake. Huge.

Imagine the most misogynistic character you’ve ever known then multiply that by ten. Dress him up as someone who drinks himself to stupor, gambles money he doesn’t have, jerks off at a woman’s voice over the phone, then makes deals with people only to double cross them in the end.

Are you imagining this person?

If you are, then congratulations. You just found yourself face to face with Nick Belane, PI. This man is quite the character. He’d often found himself in situations of his own making. It would be funny if it wasn’t so terrible. Anyway, his assignment to find Céline spear headed a domino effect of troubles for him. From one client to another, he crosses and double crosses each one. It was exhausting. So exhausting that I wished someone would put the poor sob out of his misery by the next page.

I went and read a little more about this book’s history and I found out that this book was sort of Bukowski’s “fuck you” to the world. He made fun of pulp fiction, and fired shots at some authors. I really am clueless. It wasn’t a good idea to read the last work that the author penned as he was close to dying. There was a deliberate referral to his pending escape as one of the characters is called, Lady Death. The one looking for the author Celine, who incidentally was supposed to be dead as he was born in the 1800s.

Needless to say, I  think Bukowski’s brilliance lay waste on someone like me.