I wrote about a Bukowski novel before, Post Office, which sometimes I kind of wish I kept my copy of but ultimately it wouldn’t make a difference since I’m once again on the road. Much like Bukowski himself, I’m a ragman who has a penchant for writing and being frequently called insane. When I saw another Bukowski novel at the local goodwill, I snatched that shit up.
I will be the first to admit, I can be kind of a dumb bastard sometimes. When I began reading Notes of a Dirty Old Man, like most other books I read, I went in corpse cold: no preparation just going in and seeing what happens. This has lead to some confusion over the years because I’ll begin reading a book and think “HOLY SHIT! What the fuck am I reading? Is this a work of fiction?” or “Uhh…is this supposed to be a comedy because this guy’s monologue about suicide is kinda funny” or similar oddities. I know this is easily fixed, I do frequent wikipedia, but I think that would ruin some of the experiences I have with books for me. Either way this happened again with Notes of a Dirty Old Man.
When I began reading Notes I thought maybe it was an experimental novel given its broken and non-sequenced pieces, the lack of proper capitalization and a general lack of obvious structure. I was trying to find connections between Bukowski recounting beating the crap out of his friend “Elf”, a baseball playing angel getting his wings butchered off, and philosophical waxings at the race track before one day recently (I started Notes months ago, but took a break to read a book my now-ex-girlfriend highly recommended then the hiatus continued when my best friend gave me a few books for xmas and then after finishing one of the books I got for xmas [“Briefing for a Descent into Hell” by Dorris Lessing, which is phenomenal for the record, review coming someday] I really felt a need to get back to Notes) I looked up the wiki article on Bukowski himself and discovered that the novel I’m reading is a collection of pieces Bukowski wrote as a column for an independent newspaper called OPEN CITY. Sudden a couple of things made more sense however even after completing this novel and doing some research I still think there’s plenty that’s unknowable about this book.
I’m not including a spoilers tag in this book review because I don’t know if there’s anything to spoil about this book but here’s what I feel one should know going into the book, if you’re that kind of person:
- Bukowski is a bastard. Accept it or don’t but you have been warned.
- Bukowski is a drunk, a drifter, and has no apparent moral compass.
- Bukowski is very sexually deviant in his writings.
- If you’re the sensitive type who requires “trigger warnings” FUCKING RUN AWAY. I’m serious you will not be able to handle his works particularly this book.
- Don’t feel bad for laughing at necrophilia, suicide, or murder.
Given these things, you may start thinking to yourself “Chessis Christ, what kind of person are you if you can identify with Bukowski?” and you’d be accurate in thinking this. I have no answers.
Here’s some quotes that I liked from this book:
“Eliot Mintz — he’s like a kid’s accordian: no matter how you squeeze him you get the same sound” (24)
“every man is afraid of being a queer. I get a little tired of it. maybe we shouldall become queeers and relax.” (33)
“(by the way…I realize I switch from present to past tense, and if you don’t like it…ram a nipple up your scrotum. — printer: leave this in.)” (37)
“…I’ve got an old saying (I make up old sayings as I walk around in rags) that knowledge without follow-through is worse than no knowledge at all. because if you’re guessing and it doesn’t work you can just say, shit, the gods are against me. but if you know and don’t do, you’ve got attics and dark halls in your mind to walk up and down in and wonder about. this ain’t healthy, leads to unpleasant evenings, too much to drink and the shredding machine.” (49)
“…the world makes madmen (and women) of us all, and eventhe saints are demented, nothing is saved. so shit. well. according to my figures I’ve only had 2500 pieces of ass but I’ve watched 12,500 horse races, and if I have any advice to anybody it’s this: take up watercolor painting.” (50)
“‘Love’ is something you need penicillin for.” (59)
“The next guy that calls money ‘bread’ should be paid off in whole wheat.” (59)
“there is only one place to write and that is ALONE at a typewriter.” (77)
“God got out of the tree, took the snake and Eden’s tight pussy away and now you’ve got Karl Marx throwing golden apples down from the same tree, mostly in blackface.” (83)
“this is the way a Loner ends up: dead alone. dying alone. a Loner should get ready early.” (90)
“there are times when insanity becomes so real that it isn’t insanity anymore.” (125)
“some cunt had decided to stay with me — that was love, that was bravery. shit, who could really stand me? anyone who could stand me had a lot of forgiveness of soul. I just had to REWARD this sweet, little dear deer for having the guts and insight and courage to stay with me.
what better reward than to fuck her in the ass?” (181)
“When Love becomes a command, Hatred can become a pleasure.” (206)
“I’d rather hear about a live American bum than a dead Greek God.” (207)
“love arrives and departs without notice.
is it possible to love a human being?
of course, especially if you don’t know them too well.” (221-2)
“…sometimes you just have to leave those crazy broads and get yourself back together. There’s a certain price on pussy that no man will pay; meanwhile, there’s always another fool who will pick up the one you’ve dropped, so there’s really no sense of guilt or desertion.” (254)
The next comic in “The Adventures of Fin and Louie” coming soon.