Hollywood – Charles Bukowski

It took me a while to get round to reading Hollywood by Bukowski.  I was afraid I wouldn’t like it, I enjoyed ‘Last Night Of The Earth’ poems much less than the other poetry books – more soft, unexciting, lacking rawness or humour.  All the poems seemed to be about betting on horses or agreeing with fans that his writing has lost it’s spark since he settled into a quiet life as a husband focusing on cats and gardening.  I thought perhaps maybe this was due to the success, less anger and resentment to be fuelled by, and seeing as Hollywood is written about Barfly being made, the screenplay he wrote, starring Micky Rouke (perhaps, oddly, I actually had no idea this film existed or anything about it until I started reading this book) – I assumed I’d be in for a bit more disappointment.  WRONG!  The first couple of pages already had me laughing with creative, imaginative, witty and dry observations I felt I could identify with.  It definatly isn’t all gardenening and cats.

Such were the rewards of the rewards of the Chosen in the land of the free

“we have just landed upon the outpost of death.  My soul is puking”

We were at the door.  I knocked.
It opened to this tall slim delicate type, you smelled artistry all over him.  You could see he had been born to Create, to Create grand things, totally unhindered, never bothered by such petty things as toothache, self-doubt, lousy luck.  He was one of those who looked like a genius.  I looked like a dishwasher so these types always pissed me just a bit.

“please, let’s leave, my mind is sliding away”

I felt something like a cold wind at the back of my neck.  Then I realized it was only a rush of fear.

I saw a deep pain in his eyes that I had never seen before.  For a man who wanted to be happy he looked like a man who had lost two pawns in the early rounds of a chess match without gaining an advantage.

He went crazy when watching the film being edited and saw a scene where Micky Rourke buys a woman a drink, she finishes, he then pushses his half empty bottle away and say’s that’s it, he’s broke.  Bukowski says any big drinker would never do that, he’d finish every last drop.  This is a major issue for him, already feeling the embarassment of alcoholics laughing in his face at this absurd, painfully unrealistic action and he demands a different take must be used for authenticity.  But towards the end of the book, he and Linda are at a party for the film, with a free bar, not liking the type of people at the party he demands they leave and just go home, regardless of the free booze.  Quite a turnaround there, showing how he’s changed.
Also he demanded there be a premier for the film and he had a white stretch limo with ‘a chauffeur, a stock of the best wine, color tv, car phone, cigars…’ ‘for laughs.  For bullshit’ but isn’t that why anybody would want it?  He is a changed man.  Or just showing a side we never thought he had.  Isn’t his whole ‘thing’ that he doesn’t care for ‘the American Dream’/a dull life of common expectations and materialism as a substitue for creativity and moving experiences.

A glossary of the characters pseudonyms and real names (and a couple of titles), which is frankly, hilarious:
Francois Racine (Steve Baes)
Wenner Zergog (Werner Herzog)
Lido Mamin (Idi Amin)
Tab Jones (Tom Jones)
Mack Derouac (Jack Kerouac)
Jon-Luc Modard (Jean-Luc Godard)
Francis Ford Lopalla (Francis Ford Coppola)
Karl Vossner (Carl Weissner)
Mack Austin (Dennis Hopper)
Tom Pell (Sean Penn)
Ramona (Madonna)
The Dance of Jim Beam (Barfly)
Jack Bledsoe (Mickey Rourke)
Lenny Fidelo (Frank Stallone)
Francine Bowers (Faye Dunaway)
Firepower Productions (Cannon Films)
Harry Friedman (Yoram Globus/Menahem Golan)
Nate Fischman (Yoram Globus/Menahem Golan)
Lippy Leo Durocher (Lefty Gomez)
Tim Ruddy (Tom Luddy)
Victor Norman (Norman Mailer)
Jim Serry (Timothy Leary)
Shipping Clerk (Post Office)
Hector Blackford (Taylor Hackford)
Hyans (Robby Müller)
Rick Talbot (Roger Ebert)
Kirby Hudson (Gene Siskel)
Sesteenov (Errol Morris)
Manz Loeb (David Lynch)
The Rat Man (The Elephant Man)
Pencilhead (Eraserhead)
Rosalind Bonelli (Isabella Rossellini)
Corbell Veeker (Helmut Newton)
Kay Bronstein (Eva Gardos)
Notes of a Neanderthal Man (Notes of a Dirty Old Man)

Also on the back of the book is a quote ‘Full of entertaining vignettes of celebrities’ The Times That has GOT to be a joke, right?  Or else who on earth chose / approved that!  I like to think it’s been chosen for a laugh to lure unsuspecting readers into the book.

Chapter 13 was possibly my favourite.

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2 Responses to Hollywood – Charles Bukowski

  1. Naomi says:

    I really appreciated this blog as I am in the middle of reading this fabulous book! This is actually the first of Bukowski’s writings that I’ve read. I know, I’m so behind! Thank you for including the list of pseudonyms, some are obvious but I was curious about the others. And I agree: hilarious! I love that he claims it is a work of fiction in the front of the book as well! Thanks for such and informative and entertaining blog!

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