CRIME-NOIR BUKOWSKI STYLE IN A STUNNING NEW PACKAGE
During his lifetime Bukowski published more than forty-five books of poetry and prose including the novels Post Office (1971) and Factotum (1975). He is one of America's most distinctive writers and a voice for both the outsider and low life Americana.
Always the iconoclast striving for a kind of literary raunch, the internationally acclaimed Bukowski ( Ham on Rye ), who died recently, leaves us with this spoof of the hardboiled detective genre, featuring an L.A.-based private investigator named Nick Belane. As the title makes clear, this novel is dedicated to bad writing, and readers who choose to ignore this warning and plunge ahead will soon know why. A spoof should be funnier and sharper than what it is spoofing but, compared to Hammett and Chandler, Pulp is quite simply trash. In the opening pages, Belane is paid a visit by a lady in red named Lady Death, who turns out to be death itself looking for the French author Celine, who should have died a long time ago but hasn't. Belane's search for Celine leads him to some space aliens who have assumed human shape, and to some juvenile encounters with an unhappily married couple. Along the way, every woman he meets is a dish, and every man is a dumb thug. In every bar he visits, Belane is mistaken for somebody else, a mistake which invariably erupts in a murderous brawl. The prose is practically nonexistent, and you can forget character. All that's left is humor and philosophy, but Belane's humor is all bathroom and his philosophy can be summed up in the lines, ``I wasn't dead yet, just in a state of rapid decay. Who wasn't?'' Bukowski has taken the worst of the PI genre, stripped it bare, and added nothing but a dose of adolescent posturing. It's sad thatBukowski has left as his parting gesture a book so weak and thin. (June)
This is a darkly humorous takeoff of private eye novels, replete with the recently deceased Bukowski's usual scatalogical unpleasantries. Nick Belane, a hard-drinking, foul-mouthed Los Angeles detective who charges $6 per hour, is swatting flies in his office when in walks a ``glorious dizziness of flesh'' who introduces herself as Lady Death. She wants Belane to verify that a man she spotted in a bookstore is the long-dead writer Céline. The ``real Céline,'' she says, ``not just some half-assed wannabe. There are too many of those.'' He accepts the job, which, of course, takes him to every gin mill in the city. He's also hired to locate something called the Red Sparrow, to tail a cheating wife, and to investigate a voluptuous space alien named Jeannie Nitro who's been harassing a wimpy mortician and occupying his customers. All four cases, of course, dovetail into an existential nightmare. There are some truly funny moments, but many will find Bukowski's raw, ugly side repulsive and his negativity unbearable. Recommended for large literature collections.-Ron Antonucci, Hudson Lib. & Historical Society, Ohio
Not since George Orwell has the condition of being down-and-out been so well recorded * New York Times *