by Charles Bukowski
Sensational review by the What's Lit, What's Shit Book Club's wise elder, Steven Julius.
So I began this one somewhat hungover, still in the belief that I was reading Cormac McCarthy and worried that, as usual, his stories would go fucking nowhere and just drag you down. The two authors do have a similarity in their descriptive talent. That’s about it.
In the haze of confusion I had found myself in, I found some structure and a theme other than disconnection or pointlessness, and a storyline that wasn’t just movement along a trail. This tasted different. Mind you, I hadn’t found the sweetest flavour, "I sat down and found a half a dead cigar in the ash tray. I lit it up, took a drag, gagged. Not too bad." It was evident fairly quickly I was drinking something different.
This is a godless, unapologetic, pub-crawl of a detective story. However, to say that nothing is sacred in this novel would not be the truth. Beauty is sacred to this man. Not beautiful sunsets or any of that regular artistry, but the beauty of a woman. His description of Jeannie Nitro is outstanding. As is his constant statements that Lady Death looked great each time she came into his mind. At one point she had looked better than ever. These had to be allusions to his own coming fate, and fair enough. He had to be in some serious pain. I think there is some acceptance there that death will take the pain…probably a stretch.
I’m sure he got into some good drink in the end. I’m picturing him there with whatever cigars were available, but with the best scotch he could find. The solace he found in a drink away from everybody else flows through this book from start to finish. I’m picturing him their over his typewriter reminiscing and aiming to do himself justice.
In the old days writers’ lives were more interesting that their writing.
Now-a-days neither the lives nor the writing is interesting.
I think he did...alright. I’m done. I’ve written enough. Nah fuck it. One more quote:
So, there I was depressed again. I drove back to my place, got in and opened a bottle of scotch. I was back with my old friend, scotch and water. Scotch is a drink you don’t take to right off. But after you work with it a while it kind of works its magic on you. I find a special touch of warmth to it that whisky doesn’t have.
The truth has been written.
Down and Out in Paris and London
by George Orwell
Steven Julius has once more shone bright like a blood diamond and provided a sensational review. Enjoy:
OK. I’ve had a couple of beers and I’m ready to write up this little cracker. Orwell sets out his stated purpose right away. A description of poverty is the goal here and he is very clear. Each and every story throughout this book shows poverty in multiple shades from starvation and homelessness up to wage slavery. He follows briefly in his summation with suggestions for legislative change in England . He has put down a few ideas to help solve some of the issues regarding poverty and to utilise the wasted time and work and life of the impoverished.
He attempts to dispel myths about the character of the impoverished. “Fear of the mob is a superstitious fear. It is based on the idea that there is some mysterious difference between rich and poor, as though they were two different races, like Negroes and white men. But in reality there is no such difference. The average millionaire is only the average dishwasher dressed in a new suit.”
He attempts to dispel myths about cleanliness in kitchens of ‘smart’ restaurants. (I could quote half the book here.)
And throughout the novel attempts to dispel the myth that a person has something to do with charity is invariably good. His views on the Salvation Army are not positive. It feels very like he has held his blows there. When he speaks of lodging-house he mentions preachers letting themselves in. They have sway with the police so they can do what they like. Imagine if the Jehova’s Witnesses came at dinnertime and sat at your table. “It is curious how people take it for granted that they have the right to preach to you and pray over you as soon as your income falls below a certain level.”
I feel like Orwell lived a pray-for-a-meal situation and greatly resented it. There are multiple references to religious charities feeding the hungry conditionally. This was not uncommon though. It seems all charity came as a price back then, whether it be wasted time, dignity or some other form of suffering.
Definitely worth the read.
Other than my basic review there where quite a few other thing in this that I liked. There was a lot of googling required for me. I know barely any french. One of my favourite quotes from this is about a ‘swindler’ in his lodging house. “I talked to him and found that, like most swindlers, he believed a great part of his own lies.” This made me think of every fuckwit spiritualist or psychic or homeopath under the sun.
During Orwell's discussion on swearing he mentions the Hindustani word ‘bahinchut’. I asked someone who speaks the language. It means one who rapes his sister. If ‘barnshoot’ ever comes up I’ll know the derivation thanks to George.
And I found a link to 1984. He mentions myths throughout his book, but one in particular is the common belief in the right of a sovereign to be the first to sleep with a newly married woman, ‘droit du seigneur’. It didn’t happen. Orwell states in 1984 that there is a government-funded textbook that states, “the law by which every capitalist had the right to sleep with any woman working in one of his factories" History is written by politicians. (I didn’t remember this quote - thanks Wikipedia)
This man could describe.