Charles Bukowski is one of America's best-known contemporary writers of poetry and prose and, many would claim, its most influential and imitated poet. He was born in 1920 in Andernach, Germany, to an American soldier father and a German mother, and brought to the United States at the age of two. He was raised in Los Angeles and lived there for over fifty years. He died in San Pedro, California, on March 9, 1994, at the age of seventy-three, shortly after completing his last novel, Pulp. Abel Debritto, a former Fulbright scholar and current Marie Curie fellow, works in the digital humanities. He is the author of Charles Bukowski, King of the Underground, and the editor of the Bukowski collections On Writing, On Cats, and On Love.
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