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Pulp Paperback – May 31, 2002

3.9 out of 5 stars 99 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

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.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

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 Celine. The "real Celine," 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
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Ecco; 1st Ecco Ed edition (May 31, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0876859260
  • ISBN-13: 978-0876859261
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 0.5 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (99 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #71,540 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Nicola Terrenato on January 12, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Written as he was fighting the illness that would kill him, this is Bukowski's farewell to his readers. As he said elsewhere of his hero Céline, "they ripped his guts out and he made them laugh". And this is what he proceeds to to in Pulp. Portraying himself as a blundering, idiotic detective, he pokes the ultimate fun at his own work as a writer. He hasn't even begun to solve any of the mysteries of life and yet he is about to die a meaningless death (in the allegory, the lease on his office is expiring), surrounded by even worse clowns and failures than he is. Personifications of his earlier selves are also there (the gambling addict mailman, see Post Office) and he resolutely thrashes them in the most poignant self-critique you'll ever find anywhere. Believe it or not, this book is a sublime act of bravery in the face of insurmountable odds.
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Format: Paperback
I first heard of Charles Bukowski when i was reading a news update on the band Shiner's website and it made me curious. Then i was at a Dismemberment Plan concert and someone in one of the opening acts had a Charles Bukowski T-shirt on. If an author has people wearing T-shirts with his likeness on them he must be good. Right?
Pulp is a funny and vulgar parody of Pulp mystery novels, and revolves around Nick Belane a Private Detective in Hollywood. The book follows his misadventures that include working for Lady Death, a space alien called jeannie nitro, hunting for the famous French author Celine (who is suppose to be dead), looking for a red sparrow, and lots of drinking. In Pulp Bukowski mixes the pulp novel, hopelessness, lonelyness, and extreme vulgarity and somehow makes it funny. His writing style is very character centered and is very dialog oriented. The story and even plot seemed to take a backseat. However Pulp is not for everyone. It's funny, but it's humor is dark, and it is very very vulgar. I can't stress that last part enough. This book is vulgar, so if you get easily offended don't buy it. Otherwise this book is very easy and funny read.
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Format: Paperback
I first picked this up a year ago and didn't like it. I think that's because I'd just read his powerful autobiographical novels Post Office and Ham on Rye and wanted more of the same. Pulp, Bukowski's last novel, was completed shortly before his death in 1994 and is more a work of fantasy--an absurd detective tale written in classic hardboiled private eye style. It's a pageturner, and I'd love to see it turned into a movie. It starts when Lady Death hires private dick Nick Belane to ascertain the identity of someone she thinks is Celine, who has somehow escaped her grasp. Bukowski's Celine is hilarious, a master of the put-down. More clients follow, in the best film noir tradition, but with bizarre and humorous twists. Belane's association with Lady Death proves beneficial a number of times, but it is not without its price. I couldn't put this down and the ending is a gutwrencher. Running gags like Belane's "high" fee ($6 an hour) and his inability to get served in bars without a hassle prove Buk's masterful comic touch, while slice of life digressions take the reader places few writers go. For instance, a space alien laments: "The earth. Smog, murder, the poisoned air, the poisoned water, the poisoned food, the hatred, the hopelessness, everything. The only beautiful thing about the earth is the animals and now they are being killed off, soon they will be gone except for pet rats and race horses. It's so sad, no wonder you drink so much." Dedicated to "bad writing," Pulp is anything but.
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Format: Paperback
I'm slightly hesitant to give this three stars instead of two, but Bukowski is one of my all time favorites so I'll give him a break in case he's reading this from beyond the grave. Pulp is the last of Bukowski's short list of novels (in comparison to how many books he's published). It also happens to be his worst (in my humble opinion) book, period. I must say I appreciate his divergence from his usual, Henry Chinaski autobiographical stuff, but this one falls short. The main character is a private dick who gets involved with the spirit of Celine and a sexy alien in this offbeat story that, as the title suggests, plays with Pulp and Noir style. It's a quick, sort of fun read, but it feels thrown together and published on the merit and fame of its author rather than the quality of the book. Pulp kind of reminds me of a bad novel written by a young writer that doesn't realize his lack of talent. Still, it's a must for any Bukowski fan because of how different it is and because he only has a handful of novels. I'm on my way to finishing everything Buk has ever written and this is just another piece of the fantastic whole. If you've never read Bukowski please don't start with this. It's not fair to him. Check out Women or Post Office. If you're a dedicated fan you'll get a kick out of Pulp but will likely agree that it's more a quirky, fun change and another addition to his lexicon than a great work of fiction. That's the best way I can describe it. You can find a synopsis somewhere else.
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Just as the gaping maw that is our culture at large was hard at work trying to define, capture, and devour Bukowski. His final book and final act of rebellion is Pulp.
Surely this book leaves a bitter taste in the mouth of all the people who needed to pin Bukowski down, who thought they had the drunken underworld dweller Bukowski's literary soul dissected on the slab.
They'll try to ignore this book but its here. You cant understand Bukowski without understanding this book so get cracking boys.
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