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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Dirty Old Literature by Dirty Old Men

Posted By on Wed, Aug 10, 2011 at 9:30 AM

We're not afraid to admit it: If that lonely lurker drinking straight whiskey with no ice out of a plastic cup at the back of the bar wrote a book, we would totally stay up all night reading it (bonus if he knows how to properly use the comma). Lucky for us, for centuries dirty old men have been filling pages with their desperation and longing, graphically detailing all of the sex they're probably not having. These five fellas have made us feel slightly dirty and uncomfortable by turning their lust into literature.

The Most Beautiful Woman in Town and other stories by Charles Bukowski


The man: Imagine a cheap, seedy hotel room, the kind with grime-slicked carpet, a stained mattress, and cigarette burns dotting the bedspread. A woman wearing a black satin slip and smudged red lipstick lies with a thin pillow wadded beneath her head, smoking a long, slim cigarette. Meanwhile, Bukowski sits in the bathroom, swilling whiskey and listening to the woman ramble about Mahler and the Los Angeles heat. Play this scene on repeat for about 50 years, interspersed with manic episodes of gambling or plunking away at a typewriter, and you'll have a fairly complete picture of Bukowski's life (or at least the persona he created for himself).

The book: In this collection of stories, Bukowski smashes any suggestion that he might occasionally think about anything other than sweaty, slippery, stinky sex and really lets his pervert flag fly. In "Six Inches," the narrator's lover belittles him to the point that he actually starts shrinking, and when he stands at just six inches tall, she calls him her "precious little cock" and uses him as a dildo. In "The Fuck Machine," the narrator meets an inventor at a bar whose "daughter" is really a lifelike sex doll he hid from Hitler. In "The Copulating Mermaid of Venice, California," two drunks watch a hearse drive past and decide to "grab a stiff, just for laughs." When they discover they've swiped the body of a young woman -- well, at this point, you can probably guess what (or who) comes next. After swimming in all of this borderline misogynistic fucking and sucking, it's easy to overlook the book's title story, an almost thoughtful portrait of a beautiful but self-destructive woman that is probably as close as Bukowski ever came to being sweet.

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Angela Lutz


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