Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Aimless Reading: The B's, Part 51.2 (Charles Bukowski)

Bukowski, Charles
Notes of a Dirty Old Man


I have a vague recollection of having been given this book as a gift. It may have been given to me by my friend D. when he visited me in Ecuador. He was terribly afraid of flying, and wouldn't you know it his plane was hit by lightning on the way down. He told me the plane suddenly dropped a hundred feet or so and jolted forward and that he grabbed the woman next to him and started screaming "Help me, help me, I don't want to die" at the top of his lungs, terrifying everyone else on the plane.

He brought a video camera with him to Ecuador and was shooting constantly, including video of me, a ponytail halfway down my back, smoking a cigarette while leading a physical education class through a regimen of calisthenics -- in Spanish, natch. I wish I still had that footage.

I also remember filming him for a little while and that while he was telling me a story I let the camera wander down from his face to his hands, which were gesturing in these oddly revealing ways that seemed to be at odds with what he was saying. When we watched the video I had shot later that day, he became upset that I had filmed him that way.

Or he may have given it to me as a gift when he worked at St. Martin's press, where he was constantly stealing books off the shelves of the editors and then selling them at The Strand. He had a hilarious story about the way the book sales went there. There was a whole system in which you announced to someone on the first floor that you had books to sell and then they would shout "Books to go down!" to someone else who would then let you down to the purchasing area, where you would wait in line with a hundred other publishing house underlings who had been stealing books off editors' shelves all day at work. Quite a little racket.

Or maybe it wasn't D. at all. I only know for sure that I never bought this book and, as with most books I am given as gifts (at least, the ones I haven't asked for by name), I never read it. I don't feel like typing out an excerpt, so I won't. So there.

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