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Posts Tagged ‘Charles Bukowski’

An Intro to the Finnish Readers of Rendezvous’ssa re US Writer Scott C. Holstad, Circa 1993

Posted by Scott Holstad on October 13, 2021

When I started getting published in 1988-89, somehow — I no longer remember how — I came into contact with some Finnish writers, editors, publishers & magazines by at least 1990. At the time, Bukowski was very popular in Finland (& with me as well) & I’m afraid that like many, I emulated him just a tad too much for my first couple of years. But I started to branch out, set my own tone & feel, & develop my own reputation (never close to Bukowski’s, of course). In the meantime, I started getting published in small magazines in Finland, typically in English but sometimes in Finnish — which I didn’t read at the time. One editor really liked me, solicited stuff from me constantly, was a great guy & eventually asked if he could publish a small booklet of my poems, which kind of blew my mind (as it would be my first international book; I had already had something published in the US). My first poetry collection came out in the Spring 1991. I agreed to Jounni’s request & my 2nd collection, Industrial Madness, came out in December 1991. Other editors & magazines started soliciting work from me, I got to know quite a few good people over there & elsewhere in other countries that would strongly support me for years, such as Belgium, the UK, Canada, Australia, Germany, etc., & I started working with some Finnish friends & colleagues in L.A., where I was living at the time. (This helped me realize I wanted to move to Finland.) That first magazine, & the publishing company, was named Sivullinen. Published me a lot. But soon Sivullinen was joined by Sieto Kukka, Solinar, Talvipaivanseisaus & others. I also started getting fan mail. Now as strange it must seem to those of you who never knew me or heard of me as a writer, I actually did go through a 15+/- year period of massive productivity & was sometimes referred to as the most prolific man in the world at the time! (“Man” because no one could beat the late Lyn Lifshin, though I competed well for awhile. “Queen of the Small Press?” How many hundreds of books, many thousands of magazines? Every single literary one I ever saw, it often seemed like. But I was the male Lifshin “Lite,” so had some standing in that literary world.) So I started receiving fan mail from all over the world. And lots of requests, solicitations, offers to publish my books, & the occasional bra in a package from some sweet but delusional girl in a few different places. I had been getting published with Buk in many of the same mags since 1990, started corresponding with him then, would later go over to his house in San Pedro when I moved to Long Beach and he was nice enough to sign a few books for/to me, as well as a Bukowski t-shirt. This made me seem cooler to those that didn’t realize I wasn’t worth shit compared to the big boys. Nonetheless, Buk and I went from being published in a lot of the same magazines (with Gerry Locklin) to being put on the cover of a Finnish magazine, the name of which I no longer recall, which made it appear that we were standing side by side when in fact, it was just a slick Photoshop job of getting a photo of each of us to look, oh, like we were actually literally beside each other. But in a sense, we were at that moment. And even better, the cover screamed “Bukowski and Holstad!” Awesome. I actually don’t know why I was THAT excited because as the former editor of Caffeine magazine noted, for much of the 1990s, Caffeine was literally the biggest poetry magazine in America and since I started out with Rob in issue 1 and since he wanted to start off with a bang, among those he published were Ginsberg and Bukowski. On the cover. With me. And Buk and I appeared on many future covers of Caffeine and of some various other publications while he was still alive, but I’m not actually trying to brag so much as simply describe what it was like back then.

Which brings me to this collage I made this morning. And I do apologize for the state of the little article on the left. It’s barely readable, but I ran across it recently, hadn’t seen it in years/decades and couldn’t contain my enthusiasm, because it’s been a long time. So this little barely readable article is obviously in Finnish and it’s by the editor of what was a new-to-me Finnish magazine that would go on to publish me often: Rendezvous’ssa, or shortened in English, Rendezvous, It’s a little Introduction about me to the magazine’s readers. Appeared around the beginning of 1993. Since I was once so active in Finland (not only in writing/publishing, but in business as well, in other areas), I had various Finnish friends & colleagues & a couple would translate things like this, or longer, for me, but that was a long time ago & even though I learned to read & speak several languages, I’m beyond rusty now. And I no longer have access to translator friends. I can recall the person who translated this for me back in ’94, but I lost whatever the content was many years ago, so while I generally remembered what this said, I wanted to be able to read it fairly accurately again, so I decided to make an attempt to translate it myself. Which I did. Despite being rusty by many years. But with the admission that I had to refer to some sources a few times, the two more prominent being Google Translate & Translate.com. I frankly felt neither of them (or any others) did a perfect job & a couple of clauses virtually contradicted each other, so I basically just loosely translated it as reasonably accurately as I felt I could/should & the primary reason it may appear to a Fin to not be perfectly accurate is likely because of grammatical differences in the two languages, such as subject/object placement, etc. I moved a few things around but didn’t consciously try to add or eliminate anything of note. You’ll notice there were two or three words that I simply could not figure out, even within the context, so I guessed as best I could. I actually have hundreds of Finnish contacts and connections these days, many of them in the FDF, so if any of them were to see this & wish to correct me, improve this or comment, I’m open. So here’s my little goofy collage, which will mean little to most, but brings back good memories for me. Cheers!

Finnish introduction of US writer Scott C. Holstad to the readers of Rendezvous’ssa, followed by an English translation of my own

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My Years In Books: 2019

Posted by Scott Holstad on December 24, 2019

Every year, I participate in the Goodreads Annual Reading Challenge. At the beginning of each year, you set a goal for how many books you’ll read that year. Goodreads keeps track of your running total and then lets you know how you’ve done and what percentage of your goal you met. You can also see other participants in the Reading Challenge. Each year, they provide an end of year webpage showing your stats, how you did, etc. For some reason, they recently decided to make them only able to share to a few social network sites where I no longer have accounts. I remain annoyed by this, so I’m doing the next best thing for the second straight year. (And you can see my blog entry for 2018’s results here:  My Year In Books: 2018.) I’ve taken several screenshots showing information like what they describe as your “Year in Books,” parts of the webpage showing how many books, pages, etc, you read that year, the average length of the book, etc., my 2019 Reading Challenge results, my Reading Challenge results since 2013 and something I’ve never done before — an intro to the webpage of My Year in Books because as you’ll see, my numbers are tremendously skewed up this year and are thus somewhat deceptive, so I felt obligated to explain. For what it’s worth, I set my 2019 reading goal at 90 books. Goodreads is reporting I read 443 books, or 492% of my original goal. Like I said, I wrote an explanation because while I exceed my goal every year, it’s never by that much and there are a couple of reasons why this year’s numbers aren’t completely accurate. So I’m going to post these screenshots for you to see. If you want to see the actual books I read this year, you can go to my Goodreads profile here. (I believe you have to be a logged in member to view it, however…)

And now, the promised screenshots. Comments are welcome…

 

2019 Goodreads Reading Challenge

My Goodreads 2019 Reading Challenge Results

 

 

 

My Goodreads All-time Annual Reading Challenge Results

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“My Year In Books: 2019”

Goodreads 2019 Reading Challenge

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“My Year In Books: 2019” — Introduction

Goodreads 2019 Reading Challenge

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“My Year In Books: 2019” — End Of Webpage

Goodreads 2019 Reading Challenge

 

 

 

 

 

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A Review of West of Rome

Posted by Scott Holstad on December 14, 2015

West of RomeWest of Rome by John Fante
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I first read Fante some 25 years ago through, of course, the Bukowski connection and I was not disappointed. I bought and read a half dozen Fante books. Then, for some odd reason, I forgot about him. Until recently. Lately, I’ve been pulling some of those old Fante books off the shelf and rediscovering them and reminding myself why I liked reading him in the first place. With that in mind, I ordered this book, West of Rome, which is an odd pairing of two novellas, “My Dog Stupid” and “The Orgy.” The first one, at close to 150 pages, is nearly novel length itself while the latter, at only about 50 pages, is closer to a long short story. And they are very dissimilar and fit oddly together. Which doesn’t make them bad. Not at all. I just wouldn’t read them together at one sitting.

West Of Rome contains the usual gritty, passionate prose Fante is known for, while also, particularly in the first novella, containing the usual rough comedy about difficult situations and people placed in awkward situations and how they deal with them. There’s also the usual explosive display of emotions. In “My Dog Stupid,” Henry Molise and family discover a 120 pound Akita lying in the yard in the rain seemingly near death. They nurse it back to health, place ads notifying the public of having found a lost dog in the papers, and come to grips with the fact that the dog seems to have adopted them. He’s big, strong, a little mean, a little bit loyal, very “passionate” (read horny), gay as the ace of spades (thus, much of the humor), and they name him “Stupid” by default. He humps any and everything that moves, especially if it’s male. Male dogs, male humans, male anything. He becomes known as the community rapist. He humiliates the community bully/watch dog, the regal German Shepard, by trying his best to rape it into submission. It’s hilarious and frightening at the same time.

Molise, meanwhile, is a middle aged failed writer, screenwriter and novelist, who has done nothing of note in some time, living in Malibu with his demanding wife and four grown kids, most all of whom are deadbeats in one way or another. He dreams of selling everything he has and running away to Rome to start over again. He dreams, too, of the kids getting out of the house and letting he and his wife get on with their lives. And so it comes to pass. Their complete spoiled bitch daughter who’s living the good life with an ex-Marine beach bum while in their house gets ticked off at Molise because of the dog and leaves. A son, who dates only black women, which frustrates his racist mother to no end, ends up introducing his parents to a black girlfriend who calls them Mom and Dad, to their horror. Later they get a late night call telling them to come down to Venice Beach and when they arrive at their destination, this woman opens the door and there they find their son, beat to holy hell. They take him away, take him back home, where the son later tells his father that the black girl is his wife and she is pregnant and she beat him up and they fought over what to do about the pregnancy; he wanted to keep the child. Another son has been trying to avoid the military for years, trying to get out due to medical “problems” of one sort or another through quack doctors, and Stupid inadvertently helps when the boy kicks the dog several times when the dog pins the ex-Marine against a wall to hump him and the dog bites the son in the leg. He goes to a doctor, winds up on crutches, and weeks later, unable to walk, gets his military walking papers and is miraculously healed. The fourth child, a son, is a college student who has his mother write all of his English papers for him. It’s especially funny when she gets extremely upset at getting a C on a paper that she did her very best on. However, to their shock and horror, he is thrown out of the college due to lack of attendance and when they confront him, they discover he has been volunteering at a poor community children’s disabled center. But the draft board has called for him and now he is terrified. Naive, he is convinced his good deeds will get him off. His father knows better. And to top things off, the man in charge of the board is someone they had a confrontation with on the beach a few months previously because Stupid tried to rape him too. Needless to say, Molise’s son is in the army in a heartbeat. His one request? Take care of Stupid. Who immediately disappears, nowhere to be found. The parents freak out. And as the climax of the novella approaches, the tension mounts and what was previously an incredibly funny work becomes less so as all of these rather serious life crises have taken their toll on the family, as these lies and pretensions have been lifted and erased. What starts out very funny becomes nearly sad, and at times, quite touching. It takes a gift to be able to make that type of a transition in a short work such as this and pull it off successfully, yet Fante does. It’s truly an excellent work.

“The Orgy” is very different. It’s told from the innocent eyes of a ten year old boy in Boulder, Colorado, the son of an extremely devout Catholic mother and a poor, hard working Italian father whose best friend and workmate is an atheist, much to his wife’s horror and disgust. One of the men, an older black man, who works for the boy’s father dabbles in penny stocks and one day makes a small fortune. He quits, but in a seemingly nice gesture, gives the boy’s father a certificate of ownership to a small gold mine in the mountains north of them. As the man wouldn’t be able to mine on his own, he takes his friend, Frank, as a partner and they start heading off to mine on the weekends, with little luck. The story then centers around one particular weekend when the mother forces her husband to take the son with them to the mine for the weekend and the ultimate loss of innocence that boy encounters along the way. There are moments of humor, but not nearly anything like in the first novella, and in all candor, this work, while decent, pales in comparison to the first and probably shouldn’t have been placed alongside it. It’s bound to be found lacking when compared to the former. It’s good, but merely average when compared to the excellent “Stupid.”

This book was published shortly after Fante’s death in the early 1980s. It’s not his best work, but I’m certainly glad to have it in my library and I think it’s definitely worth four stars. Recommended for anyone who enjoys unpretentious, “real,” funny literature from the author Bukowski admired the most.

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An Edited Review of Charles Bukowski’s Scarlet

Posted by Scott Holstad on January 7, 2013

Charles Bukowski's ScarletCharles Bukowski’s Scarlet by Pamela Wood

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

January 6, 2013 — EDIT:

The author of this book emailed me today and wrote me a very gracious email when she could have rightly attacked me for being so mean spirited in my short, bad review of her book. She assured me of the truthfulness of the book’s contents and told me Bukowski’s publisher, John Martin, had vetted it, so that made it legitimate in my eyes. I feel really very bad for trashing another writer for no good reason. Buk was a hero of mine and I didn’t like seeing what was written about him. It’s as simple as that. Still, that didn’t give me reason to trash the author and I want to publicly apologize for that. I might go back and re-read the book now. I’m going to post my email to Ms. Wood for everyone to see, so that my apology is made public.

Dear Pamela,

Thank you for your gracious email — very unexpected. I feel about an inch tall now. I just went back and re-read that mini-review I wrote some time back and it was mean spirited and wrong of me to attack you, and for that I apologize. I still don’t like the book, but I’ll believe you when you say it’s true and having John Martin OK it speaks volumes, you’re right.

See, Bukowski has been my hero for many decades now. Among my most treasured possessions are books and t-shirts he autographed for me when he was obviously still alive. He and I corresponded, which meant a lot to me as a young writer. We also appeared in a lot of the same magazines together. I know he had a real sensitive side to him that he liked to hide with his gruff exterior, but I loved his tough guy image. And your book damaged that image I had of him. It was hard for me to believe he could be so p***y whipped, which is what it seemed like to me. I’m sure that was the case and kudos to you for making it happen. It just was hard for me to read. It was like seeing my hero toppled from the throne. Maybe that helps explain my hostility.

But nothing excuses my hostility. Again, I apologize profusely. I’m sorry for calling you a crappy writer. You were published by a good press and the writing was fine — I just didn’t like what was written. I’m sorry for making a personal attack against your appearance. That was really below the belt. I’m ashamed.

I’ve never done this, but I’m going to see if I can’t edit my book review and provide some more details and better context, complete with apology. I assume I can do this with Goodreads. If it’s any consolation to you, the only bad review one of my books got on that site was from someone who admitted in the review he hadn’t even read my book — he just wanted to trash it. That stung.

I’m glad you’ve worked so hard to become successful in your life and continued good luck to you in your endeavors. It must be something to be somewhat of a living legend. That’s something no one can take from you. Thanks again for your email.

Regards,
Scott Holstad

_______________________________________________

I thought this was a terrible book by a crappy writer with an ax to grind, who also was extraordinarily narcissistic. She really felt like the world revolved around her and Bukowski jumped to be with her. She was a high school drop out who had a kid at something like age 15 who was a waitress at a dump. And one of the greatest authors in the world is drooling over her and does her every bidding cause she’s so great and she feels sorry for him, so she lets him near her. I found almost nothing in the book to be remotely credible. Buk may have had a thing for her, but she places far too much importance on herself, in my opinion. It also looks like she’s had some work done judging by the back cover photo. Honestly, I thought she was pond scum. Sorry.

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Philip K. Dick – Ubik

Posted by Scott Holstad on April 16, 2012

Ubik

By Philip K. Dick

Originally published in 1969

Plot Summary: Glen Runciter is dead. Or is everybody else? Someone died in an explosion orchestrated by Runciter’s business competitors. And, indeed, it’s the kingly Runciter whose funeral is scheduled in Des Moines. But in the meantime, his mourning employees are receiving bewildering — and sometimes scatological — messages from their boss. And the world around them is warping in ways that suggest that their own time is running out. Or already has. Philip K. Dick’s searing metaphysical comedy of death and salvation the latter available in a convenient aerosol spray is tour de force of paranoiac menace and unfettered slapstick, in which the departed give business advice, shop for their next incarnation, and run the continual risk of dying yet again.

via Philip K. Dick – Ubik.

Another Philip K. Dick classic I need to read. I’ve been reading a lot of Dick lately, and it’s been enormously enjoyable. His short stories are basically excellent Twilight Zone-like mind fucks, and his novels are brilliant essays on reality — what is and what isn’t reality — and so much more. This book seems to fall into that vein, and I’ve got to put it on my Amazon Wish List soon. I already have something like 5 movies based on his works on my wish list, as well as several other books of his. For decades, Charles Bukowski has been my favorite poet and writer out there. I’m beginning to think that while Buk will always remain my favorite poet, Dick is slowly supplanting him as my favorite fiction writer. Ooooh, major mind fuck!

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