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on 29 December 2006
Bukowski's final novel isn't the one he'll be remembered for, but it's easily the equal of his other great novels; Post Office, Factotum & Ham on Rye.

Pulp is known as his funniest novel but there's poignancy behind the humour, as Pulp features many ruminations on death and ageing. Death is a character, but instead of a traditional cloaked skeleton, Bukowski's personification of death is a blonde vixen in a red dress, who enlists the help of a private detective to find a French novelist who has tricked her into thinking he's already dead. Throughout the novel, Lady Death keeps reminding the detective that his time will come too, echoing Bukowski's own concerns about mortality.

Familiar Bukowski staples (bars, racetracks) keep his fans happy, but the rest of the novel shows a more surreal side to Bukowski, which had only been previously shown in some of his short stories. Pulp's triumph is in the fact that an old writer more used to gritty realism can write a novel packed with surrealism and still pass with flying colours.
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on 22 July 2005
I hardly ever read books twice(obviously hadnt been reading the right books), Pulp was the first one that i knew i could quite easily pick up and saunter into. It holds, in a diluted form, everything that i know Bukowski for. In my opinion its an impulsive read and really enjoyable while still maintaining the grit that Bukowski wrote on. Good fun.
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on 30 July 2013
As the back cover informs us, 'Pulp' is a fantastical pastiche of a detective story. True in one sense, but this gem of a novel is far more than that. For behind the joyful facade of the quick-fire wise-cracks (Think, The Marx Bros interpret Raymond Chandler) there lie countless serious messages about life, how to cope with one's existence - how to do the best you can with what you've got ... Someone once said that life is known only to those who suffer, endure adversity and stumble from one defeat to another. Here, we have such examples in spadefuls. But don't despair, for it's almost hidden by the humour.
Dig deeper under the fun and you'll find re-interpretations of the work of other writers. Bukowski re-affirms Nietzsche's opinion of the human race with, 'Boring damned people. All over the earth' (154) Likewise, Virginia Woolf had clearly thought about how we cope with whatever life throws our way with, 'Thus we spin around us infinitely fine filaments and construct for ourselves a system'. Bukowski's take is: (Life is about) 'The needed machinery of the moment. And those needs keep altering'. (128) The Socratic notion that 'The unexamined life is not worth living', comes from Bukowski's pen as, 'We were all just hanging around waiting to die and meanwhile doing little things to fill the space. Some of us weren't even doing that. We were vegetables'. (147) Our indifference to polluting the planet is clearly stated in p 127, when the visiting Space-aliens decide to leave this earth. 'We've thought it over. It's too awful. We don't want to colonise this earth', and then explain why.
This book is short, and the numerous theories that come in momentarily are what give it its true strength/appeal. Think, Life, ageing, loneliness, attachment theory - it's all there, but only in the fleeting moment, so the flow of the book is never disturbed. While the profound themes are never far away, the wise-cracks are ever present. Obesity: 'He wasn't a fat guy. He was two fat guys'. The name of the psychologist (82) is Seymour ... It's all a bit like Frasier Crane trying to make sense of the Marx Bros. (At the bar) 'Don't I get a receipt?' 'A what?' 'A receipt' ' 'Spell it' ' 'I can't' 'Then you don't get it' (113)
And how to reduce the flight time? Ah yes, I was coming to that ... Yes, the 4 hour flight from the UK to the Canaries was over in just 10 seconds.
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on 8 February 1999
Not the place to start reading Bukowski. This book sees the author gathering together all the various threads that have run through his life. He weaves them together to create a witty and intriguing tapestry. I read this book in one sitting and was thouroughly disheartened by the last page. The book itself could not have been better as far as I was concerned, but I knew it was the last I would hear from him. Read the other works and then come to this title as an insider - the rewards will be great.
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VINE VOICEon 20 November 2009
My first Bukowski novel so I didn't know what to expect. And I certainly wasn't expecting what I got. A fascinating take on the private eye 'noir' element with fantasises that take a bit of getting used to. Once you do that, this is a very funny, yet hard-hitting novel with a great character in Nick Belane. That Pulp is the author's last novel originally published in 1994, the year of the author's death, makes this a more poignant book, since Belane cannot reappear nor can we who have come late to the Bukowski party doing anything more than play catch-up.

Given that some say this is not the best work from the author, and given that I enjoyed it, it looks like I do have plenty of catching up to do.
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on 30 April 2012
Bukowski's last novel is a bit surreal. It has more in common with his short stories than his novels. The grit is here but the plot is made of loose ends. Gumshoe Nicky Belane has adventures involving dead writers, curvaceous grim reapers and alien babes. There's also some vague nonense about a search for the Red Sparrow, which I guess is symbolic, but symbolic of what escapes me.
Despite all that there isn't enough substance to justify a novel and this should have been a short story. Belane's world is unfocused and makes little sense so at almost 200 pages it grows tiresome. I think Bukowski was trying to marry his Chinaski novels' grit with a playful parody of pulp fiction. (Pulp is "dedicated to bad writing," which seems pompous.) A better approach might have been to follow Chinaski as he tried writing a pulp. Belane is Chinaski (who's Bukowski) anyway.
If Pulp had focused on a single storyline, like the alien invasion or Lady Death's search for Celine, and beefed it up a bit, it may have worked. But it just seemed to be a lot of plot threads which appear then disappear. Maybe that's the point.
I'd recommend this novel though because it does have a lot of good moments. Isolated scenes have graceful prose about the mundanities and unfairness of life which Bukowski excelled at, like when Nicky sees a shrink or a haunting dream sequence with a dead pigeon. There's also some funny, if forgettable, dialogue; some titles from Bukowski's book collection are worked in (think Fante and McCullers), and the pulp exchanges do sometimes work as parody. Plus the ending is oddly poignant.
As a great author's swansong though this is disappointing. Okay for fans, but if you're new to Bukowski start with a Chinaski novel.
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on 22 April 1999
Although not one of Bukowski's greatest, it's probably one of the most hilarious. It's similar to the surrealistic writings of some of the short-stories, say where Hitler makes a comeback or the Devil works in a freakshow. You can still find a lot of the familiar Bukowski themes, like the agony of having to deal with other people, or not being able to do your job right. Celine, Hemingway,Fante and Chinaski are still there; so's the whisky and the women. But this time it's thru' dick Belane's eyes. And in the end death moves in for real and our hero is swept away by a blaze of yellow - Bukowskis favorite color.
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on 2 June 2011
While you read this you must have in mind that it was his last book, written while knowing he was about to die. Otherwise all the symbols that he introduces in this "light" noir detective novel are meaningless.
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on 29 June 2005
I didn't expect too much of this having read 'Locked in the Arms of a Crazy Life', a Bukowksi biography that is decidedly reserved in it's praises of this, his last novel. I was pleasantly surprised. It is not a novel about Henry Chinaski though it does name check him, yet Bukowski's Belane character is essentially the same character; a hard drinking misfit spouting his weary view on life. The style you will recognise from Bukowski's previous novels, though this one has been given the form of a Chandler novel. Like Chandler's novels, the lead character is a tough guy; the sort of guy that it is clear the author would like to be.
Like Bukowski's other novels, this is very short, and therefore infectious to read and there are enough funny lines to make up for it's small failings. It may not be as great an achievement as Post Office, but I would say it's probably funnier. So it's worth spending the couple of hours it takes to read it.
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on 8 November 2012
I've read about half of the book by now, but already I personally think it's one of Bukowski's best books. Hopefully I wont be disappointed by the second half. Connecting author's typical rudeness with surreality and adding pinch (ok, quite big one, but anyway) of contemplating about death is just great mixture.
The true is, it's not the best book to start with if you're gonna read Bukowski for the first time. It takes time to get used to his style and character, but then...
Love it!
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