by Taylor MacHenry
Not long ago, my friend and fellow writer, Kirk Ellis, posted his contribution to his friend Stuart Rosebrook’s challenge to post on Facebook banned books and drive Facebook censors crazy. Yes, a worthy cause.
Of course, my heart went straight to Harper Lee’s brilliant novel that won her the Pulitzer Prize for literature in 1961 and was voted by the American people its favorite novel, To Kill a Mockingbird. A book that has been banned multiple times since 1968 through today with other people knowing best what a person ought to be ALLOWED to read. Set in a time when Jim Crow laws caused many innocent poor people to suffer terrible injustices, like the railroading of Tom Robinson, innocent but convicted anyway because he’s Black. That was a time when mentally challenged people like Boo Radley suffered persecution no different than Quasimodo. Scout and Jem and father, Atticus Finch, knew better, despite that ugly world that told an American truth that held up a mirror to our biased faces and helped make us better for it.
Oh, but why even enter such things in the mind? We must control the narrative that the people hear, so they can act pure and be pure and not hate. Right, that’s called brain washing. Censorship is in a way a means to wash the minds of the people, so they will agree on the prescribed politically correct path.
Me? I was always the kid who wondered why books got banned, so I searched out underground copies of the forbidden texts and read them.
Hate is hate. Thus, censors scurry today to rid us of such trash that perhaps might offend us or cause us hurt. So, they ban To Kill a Mockingbird, and of late, they remove from publication six books penned by Dr. Seuss, yanked by the sensitive publishers at Penguin Random House. Because they might be hurtful.
And that brings me to my entry of books best consumed in brown paper wrappers, for fear that the thought police might see us reading them.
As a writer, I find inspiration from an odd assortment of authors, poets and novelists, all tormented by inner demons, with which I use to mold myself into the writer I want to be, and perhaps explain why I share such demons with them. Among this sordid cast of mostly human trash, foreign to polite society, living in the shadow of down-looking noses, rises perhaps my all-time favorite, Charles Bukowski.
I find connection with such nihilistic social rejects as Hank Moody, the main character in Tom Kapinos’ creation, Californication. Totally depraved and yet inspiring. It did seven seasons on Showtime, so someone watched it. Besides me.
I liked it because I know Hank Moody’s heart. Since I have not talked to Tom Kapinos about his inspiration for Hank, I can’t say for sure. But I suspect that Kapinos, like me, draws much inspiration from the insufferable reprobate Charlie Bukowski and his even more deplorable alter-ego, Henry “Hank” Chinaski.
Hank Moody and Hank Chinaski are their own worst enemies. Very much alike. If you’ve watched the seven seasons of Californication, and related to Hank, then you must also read Bukowski’s five novels that take us through the life of Hank Chinaski.
Read the five novels in this order:
First, read Ham on Rye, then next slum your way through the pages of my offering for the list of books that offend the Facebook censors, Factotum. You’ll be hooked with Ham on Rye, and Factotum picks right up.
Then you can settle into the steamy drunk pages of Post Office, where we journey with Hank Chinaski, aspiring to be a novelist but needing to eat, gets a job delivering mail. That, and seducing women, and staying drunk as he tries to write, and keep afloat, resisting everything except temptation. Yet Hank finally reels out his first novel, as Post Office slides to a slow stop.
Next on the reading list we find Bukowski’s introspection of himself through Henry Chinaski in his novel called, Women. In it, life gets good for Henry Chinaski after his first novel takes him to stardom. Down on life, down on stardom, cynical yet fun-seeking, Hank Chinaski and Hank Moody would live well together, if they ever met. And somehow, I believe that Tom Kapinos probably did just that with these two howling mad writers.
A trail of lost loves in his own life, shown to us in the life of Hank Chinaski, I am not surprised that Charlie Bukowski wrote a book of poems entitled: Love is a Dog from Hell.
While the last in the life of Hank Chinaski, the novel Hollywood takes our hero to the land of crazy, phony and glitter, Los Angeles. Here we see Henry Chinaski write the screenplay called, Barfly.
And while Hank Chinaski lives the depraved, careless and self-absorbed life of a writer spinning out of emotional control in the novel, Hollywood, Charles Bukowski lives a similar, depraved life for real as he writes the screenplay for the 1987 feature film, Barfly, which starred Mickey Rourke and Faye Dunaway.
When you finish reading Hollywood, get a copy of the book form screenplay, Barfly. It’s the final edit of the script, all written by Charles Bukowski.
Charlie Bukowski died in San Pedro, California on March 9, 1994, at the age of 74 years old. Same as my age now. And just as cranky and cynical.
He got his first story published in 1944 and never stopped smoking and drinking and living life with little to no control. His physical body’s worst enemy and his emotional being’s champion of self-abuse, Charlie never stopped writing for the next 50 years.
That’s when God stopped him.
In his tracks.
A few weeks before the Grim Reaper took Charlies Bukowski down for the count, Black Sparrow Press published the first edition hardcover of Charlie Bukowski’s (Hank Chinaski’s) final novel, Pulp.
While looking Lady Death square in the kisser, Bukowski dedicates his story told in Pulp to “bad writing.”
His novel, you see, takes dead center aim at writers and publishers and spoofs their pretentious, over-inflated, narcissistic world.
No ground is sacred.
Replete with everything vile and reviling, lewdness, drunkenness, debauched, hurtful, insulting, immoral but downright funny and heartbreaking.
No Facebook censor could ever allow any of these novels to appear on these hallowed, sensitive and politically woke webpages.
So, I offer to the Facebook censors Charlie Bukowski the man, and Hank Chinaski the fictional hero, and maybe his sidekick, Hank Moody. I guarantee them to be fairly and justly insensitive, insulting and hurtful to all.
But, God bless them, our world would be pretty sad without them.