Do you also have an author by which you have read all books (s)he has ever written? I have few of them and it seems I like their works in various periods of my life. Let’s say Haruki Murakami, whose books I love very deeply, were almost read only when there were some significant changes happening for me. Another author was no one else than Charles Bukowski – what a jump, huh? As you may assume, his books spoke to me the most during my teenage years, but I still find them intriguing. So when I saw a book having mr. Bukowski already in the title, I wanted to read it and here I am, writing what I think.
Shadowboxing with Bukowski is a fictionalized memoir about Darrell’s past experience as a bookstore owner in San Pedro. In the book, he runs into Charles not only accidentally, but creates with him some kind of bond which only people like them can understand. I was grateful to know more facts about Charles’ life – where he lived, what his books were based on. For me, when someone says his name I imagine a bottle of beer, an ashtray full of cigarettes nearby and himself looking the way he did in 80’. Darell’s way of writing captures all these images in my head and in doing so, for me it was a lovely experience.
I loved how he is portrayed – not only as a man of fights, alcohol and many woman, but also as a silent customer, a gentle soul, a lonesome acquaintance with great knowledge of literature and no interest in publicity. That’s the way I’ve always imagined him and Darell’s description of the spirit of San Pedro and his Little Big Bookshop were just on the point. And I enjoyed this the most.
Honestly, Shadowboxing with Bukowski has such potential – a good idea, obviously deep knowledge of literature and authors, plus very authentic descriptions of a slow, lonely life of one unsuccessful bookstore owner. However, as it is a memoir, there is no story line, no plots and I kind of wanted them there. There are situations repeating themselves so much I almost thought it must be a mistake, e.g. visits of bookstore owner’s father asking about the business situation, troubles with the wife. Yes, it created impression of his miserable personal and professional life, but it could be so much more fun to read it with more side stories – let’s say more developed bookstore visitors or something similar. But I admit then it wouldn’t be a memoir, just a mix of memories and tales we readers yearn for. No one can please everyone and that’s fine.
Read Shadowboxing with Bukowski if you like meditating over relationships, if you feel down (it may help you to see you are possibly not the only one) and of course if you like Charles Bukowski. I bet he would like himself there.
Note: I received this book in NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.