William S. Burroughs’ Junky: A Spiritual Quest via Heroin Addiction

Junkie by William BurroughsJunky, a semi-autobiographical novel by William S. Burroughs, is a seductive story set at the inception of the “hip” subculture in America. The story follows a man at odds with American mainstream culture into a quest for spiritual meaning via heroin. Burroughs did, in fact, start using heroin in 1944 and within a year, he was an addict. Though the book does not shy away from the sordid aspects of an addict’s life, this is not a literary Reefer Madness. Continue reading William S. Burroughs’ Junky: A Spiritual Quest via Heroin Addiction

Paul Bowles’ The Sheltering Sky: The Void Meets the Deg

The Sheltering Sky by Paul BowlesThe key to Paul Bowles’ 1949 novel is found in the epigraph by Franz Kafka that introduces “Book Three:  The Sky”:

From a certain point onward there is no longer any turning back. That is the point that must be reached.

The Sheltering Sky, Paul Bowles’ first novel and his most well-known work of fiction, is about getting to that point beyond which there is no turning back; it’s about ripping away the illusion of the “sheltering sky” and staring straight into the void. Continue reading Paul Bowles’ The Sheltering Sky: The Void Meets the Deg

Excerpt from RISK OF RUIN, a new novel by Arnold Snyder

 Chapter Ten

It was in the parking lot of a Raley’s supermarket in Reno. He was giving her a ride home from work and they’d stopped for a quart of milk and a Hershey bar. It was a sticky summer day. Leaning up against a side wall of the store, gulping down a few swallows of the icy milk, he saw her photo on the milk carton. He looked at the photo, looked at Stacy, looked hard at the photo again. It was definitely her. No doubt. He read the bad news …

Have You Seen Me?
Julia Gwendolyn Thomas
Age: 15
Height: 5’6″
Weight: 112 lbs.
Hair: Auburn
Eyes: Green
Last seen: Milpitas, California
Call: 1-888-FINDERS

She was licking chocolate off her fingers.

“Julia?”

She looked up, responding to her name, then—in a split second—he saw a chill run through her. “Why did you call me that?” Continue reading Excerpt from RISK OF RUIN, a new novel by Arnold Snyder

Hunter S. Thompson’s The Rum Diary – Only Fools Fall in Love

Whoever would have thought that Hunter S. Thompson had a soft, sensitive side, a deeply emotional side, pained by loneliness? The Rum Diary is a love story, the only love story Thompson ever wrote, and in my opinion, it’s his best work. Love without romance is not easy to pull off. Sex without romance is a piece of cake, which is what we usually get in dick lit. But The Rum Diary isn’t porno. There’s not much graphic sex in this book, just a bit at the end, by which time you’re aching for it. This is a love story. Continue reading Hunter S. Thompson’s The Rum Diary – Only Fools Fall in Love

Chad Kultgen’s The Average American Male – What Salinger Couldn’t Say

This novel by Chad Kultgen reminds me more than any other book of J.D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye. The main difference is that The Average American Male is simply more honest about the way young guys think about sex. I’m sure just about every guy who reads The Average American Male starts cracking up almost immediately because he relates to the way the narrator’s mind works, mentally undressing every attractive female he sees and imagining raunchy sex acts. It may be a slight exaggeration of the “average” American male’s mind—granted:  most men don’t masturbate ten times a day—but the mental activity itself is not that far from average. This really is how guys think, all guys—I suspect even gay guys think like this, except that their fantasies are about men instead of women.

Continue reading Chad Kultgen’s The Average American Male – What Salinger Couldn’t Say

Charles Bukowski’s Post Office – Through Rain, Sleet, Snow and Booze

Charles Bukowski is primarily known as a poet. He was also a lifelong alcoholic and often wrote about his drinking in both his poems and especially in his prose. Post Office was his first novel.

Although it’s labeled “a novel,” Post Office is really a memoir. (I think the only actual novel Bukowski ever wrote was Pulp, a parody of a detective novel, “Dedicated to bad writing,” that was published in 1994, the year he died. I’ll review Pulp in the future.) There’s no plot to Post Office, hardly even a story. A man hires on as a letter carrier, works a few years then quits. He hires on again as a clerk, works a lot more years, then quits again. That’s the story.

In this time frame of some 14-15 years, he goes through a number of wives and lovers, drinks, has a kid, drinks, plays the horses, and drinks. I’ve heard many people say they love Bukowski’s poetry, but hate his prose. In my opinion, they’re not reading him right. His prose is poetry. I’m not saying that every word Bukowski has ever written is poetry. But there are hundreds of poems, disguised as prose, throughout his “novels.” Post Office is a book you can flip open to any page and start reading and you’ll soon find yourself engrossed.

Continue reading Charles Bukowski’s Post Office – Through Rain, Sleet, Snow and Booze

Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk – A First Novel with Punch

We are getting into some serious dick-lit here. There’s so much testosterone gumming up the pages of this thriller, you could tear ’em out, chew ’em up, and throw away your Cialis prescription. Here’s the story in a nutshell:

Guy can’t sleep. Chronic insomnia. He’s suffering. Shrink tells him he’s a wimp. “Why don’t you go to a cancer patient support group so you can see what real suffering is?” Guy goes to a testicular cancer support group. The ploy works. Guy sees that men with no balls are in bad shape, making his complaints about sleeplessness pale by comparison. What’s insomnia compared to having your nuts chopped off? Continue reading Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk – A First Novel with Punch