Inspiration from Unlikely Places

“Bukowski … he any good?”
“…. Define good.”
“Beautiful Creatures”

The nice thing about our time is that we have access to so many published works. If you like a particular kind of fiction, chances are, you find a lot of works in that genre. And Amazon and other recommendation systems — digital or human — will be happy to point them out to you.

While this is nice, as you can easily escape into the worlds of fiction where you feel at home, there might be other interesting kinds of works that you miss. Few recommendations go beyond one’s own nose, make you leave your own comfort zone. You might stay very close to what you are normally reading — because it’s just comfortable. You know you like it. But what if there are things out there that you not only like, but love?

This is one reason why I think that — from time to time — it’s nice to be inspired by references in movies and books and try them out. And no matter the quality of the source, as even bad directors and authors can point to gems.

Currently I’m trying out Bukowski — and yup, due to the quotation in the beginning of this posting. Besides looking for the book that was shown in the movie (“You Get So Alone at Times That It Just Makes Sense”), whose title hit a spot and which is still in the mail, I ordered “Love is a Dog From Hell”. Both as much for the title as the cover design. “Love is a Dog From Hell” has already arrived and I was a bit surprised that it is actually a poetry collection. I haven’t read poetry for a long, long time, but hey, that’s what jumping blindly gets you, and more research would have probably thrown me off.

And so far, it’s an interesting read — and I use the term “interesting” in the literal, cognitively and emotionally stimulating sense, not in the “yawn, interesting” sense (Many people, unfortunately some of them female, get this wrong when I say it.). It’s interesting, because it’s so far off from what I usually read — in genre and style, that I have to stretch myself and wrap my head around it, and yet there are some interesting points of view. For example, take his poem “how to be a great writer” (yup, had to stumble upon that one):

how to be a great writer

you’ve got to fuck a great many women
beautiful women
and write a few decent love poems.

and don’t worry about age
and/or freshly-arrived talents.

just drink more beer
more and more beer

and attend the racetrack at least once a

and win
if possible.


Beginning of “how to be a great writer” from the collection “Love is a Dog From Hell” by Charles Bukowski (can’t post the whole poem because I think it would go beyond fair use then)

The poem continues in this style and it’s … I don’t know, it makes you feel and think, which I think (and feel) is the main point of trying out something new.

So, it’s a nice example what can happen if you follow an unlikely inspiration and try something out that is beyond your established tastes, even if it appears ridiculous … at first glance. Worked well here, worked well when having a look at the book “Starship Troopers” after seeing a … ‘freely adapted’ movie version of the story (= has almost nothing to do with the book). Which brought me to reading Robert A. Heinlein’s works, one of my favorite authors, because he also makes me feel and think.

And sure, some things books and movies point to will be wastes of time (for you), but others work really well. And there is no way of finding out which is which without trying it out and experiencing it for yourself.