Film, Alcohol, and Alcohol Poisoning

As I approach the end of Hollywood by Bukowski, I look back in retrospect at the events Bukowski’s alter-ego, Henry Chinaski, lived through while writing his first screenplay and having it adapted into a movie. I have come to realize that I will miss the experience of reading this for the first time. Although it hasn’t become my favorite book, there is this aspect of it that I really identify with. I can’t exactly put my finger on it. Maybe it is how Bukowski incorporates film into this narrative, or his passion for writing, or how real the characters feel. I don’t know. All I do know is that I am glad this was my first impression of him. To be quite honest, I was expecting this to be very politically incorrect and extremely explicit, since he is known for his misogynistic, graphic content. However, I was pleasantly surprised. I think adding those elements would make it excessive and too contrarian-like.

Overall, I would understand if somebody else gave Hollywood a bad review, but I enjoyed it because it resonated with me and I liked the topics it included in its plot. This will be the first of many Bukowskis for me.

Hollywood Through the Eyes of an Honest Alcoholic

In Charles Bukowski’s Hollywood, Henry Chinaski, a 65-year old writer, is writing his first screenplay. Amidst the instability of the movie stars and the continuous drinks that are poured, Chinaki’s screenplay is adapted into a movie. As he navigates the film industry, he witnesses the shallowness of Hollywood and how rare it is to encounter honesty. Despite these surroundings, he is able to maintain his character and not lose sight of his sense of self.

Bukowski’s wit and humor make this narrative very enjoyable to read. His short sentences and blunt commentary showcase how he is above pretentiousness and does not need to prove himself. He was a very talented writer and I look forward to finishing Hollywood and reading more of his works.

Everywhere to Look, Nothing to Find

In Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl, on the anniversary of the flawless Dunne couple, Amy Dunne goes missing. The entire town searches for the poor woman and as her disappearance does not leave a logical trace, all eyes turn to Nick Dunne, the husband, who has been acting strangely throughout the process of the disappearance of his wife. The novel is formatted in an unconventional manner. The narrative is told by Nick’s perspective, and also through Amy’s old diary entries, both revealing different aspects of the crumbling dynamic of their relationship. Although Nick appears suspicious, the reader is unsure on whether to trust his words or not, as he is the main narrator.

I find Nick quite unlikeable. I prefer to read Amy’s entries, but I do recognize he offers an insightful take on the situation. I usually don’t enjoy reading thrillers, but I am enjoying this one. What I particularly like about Gone Girl is its wit. The observations are very sharp. The language is shocking, raw, and brutally honest, which makes it an enjoyable read. Additionally, I really like that this thriller also focuses on the characters and not simply on its plot.

I am not very far in the story, but I am intrigued to discover what is to come. I am very hopeful about this and looking forward to the “Cool Girl Monologue” that this book is famous for.

Gregor Wakes Up as an Insect

I forced myself to read The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka in one sitting on a school night and finished it at 1am. This will, therefore, consequently have great influence on my review.

To begin, the main character, Gregor Samsa, wakes up as an insect. His first instinct is thinking how he is going to go to work. Later on in the story, this proves to be the least of his worries since as the days go by, he still is unable to return into his human form. I would say the story does not necessarily become more compelling as it goes on due to the fact that it is not very plot-oriented, but rather character-focused. It is a classic that one never forgets after reading considering it is really original and widely referenced. The Metamorphosis clearly shows why the term “kafkaesque” emerged.

This is a story I believe everyone should read at least once since it is a classic, it is short (70 pages or so) and it is very influential on other works of art. Although I speak well of it, I am not sure I would exactly recommend it, but maybe that was the effect of reading it in a rush in one sitting. That is where my bias begins to be questioned. Overall, in my opinion, the story deserves its status as a classic, but it is not one of my favorites.

“The Drugs Don’t Work” – Music Poetry

The song is named “The Drugs Don’t Work”, it is sung by the 90s British band named The Verve, and it is featured on their album called Urban Hymns from 1997 (The Drugs Don’t Work). Richard Ashcroft, vocalist and author of the song, claims that he wrote it for a loved one. He goes on further to say that the song was about how one’s love is predestined and if one of them dies, then they shall meet again eventually. The Drugs Don’t Work is certainly open to interpretation, but most that resonate with it state the song reminds them of a loved one that struggled with substance abuse.

The idea of meeting a loved one again is strongly represented in the following lines: “Now the drugs don’t work. / They just make you worse / But I know I’ll see your face again,” “If heaven falls, I’m coming too,” and in “You leave my life, I’m better off dead” The lines express a balance between melancholy and hope. The melancholia being the fact that they have died and the hope being the thought of seeing them again. The Drugs Don’t Work is like poetry since it is able to convey the mixture of opposite emotions without necessarily comparing them. That is what humanity is all about, ambivalence.  

The Depth and Lyricism in Giovanni’s Room

I am nearly finished with James Baldwin’s Giovanni’s Room. This novel is very lyrical. The language the author utilizes is poetical, almost like food for the mind. This is a character-driven story, which I enjoy, and James Baldwin captures the human condition in such a way that it moves you. You see humans in their rawest portrayal, every emotion on the spectrum.

You might not necessarily identify with David, the main character, you might not approve of his decisions, but you’re left dumbfounded with the beautiful imagery and thinking that he describes. I, for example, do not relate to David in various aspects, but I understand him. You feel his grayness, his dull outlook on life. You feel his soul being stretched out between desire and morality, between choosing a life with Giovanni or choosing a life with Hella. The issue is that desire and morality begin to bleed into one another and we, as well as David, cannot seem to really distinguish them. As I mentioned before, I haven’t finished the novel.

The book is very raw and intimate in the sense that we feel everything. I could paint a picture of the setting very precisely, had I the artistic ability. The reader not only sees the physical location and the people, we see every light, every shadow, we see movement, we see expression. The beautiful depictions of Paris also enthralled me. To phrase it concisely, very lyrical and beautiful writing that makes one think of human behavior.

Mulan Thesis

The film, Mulan (1998), resists the dominant narrative that women are less capable than men. Additionally, it defies the dominant narrative of what a socially acceptable woman should be like. The film does so by showcasing Mulan, the protagonist, as a hero. In 01:17:00 – 1:18:27, Mulan receives honor from the Chinese Emperor as a gratitude for saving China. He gifts her a medal of honor, Shan Yu’s sword (the enemy Mulan defeated), and offers her a position in his council. This demonstrates that the Emperor admires Mulan and how she is viewed as a savior, which defies these dominant narratives by displaying how a woman does not need to be the one being saved. She not only does not need to be saved by the men surrounding her, she saves them instead.