I caught Factotum this weekend (thanks Netflix) not expecting a whole lot. I’m a Bukowski fan, and I would think it is hard to enjoy his stories translated to the screen. To me, it isn’t the subject matter; that is secondary. I enjoy Bukowski for his minimalist writing.
However, I enjoyed the movie to its smokey fullest. Matt Dillon did a very good job capturing the character of Chinaski (Bukowski’s fictional alter ego), and while the the plot wasn’t exactly like the book, I enjoyed it a great deal. The payoff was the end for me, Chinaski sitting in an empty strip club, broke and philosophizing over narration:
If you’re going to try, go all the way. Otherwise don’t even start. This could mean losing girlfriends, wives, relatives, jobs. And maybe your mind. It could mean not eating for three or four days. It could mean freezing on a park bench. It could mean jail. It could mean derision. It could mean mockery, isolation. Isolation is the gift. All the others are a test of your endurance. Of how much you really want to do it. And you’ll do it, despite rejection in the worst odds. And it will be better than anything else you can imagine. If you’re going to try, go all the way. There is no other feeling like that. You will be alone with the gods. And the nights will flame with fire. You will ride life straight to perfect laughter. It’s the only good fight there is.
It’s part of why I like reading Bukowski so much, because I feel all of those things at times. I draw comics, one of the loneliest and least respected jobs on the planet. No one cares about you or your work really. It gets harder to get published every year. Names come and go, books get scheduled and cancelled the same week. Some webcomic kid makes a living on his merchandise but can’t draw for shit, and his fans love him for his terrible skills. I’m not sure why I do it. I know I might have a more well-rounded life by not doing it. Yet, I keep plugging away at something that not many understand, and so do a throng of others: working for a dream that doesn’t want us.
Reading Bukowski at age 18 made me want to be a writer maybe, or at least fantasize about it. Part of me wonders what it would be like if I self-published serial fiction online, fiction about working in comics, about stories I’ve heard and witnessed, the pure joy and tragedy of the thing. If I used a Chinaski of myself, me but not me.
That might be something…
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