The Charles Bukowski novel Hollywood tells the story of quite an unlikely occurrence. Charles Bukowski, who never had a high opinion of movies or Hollywood in general, finds himself right in the thick of it, writing a screenplay for a French film director.
The autobiographical account, which was Bukowski’s fifth and penultimate novel, follows the creation of what would become the film Barfly.
Barfly, which starred Mickey Rourke (he’s called Jack Bledsoe in the novel) as Bukowski alter ego Henry Chinaski, came out in 1987 and was the only screenplay Bukowski ever wrote.
Hollywood is filled with great quotes, like all of Bukowski’s novels. This list was tough to make, but after careful consideration, I present to you the top ten quotes from Hollywood.
Charles Bukowski Hollywood Quotes
“I have two rules. One is, never trust a man who smokes a pipe. The other is, never trust a man with shiny shoes.”
“The note made me feel terrible and good at the same time, which was the way I felt most of the time anyhow.”
“’It’s about a drunk. He just sits on a barstool night and day.’
‘Do you think the people would care about such a man?’
‘Listen, Jon, if I worried about what the people cared about I’d never write anything.’”
“That is the one weakness that has led me into the most trouble. Trying to be kind to others I often get my soul shredded into a kind of spiritual pasta.”
“Poor blacks hated. Poor whites hated. It was only when blacks got money and whites got money that they mixed.”
“In a capitalistic society the losers slaved for the winners and you have to have more losers than winners. What did I think? I knew politics would never solve it and there wasn’t enough time left to get lucky.”
“’That’s your answer to everything: drink.’
‘No, that’s my answer to nothing.’”
“I was a little sad that I wasn’t young and doing it all over again, drinking and fighting and playing with words. When you’re young you can really take a battering. Food didn’t matter. What mattered was drinking and sitting at the machine. I must have been crazy but there are many kinds of crazy and some are quite delightful. I starved so that I could have time to write. That just isn’t done much anymore. Looking at that table I saw myself sitting there again. I’d been crazy and I knew it and I didn’t care.”
“Kindness came finally to the better ones. There was less self-interest. Less fear. Less competitive gamesmanship.”
“The credits rolled. Then there was my name. I was a part of Hollywood, if only for a small moment. I was guilty.”
“I liked to watch the fights. Somehow it reminded me of writing. You needed the same thing, talent, guts and condition. Only the condition was mental, spiritual. You were never a writer. You had to become a writer each time you sat down to the machine. What was hard sometimes was finding that chair and sitting in it. Sometimes you couldn’t sit in it. Like everybody else in the world, for you, things got in the way: small troubles, big troubles, continues slamming and bangings. You had to be in condition to endure what was trying to kill you. That’s the message I got from watching the fights, or watching the horses run, or the way the jocks kept overcoming bad luck, spills on the track and personal little horrors off the track. I wrote about life, haha. But what really astonished me was the immense courage of some of the people living that life. That kept me going.”
Charles Bukowski Gives a Tour of Hollywood
Here’s a video of Charles Bukowski giving a tour of Hollywood to director Barbet Schroeder who directed Barfly. This video is from the documentary The Charles Bukowski Tapes, which was filmed just before the production of Barfly.