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Wednesday
January 22, 2003

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a pleasant surprise came
in the mail yesterday--
pleasant until i opened it.
a new bukowski book.
he's been dead since
     March 9, 1994
but they release
a new batch of poems
once a year, culled
by john martin
from the boxes
of unpublished
pages he left behind,
copyright linda lee,
Buk's legacy to her.
and you. and me.

i got this one
with a gift certificate
at amazon.com and
suspected something
was wrong when i
ordered it--Ecco Press?
what is that? and why
a hardcover when up
until now it's been Black
Sparrow
trade paperbacks?

i open the box and it looks
bad--the cover is shiny,
and though the design
is by Barbara Martin, the
spine is crimped and the
back has a lot of crap
printed on it: ecco
An Imprint of Harper
Collins Publishers
www.harpercollins.com

and a bar code
ISBN 0-06-052735-8
9||780060||527358 52750>
USA $27.50 / CANADA $42.95

and of course
it's a hardcover
only so they can
charge more
of those who
can't help
but buy it.

but the book
as object
is lacking, meant
maybe for a library,
it reminds me of
those stately but empty
Reader's Digest con-
densed anthologies
from the 1960s that
filled the bookshelves
of my assimilated Czech-
American grandparents
who subscribed to
book of the month club
culture to gain instant
admittance. what i'm
saying is it looks like shit.

the words are all there
and as i read i can
forget the feel of it
in my hands but it
lacks the perfection
of the Black Sparrow
editions--their textured
covers, the lack of any
hint of an outside world,
books that were about
nothing but themselves--
and it's never quite
going to sit right on
my bedroom shelf,
is not built to slide
into a jacket pocket,
won't curve to fit.
it's got the inflexible feel
and unforgiving edges
of a high school math text.

so why this lament?
"don't judge a book
by its cover." you can
blow that out your ass.
it's sad to see something
that wasn't broken
get fixed, and if this
were that day in 1998
when i drifted into the
bookstore at columbus
and 66th on my lunchbreak
trying to keep from going
insane i'm not sure i would
have reached for something
that looked like this, would
probably not have walked
out with 2 books by Buk-
owski, and almost cer-
tainly it would not have
come to this, whatever
this is--call it an imitation,
my best Buk impression.

but that's better
than sounding like a
newscaster or college
professor. we all become
the things we absorb, so
it's best to choose carefully
our influences, covers and all.
read reviews, buy at amazon.com
is it? find out for yrself
closed sundays. just kidding.
one of his best
i hope to be writing when i am 70...
learn more, maybe buy
read shit people say at amazon
my first bukowski -- it worked for me
i have seen horses running from a train and it is beautiful
my own review of HAM ON RYE
see you tomorrow?
poo too weet
piano = typewriter, or so i have heard...
i wrote my own damn review
that's right. read all about it.
i wrote a review with accounting by sarah kavage

we don't write to be judged,
we write to get it out of us so
we don't do something worse.

-Charles Bukowski