As I described that Women was about Charles Bukowski’s literary alter ego, Henry Chinaski, being old and ugly, picking up pretty young women with nice legs, holding on to them through pure talent and obstinacy, losing them, and learning from them… Dennis’ eyes lit up.
“So he’s a lot like me!” he exclaimed
I had no idea what to say to this. Had he missed the parts about talent? As I tried to formulate a response, I puffed on my cigar, inhaled, choked, and tried to conceal my disgust. I didn’t want to say that the only things that Dennis seemed to have in common with Bukowski were age, pitted skin, and a large nose, but I didn’t want to bolster his ego too much by telling him that Women was pretty much his life story.
“Well, I mean kind of?” I said, “But not really. It’s a lot different, you should read the book, you’ll see what I mean.”
“I’ll have to do that! I’ll pick it up on my way home,” said Dennis, “This Bukowski sounds like my kind of guy.”
Dennis did indeed pick up a copy of Women on his way home. He texted me excitedly a few days later to inform me that he’d finished it, was starting Ham On Rye, and couldn’t wait to talk to me about them. I had created a weird, eager monster. I’d expected him to read Women and either see and accept the differences between Henry Chinaski and himself, or decide that Charles Bukowski and his alter-ego were useless drunks with whom he wanted nothing to do.
Unfortunately when I saw him next, it was obvious that neither of these were the outcome: Dennis had obviously decided Charles Bukowski was his spirit animal.