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Josh Bass's picture

Lost Passage

By Josh Bass in Arrest Us

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I seem to have found a lost short story starring Bukowski's hero, Hank Chinaski.  It might even be a missing chapter from Factotum.  It takes place during that period of time.  The interesting thing is that he describes an encounter with what sounds like one of my favorite crime writers from Philadelphia.  It makes you wonder if their paths really did cross.


Jonathan Riley's picture
Jonathan Riley from Memphis, Tennessee is reading Flashover by Gordon Highland June 3, 2014 - 2:53pm


I've read a little Bukowski but have not heard of or read Chinaski, and am also unfamiliar with whoever Dave is supposed to be. Your favorite crime writer from Philadelphia? Perhaps the story will resonate even more with those who are familiar with the history of the characters. That said, when I read it unaware that your characters represented real people and just thought they were fictional I still found it quite entertaining so Kudos. Also, your story has more of a message and addresses themes more than the other stories I've read so far and that was kind of your point. It's more than just "bad pulp" so to speak so great job there too. Overall I enjoyed it. Quick read with well thoughtout characters. 

There were grammar problems however, I would have done an lbl except I read this on my nook. Message me later and I can do a quick sweep for you if you'd like but there were several spots where you accidently typed the same word back to back. Easy fix. Also, you wrote "were" instead of "where" 

Another thing is in the dialouge. A lot of it came of robotic. Most of us use contractions when we speak. Over and over you have lines like 

I don't know what you are talking about. 

As opposed to "I don't know what you're talking about. 

Both of your main characters spoke like this a lot. It was not unique to just one. And when reading it outloud it sounded like foreigner or machine speak. So yeah clean that up a bit. It's okay to do it every once in a while especially when you are empasizing the verb like when you said

Well she is married. 

Works fine there, instead of "Well, she's married."


Anyway, this could be a real gem after a couple more onceovers. Good luck!


Grant Williams's picture
Grant Williams from Wichita, KS is reading Friday June 4, 2014 - 10:12am

Quite enjoyable.  I enjoy stories about chance and momentary encounters where a person is so polarizing that their singular interaction has a permanent effect on a character.  The reader longs for more of them, just as the main character does (whether they admit it or not).  These things happen in life but are difficult to capture on paper.  Well done.

Adam Jenkins's picture
Adam Jenkins from Bracknell, England is reading RCX Magazine (Issue 1 coming soon) June 6, 2014 - 7:56am

This is a tough one to comment on in a way. I’ve not read any Bukowski, so I don’t know if you have done the character justice at all, and I’ve no idea who David is meant to be either.

Taking those elements out of it, there’s a lot to like here. Chinaski is compelling, even if we don’t know quite why he sticks around David through the crazy evening. David himself is fun, a little chaos thrown into the story. Both are entertaining and keep the attention. It all flows pretty well too, and that always makes for a more enjoyable reading experience. I did especially like the image of the two of them driving with the gas masks on.

I do feel it’s lacking a defined story arc. It is character driven, which isn’t a bad thing, but I do like to see more of plot. That’s down to personal opinion of course, but I think giving it an overreaching character arc would have improved it. I don’t know if that would affect the homage to Bukowski however. I can’t shake the feeling that I’m missing the references here.

The dialogue did feel a little out here too. I know Jonathan has touched on it, and I would reiterate that it does sometimes come across a little mechanical. I couldn’t quite grasp why, but his mention of contractions does make perfect sense.

So overall you have good characters, but I would say the dialogue and plot need a little work. Worth sticking with it though.

Hooper Triplett's picture
Hooper Triplett from Tucson, AZ is reading Fever Pitch June 6, 2014 - 7:53pm

I too had difficulty getting a good sense of the characters.  Perhaps it was because of the stilted dialogue, but I also couldn't get over the sense that I was missing key information.  If the plot was hyperkinectic, the characterization wouldn't be so essential, but the plot and overall story arc is muddled.

Needs a tight proofread to clean up the grammar/language goofs.

Seb's picture
Seb from Thanet, Kent, UK June 17, 2014 - 3:05pm

Nice idea, the two writers meeting and incorporating each other's ideas and lives into their writing. I agree with the points made in the comments above, and would simply add that you need to show us more and tell us less. For example:

​He proceeded to tell me about his less than three year marriage to his former wife.  She was and from what I can tell, still is everything he could want in a woman.  Legs, ass, breasts, and long red hair.  She oozed of sex.  Watching him describe her he seemed to turn into another person. A person in love yes but maybe also an addict.  His language changed too.  He used more poetic language.

Show, don't tell. I wanted to read that speech more than your description of the speech. Overall though, with some work, this could be good. The noir aspect was subtle but noticeable enough to set a good tone to the story, and the random name-dropping of drinks or cigarette brands reminded me of Fleming. Keep at it.

Cmangano's picture
Cmangano from Maine July 27, 2014 - 3:39pm

I greatly appreciate the idea that you had here, but not a lot of action occurs. I don't think there's anything in this that would classify it as a crime story. As others have said you keep things a little vague for anyone who doesn't know Bukowski or at the very least has seen Barfly. I would suggest that if you want to write an extended story of Chinaski, you have it stand alone as something separate from its history so as not to alienate any readers. There are a lot of grammatical errors that distracted me from the reading. Overall I'd like to see more done with this idea.