Monday, September 19, 2016

Review: Shadowboxing with Bukowski by Darrell Kastin

Shadowboxing with Bukowski (a memoir disguised as fiction, or a fictionalized memoir) is the tragicomic, cautionary tale of a young bookseller who struggles to keep his bookstore afloat in the harbor town of San Pedro, CA, where the infamous Charles Bukowski resides. Pushed to the edge by events beyond his control: his flailing marriage, the curmudgeonly ghost of the former owner, and the community that sees him as an outsider, the intrepid book lover fights the noble battle against mediocrity and apathy while in a moment of desperation his wife enlists Bukowski’s aid.

The full title which was later shorted was: Shadowboxing With Bukowski, or Memoir of a Severed Head.

Rating: 1 Star

I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I love to read books about books. Books about libraries, bookstores, bookworks, I'm game. It's fun to see a novel centered around something I'm passionate about (the written word). Generally speaking, reading those books puts me into those settings when otherwise I can't be. If I'm stuck at home at least I can imagine myself surrounded by books, talking about those stories with other people in person, which can sometimes be overwhelming but can also be a lot of fun.

Shadowboxing with Bukowski started out as one of those types of books. The narrator felt like he could be a fellow book loving soul who I as a reader would be able to join on his journey of trying to save his dying bookshop. However, as the book progressed, I found myself disliking him more and more because his voice became more pretentious the further you read. He might have said things to the contrary, but every sentence was loaded with self importance and I couldn't stand it for stretches at a time.

The plot moves slowly enough, which I normally don't mind because that's generally what this sort of book is like. I could have forgiven it once more, but not with a narrator that sounds like he would rather be doing anything else than trying to save his store. I couldn't even finish the book, to be honest, his voice was that grating.

If you think you might like to check out book about book collectors or people who work in bookshops, I'd recommend Used and Rare: Travels in the Book World by Lawrence and Nancy Goldstone or Shelf Life: Romance, Mystery, Drama, and Other Page-Turning Adventures From a Year in a Bookstore by Suzanne Strempek Shea.

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