Hi. My name is Bill. I wasn’t always homeless, I used to own a bowling alley in Decatur. That was a long time ago. I want to write a column for The Dig about books. I want to call it “Bill’s Book Corner.”
I believe my qualifications speak for themselves. 1) Like I said, I’m homeless. That means I’m constantly reading. Novels, memoirs, bus schedules, street signs, other people’s mail — I read it all. Oftentimes you’ll find me at the Boston Public Library reading several books at once or furiously cutting up coupons and pornographic magazines. 2) I don’t have a second reason, unless you consider me being all around well-read. Because I am.
Let’s get down to business. The first book I’m going to review is probably eighty years old. That’s how I roll. I’m sick of newspapers stuffing these new books down my throat, half the time I rush out to shoplift “the next best thing” by Tao Lin or Chuck Klusterfuck or whoever and it ends up being so bad I don’t even want to wipe myself with it after squeezing one out on the Esplanade. To me, it seems like there are way more good books already written than good books about to be released next week.
For instance, Quiet Days in Clichy. What a book. This sucker is as good as it gets, and it’s real short too, for all you people “on the go.” It’s one of those books that’s actually just a long story but they released it in book form because they know how much people like to brag about reading whole books. This one’s just vintage Henry Miller. He writes about hookers he sleeps with, cafes he goes to, writers he knows, artists, Paris, the color grey.
Clichy is a lovely book, if just a tad paler than his awesome megastar Tropic of Cancer, which is a flat-out spectacular orgy of ball-busting and bareknuckled babe-bopping. Folks, Cancer is basically about fucking, being broke, running through the streets drunk, being depressed about life, being excited about life, wiping your ass with toast, more fucking, more drunkenness, and me getting attacked by alley cats whenever the street sweeper goes by.
Plus, it was banned in the U.S. for obscenity — a sure sign of good reading afoot. Funny enough, Miller wasn’t daunted at all, he just went ahead and followed it up with another whopper, Tropic of Capricorn. Give that one a shot if you like a little sleaze with your morning cup o’ Joe. Or try my unpublished classic of forensic psychology, Which One of You Bums Took a Dump On My Binoculars?
I haven’t read Capricorn yet, but my buddy Skeez says it’s a real triumph for free speech. I guess I’ll have to take his word for it, because he traded the library’s only copy to Giggly Larry for one of those big orange buckets they sell down at Home Depot. Skeez says he’ll use for his project poaching expensive balls from some golf course out in Newton, but a couple of us caught him dredging for gold with a colander in the Fens the other night and let’s just say we remain unconvinced.
Bill here, over and out.
Bill Benson is the former manager of Galaxy Bowling Lanes in Decatur, Illinois. He likes to read.