Saturday, May 28, 2022

My Niece Commits Suicide

My niece Shannon lies comatose in a hospital bed tonight.  Today is her birthday, the last one of her life.  Tomorrow they will cease life support and turn off the machines that keep her heart beating and her lungs respirating.  Less than a week ago she went into the garage of her home in Santa Clara, California, stepped up on a sofa there, wrapped a curtain drawstring around her neck and stepped off.

Minutes later, her husband Dan and eldest daughter found her hanging in the garage.  They quickly cut her down and applied CPR, as did the medical alert team that quickly arrived.  She was taken to the hospital where she was put on life support and tested for vital signs.  After two days the doctors could find no sign of brain activity; she was in a vegetative state.  

Shannon had been experiencing Covid 19 symptoms for several weeks, which started after she was vaccinated against the disease.  She was told by her employers at San Jose State that she could not resume her teaching position until she got the booster shot.  She got it and the symptoms worsened.  She was in constant pain and suffering from anxiety, but her doctors said she wasn’t dying and death was not expected.  

What drove her to commit such a terrible act?  Did the vaccine cause insanity?  I am no doctor and can only speculate.  She leaves behind a husband, a son and two daughters, the youngest of whom will graduate from high school on June 1.  

Shannon is 53 years old today, forever 53.

Update:  She passed away peacefully at 12:13 Pacific time today, Sunday, May 29, 2022.

Monday, May 02, 2022

Reading Charles Bukowski

Lately there has been a few YouTube documentaries on the life and career of author Charles Bukowski.  I found him intriguing so ordered three books of his works.

The first was “Post Office,” his first successful publication.  The common advice to young authors is “write what you know.”  Bukowski worked for the Post Office as both a mailman delivering mail and later as a clerk sorting mail in the office.  His character Chinowski reprises that role in this seemingly autobiographical novel.  The writing is entertaining but there is no plot per se, no denouement, no epiphany.  The same is somewhat true for his novel “Pulp.”  However, the latter shows some interesting flights of fancy.  

In “Pulp" Bukowski is a private detective (named Nick) in Los Angeles.  One of his clients is a beautiful woman called “Lady Death.”  She is the feminine version of the Grim Reaper.  She wants Nick to track down a man named Celine, who in previous decades was a buddy of Ernest Hemingway and his literary entourage in Paris. Everyone of the members of the group have long since died except for Celine, who has fled and hid and escaped death.   

Another client claims he is being harassed by an alien from outer space, and it turns out to be true.  

My biggest gripe about “Pulp” is its ending.  It appears to be a rushed and arbitrary ending just to finish the book and get on to other things.

The third book I bought is a collection of Bukowski’s short stories.  Some are pretty good, like “The Most Beautiful Woman In Town.” Others are crude and pointless, like “The Gut-Wringing Machine.”

If you like a gritty protagonist, a hard drinking, rough looking, cigar smoking and anti-social hero who gets into lots of fights but occasionally gets laid, you’ll like these figments of Bukowski’s imagination.  I do so I’ll keep reading.

Charles Bukowski
1920 - 1994