Shadowboxing With Bukowski
A refreshingly original, deftly crafted and consistently compelling story from beginning to end, "Shadowboxing With Bukowski" clearly documents author Darrell Kastin as an exceptionally gifted novelist. While certain to be an enduringly popular addition to community library General Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Shadowboxing With Bukowski" is also available in a Kindle edition ($4.99).
~ The Midwest Book Review
Kastin returns with a novel about a West Coast bookseller. When bibliophile Nick Kastinovich gets married, his father, disappointed in his son’s life so far, lets him run the Little Big Bookstore, hoping that the small business will teach Nick a sense of responsibility. Nick settles into his new home and profession in San Pedro, home to poet Bukowski, who happens to frequent the restaurant across from the bookstore. The two build a polite familiarity, but San Pedro proves inhospitable to the book business. Try as he might, Nick can’t seem to jump-start the Little Big Bookstore, and his life begins to deteriorate as a result. He fights off creditors as he continues to buy books, and his marriage turns cold as he fantasizes about a beautiful customer named Katherine. Woven together, these threads form the novel’s central plot. Unsurprisingly, however, Bukowski is just as important as Nick. Less an active force than a constant influence, the poet, his work, and his occasional benevolence toward the bookstore prompt the protagonist’s reflections on life and literature. Bukowski is also a primary literary influence for Kastin. Presumably, Nick Kastinovich is Kastin’s version of Hank Chinaski (Bukowski’s literary alter ego), and sentences like “the bookstore, San Pedro, all was just as corrupt, all of it rotting from the inside” evoke the poet’s gritty nihilism. Sometimes, this makes Kastin’s prose feel derivative, but more often it feels like a successful homage. Indeed, much of the book honors Nick’s/Kastin’s literary heroes: Dostoyevsky, Cervantes, and most of all John Fante (particularly, Ask the Dust). READ FULL REVIEW
~ The Kirkus Review
Darrell Kastin's short, comic novel, Shadowboxing With Bukowski, is a finely written tale of a young man's misadventures in the book-selling trade and literary sub-culture of contemporary Los Angeles. The hero has a worthwhile, though romantic and ill-conceived dream--he is, after all, a lover of books and simply wants to share his love by selling good ones or, if necessary, giving them away. The narrative is self-deprecating and picaresque. Few books make me laugh out loud, but this one did.
~ Tom Jenks, editor Narrative Magazine, and novelist
I read it, and I LIKED it! Shadowboxing With Bukowski captured a moment in time that I remember very well. I think it adds another piece to the Buk legend.
~ John Martin, publisher, Black Sparrow Press.
Shadowboxing With Bukowski not only captures Bukowski's elusive (some say nonexistent) classic high grace, but offers a humorous, uncanny depiction of desperately running a bookstore while it was running itself out of success. Fun stuff fluffing up the underground heart.
~ Douglas Blazek, poet,Ventriloquy of Light & Gutting Cats in Search of Fiddles, editor of The Bukowski Sampler, publisher/editor of Open Skull Press, Olé.