Paris in the Spring

if the hydrogen bomb were hurtling toward you,
he was asked, what would you write?
nothing, he told the interviewer, would you please
order another bottle of wine?
he was an old writer from Los Angeles, hungover
again, and the publisher had pushed another
interviewer down on him.

those dinners and drinks, late into the early mornings,
had been great
but he was spoiled, the interviews discouraged him.
he figured either the books would sell on their own
or fail the same way.
he hadn’t written them for money anyhow but to keep
himself from suicide and the madhouse.
he told the interviewers this but they just went on with
other questions:
have you met Norman Mailer?
what do you think of Camus, Sartre, Celine?
why do your books sell better here than in America?
did you really work in a slaughterhouse?
do you think Hemingway was a homosexual?
do you take drugs?
do you drink when you write?
are you a misanthrope?
who is your favorite writer?

the interviewer ordered another bottle of wine.
it was 11:15 a.m. in the patio of a hotel.
there were little white tables and chairs about.
theirs were the only ones in use.
there was the interviewer, the photographer,
the writer and his wife.

have you had sex with children? the interviewer
no, answered the writer.
in one of your stories a man has sex with this very
young girl, you describe it very
graphically, the interviewer stated.
well? asked the writer.
it was as if you enjoyed it, the interviewer said.
I sometimes enjoy writing, the writer said.
you seemed to enjoy what you were describing,
said the interviewer.
I only photograph life, said the writer, I could write
about a murderer but this doesn’t mean that I am
one or would enjoy being one.

ah, here’s the wine, said the interviewer.
the waiter took out the cork, poured a bit for
the interviewer took a taste, nodded o.k. to the
and the waiter poured them

goes fast when there’s four of us, said the

do you drink because you are afraid of life?
the interviewer asked.

disgusted with life, said the writer, and with

we were up very late, said the writer’s wife, and
he’s given at least a dozen interviews over the past
3 days and he’s tired.

but I am from one of the city’s largest newspapers,
said the interviewer.

fuck you, said the writer.

what? asked the interviewer, you can’t talk to me
like that!

I am, said the writer.

all you guys think you’re God, said the

God’s dead, said the writer, remember?

the interview is over, said the interviewer.

the photographer drained his wine glass.
then he and the interviewer stood up
and walked out.

you better get yourself together, said the wife
to the writer, you’re on television

I’ll tell them to kiss my ass, said the writer.

you can’t do that, said his wife.

baby, said the writer, lifting and draining his
wine glass, watch me!

you’re just a drunk who writes, said his wife.

that might be better than a drunk who drinks,
said the writer.

his wife signed.
well, do you want to go back to the room or to a

cafe, said the writer.

they both rose and walked slowly out of the
patio, he looking through his coat for
cigarettes, she looking around behind them
as if something were following

Charles Bukowski
Original manuscript