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Hard without music

· The story ·

What with alcohol, the street and women; between a world on the outskirts described in colourful language with an extraordinary skill for analysis; between an existence of exasperated excesses and the criticism of snobbish respectability; in thousands of pages, brilliant in parts and pernickety at times, women you don’t expect make their entrance: here, two women religious. In his short story Hard without music the writer Charles Bukowski – who was born in Germany, lived in California and died of acute leukaemia 20 years ago in San Pedro after a messed-up life – sketched the meeting between a man, Larry, and two sisters. Larry has put an advertisement in the newspaper to sell a gramophone and records; the religious are interested in the purchase because Sister Celia wants to use them in her lessons with the older girls, “it is so hard… without music”. Described through the eyes of the man – who has to drink a glass of water and nervously puff on a cigarette before entering the room where the two women are waiting for him – it is the meeting between two distant worlds that take stock of each other somewhat warily (“was what Paul said true? That they shave their heads?”), they attempt to say something to each other and conclude the business. No one is really at ease. And Larry, least of all. (@GiuliGaleotti)

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St. Peter’s Square

Nov. 12, 2019

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