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Charles Bukowski Remembers Jon Webb in Special Wormwood Review Issue

Charles Bukowski Remembers Jon Webb in Special Wormwood Review Issue

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This is a special Jon Webb issue that Marvin Malone issued as Wormwood Review #45 in memory of the LouJon publisher who had recently passed away.

The entire issue is dedicated to Webb and (according to Malone) “was conceived as a series of comments from three generations”. For this purpose, he chose Henry Miller, Charles Bukowski, and Marcus Grapes.

First up was Henery Miller, for whom LouJon Press had published two beautiful books that won multiple awards for their outstanding craftmanship. The Webb’s put in as many hours and sweat into the books as they had with Bukowski’s, and they are by far the finest Henry Miller books ever published.

Miller’s “comments” show what a self-centered jerk he could be:

“Dear Mr. Malone –

I’m afraid I’m of no use to you. I never met Jon Webb and our correspondence was limited to discussion of the 2 books he printed. Besides, I’m over my head in work – an am sick of work. Want only to write what I want to write for my own pleasure.

Henry Miller


According to Google Translate, the final sentence is Portuguese for: “When shit is poor, he is born without an ass.”

Next up was Bukowski, who comes across as somewhat pensive. If Bukowski had been asked to write his “comments” in 1966 or 1967, I think they would have been much different. But during the last 5 years of Webb’s life, Bukowski’s relationship with Jon had soured, with both men contributing in passive-aggressive ways.

From the first sentence on, Bukowski seems to be holding back what he really feels and instead provides professional, positive overviews of the Outsider and his two LouJon books. He emphasizes the sacrifices Lou and Jon made and his appreciation for what they did.

He does take a minor stab at Jon for consistently trying to get under his skin, but other than that, no other personal issues are mentioned. It’s really more about what Bukowski didn’t say and he seems to acknowledge that near the end of his comments:

“I wish now that I had told some of the funnier stories about Jon and Louise and myself, but I’ve written to long now.

If Bukowski holds back his true emotions, Marcus Grapes certainly does not. He begins:

“this is the letter I owe you. Then we’re even.”

Grapes was a young man when he first met the Webbs, having recently graduated from Tulane. The Webbs took him into their lives and their circle of friends, opening a new world to him. I think it’s fair to say he viewed Jon as a father figure, especially when it came to his growing desire to become a writer and poet himself. But Jon took on the role of a more stern father that was perhaps out of concern about Grapes’ prospects of succeeding or living the life of a starving artist.

Eventually, Jon told Grapes to confide and seek guidance from Bukowski, which he did. The two had already met in New Orleans in 1965. He and Bukowski were the only ones allowed in the Webb’s home while they were working furiously to complete CRUCIFIX IN A DEATHHAND. Their correspondence went on for over 30 years.

Grapes’ comments are a mixture of love and hate, raw emotions that mainly sound like anger, but you can tell there is love within the words. His “comments” are by far the most compelling of the three.

The final section is a 13-page short story by Jon Webb titled “All Prickles – No Petals.” It first appeared in A NEW DAY, a prison magazine.

Marvin Malone produced a higher-than-normal run of this Wormwood Review issue at 800 copies. This is hand-numbered copy #304 and is in Near Fine condition, with a small amount of toning to the edge of the spine on the front cover.

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