6 Things I Learned from Charles Bukowski

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Bukowski was disgusting, his actual real fiction is awful, he’s been called a misogynist, overly simplistic, the worst narcissist, (and probably all of the above are true to an extent) and whenever there’s a collection of “Greatest American Writers” he’s never included.

And yet… he’s probably the greatest American writer ever. Whether you’ve read him or not, and most have not, there’s 6 things worthy of learning from an artist like Bukoswski.

 

I consider “Ham on Rye” by Bukowski probably the greatest American novel ever written.  It’s an autobiographical novel (as are all his novels except “Pulp” which is so awful it’s unreadable) about his childhood, being beaten by his parents, avoiding war, and beginning his life of destitution, hardship, alcoholism, and the beginnings of his education as a writer.

I’m almost embarrassed to admit he’s an influence. Many people hate him and I’m much more afraid of being judged than he ever was.

1)      Honesty. His first four novels are extremely autobiographical. He details the suffering he had as a child (putting his parents in a very bad light but he didn’t care), he details his experiences with prostitutes, his lack of interest in holding down a job, his horrible experiences and lack of real respect for the women he was in relationships with, and on and on.  His fiction and poetry document thoroughly the people he hates, the authors he despises, the establishment he could care less about (and he hated the anti-establishment just as much. One quote about a potential plan the hippie movement was going to do: “Run a pig for president? What the fuck is that? It excited them. It bored me.”)

 

(my favorite comic book artist, R. Crumb, often illustrated Bukowski's poems and stories)

Most fiction writers do what fiction writers do: they make stuff up. They tell stories that come from their imagination. Bukowski wasn’t really able to do that. Whenever he attempted fiction (his last novel being a great example) it fell flat. Even his poetry is non-fiction.

There’s one story he wrote (I forget the name) where he’s sitting in a bar and he wants to be alone and some random guy starts talking to him: “its horrible about all those girls who were burned” and Bukowski says (I’m getting the words a little off. Doing this from memory), “I don’t know.” And the guy and everyone else in the bar starts yelling, “This guy doesn’t care that all those little girls burned to death”. But Bukowski was honest, “It was a newspaper headline. If it happened in front of me I’d probably feel different about it.” And he refused to back down and stayed in the bar until closing time.

 

(Matt Dillon playing a young Bukowski in "Factotum")

He had very few boundaries as to how far his honesty could go. He never wrote about his daughter after she reached a certain age. That’s about the only boundary I can find. Every other writer has so many things they can’t write about: family, spouses, exes, children, jobs, bosses, colleagues, friends. That’s why they make stuff up. Bukowski didn’t let himself get hampered by that so we see real raw honest, a real anthropological survey of being down and out for 60+ years without anything being held back. No other writer before or since has done that. For a particular example, see his novel, “Women” which detailed every sexual nuance of every woman who dared to sleep with him after he achieved some success. Most of these women were horrified after the book came out.

I try as hard as possible to remove all boundaries. But it’s a challenge with each post I do.

2)      Persistence. Bukowski got two stories published when he was young (24 and 26 years old) but almost all of his stories were rejected by publishers. So he quit writing for ten years. Then, in the mid 1950s he started up again. He submitted tons of poems and stories everywhere he could. It took him years to get published. It took him even more years to get really noticed. And it finally took him about 15 years of writing every day and writing thousands of poems and stories before he finally started making a living as a writer. He wrote his first novel at the age of 49 and it was financially successful. After 25 years of plugging away at it he was finally a successful writer.

25 years!

Most people give up much earlier, much younger. Both my grandfather and father wanted to be musicians, for instance. Both gave up in their 20s and 30s and took what they thought was the safer route. (The safer route being, in my opinion, what ultimately killed both of them).

And this persistence was while he was going through three marriages, dozens of jobs, and non-stop alcoholism. Some of this is documented (poorly) in the move “Barfly” but I think a better movie about Bukowski is the indie that Matt Dillon did about his novel, “Factotum” which details the 10 years he was going from job to job, woman to woman, just trying to survive as an alcoholic in a world that kept beating him down.

He wrote his first novel in 19 days. Michael Hemmingson who I write about below, wrote me and said Bukowski had to finish that novel so fast because he was desperately afraid he was going to be a failure at being a successful writer and didn’t want to disappoint John Martin, who had essentially given him an advance for the novel.

 

(a tattoo of the epitaph on Bukowski's tombstone)

3)      Survival. When I think “constant alcoholic” I usually equate that with being a homeless bum. Bukowski, at some deep level, realized that he needed to survive. He couldn’t just be a homeless bum and kill himself, no matter how many disappointments he had. He worked countless factory jobs (the basis of the non-fiction novel, “Factotun”) but even that wasn’t stable enough for him. Finally, he took a job working for the US Government (you can’t get more stable) working in the post office for 11 years. He didn’t miss child support payments (although he constantly wrote about how ugly the mother of his child was), and as far as I know he was never homeless or totally down and out from his early 30s ’til the time he started having success as a writer.

And despite writing about the overwhelming poverty he had, he did have a small inheritance from his father, a savings account he built up, and a steady paycheck. The post office job is documented, in full, in his first “novel”  called, appropriately, “Post Office”. Many people think that’s his best novel but I put it third or fourth behind “Ham on Rye” and “Factotum” and possibly “Women”.  He also wrote a novel, “Hollywood” about the blow-by-blow experience of doing the movie “Barfly”. All the names are changed (hence its claim to be fiction) but once you figure out who everyone is, its totally non-fiction. Like all of his other novels (not counting “Pulp”, which was the worst American novel ever written and published).

[See, 33 Unusual Ways to Be a Better Writer – many tips I got from reading his books.]

4)      Discipline. Imagine working a brutal 10 hour shift at the Post Office, coming home and arguing with your wife or girlfriend, or half-girlfriend, half-prostitute that was living with you, finishing off three or four six-packs of beer and then…writing. He did it every day. Most people want to write that novel, or finish that painting, or start that business, but have zero discipline to actually sit down and do it. If there was any talent that Bukowski had that I can’t actually figure out how he got it, its that discipline.

When he was younger (early 20s, late teens) he spent almost every day in the library, falling in love with all the great writers. The love must have been so great it superseded almost everything else in his life. He had to write like them or he really felt like he would die. He had to “put down a good line” as he would say. And every day he would try. And good, bad, or ugly, he probably ultimately ended up publishing (many posthumously) everything he ever wrote. I try to match that discipline. Even when I don’t post a blog post I write seven days a week, every morning. At least 1000 words and a completed post. I used to do this in my 20s when I was trying to write fiction. My minimum then was 3000 words. I did that for five years.

It adds up. The average book is 60,000 words. If you can write 1000 words a day then you’ll have 6 books by the end of the year. Because poetry books are much smaller, Bukowski probably had around 80 or so books published by the time he was dead and I bet there are more coming.

(his first novel at age 49. You're never too old).

5)      His “literary map”. He was inspired by several writers and he inspired many more. Some of my favorite writers come from both categories. He was probably most inspired by three writers: Celine, Knut Hamsun, and John Fante. I highly recommend Celine’s “Journey to the End of the Night”.  Celine is almost a more raw version of Bukowski. He was constantly angry and trying to survive and do whatever it took to survive. The thing about Bukowski, as opposed to many other writers, is he didn’t concern himself with flowery images or beautiful sunsets. He totally wrote as if he were speaking to you and Celine does that to an extreme but he’s so raw and smart that the way he “speaks” is like an insane person trying to spew out as much venom as possible. 600 pages later his first book is a masterpiece and I often use it in my pre-writing hour every morning when I read stuff to inspire myself to write.

John Fante wrote the underappreciated “Ask the Dust” which was completely forgotten until Bukowski’s publisher republished it and all of Fante’s books. (I also recommend the movie  with Colin Farrell and a naked Salma Hayek).

 

(maybe Hayek's best role)

Bukowski was almost afraid to admit how much Fante directly influenced him. He wrote in one “short story”, “I realized that admitting John Bante had been such a great influence on my writing might detract from my own work, as if part of me was a carbon copy, but I didn’t give a damn. It’s when you hide things that you choke on them.”

Note he spelled “Fante” as “Bante”. That’s the extent of Bukowski’s fiction. Another interesting thing is the last line. Nothing flowery, nothing descriptively beautiful, yet a line like that is what made Bukowski unique and one of the best writers ever, getting at the hidden truth of what was really happening in his head, rather than telling yet another boring story filled with flowery descriptions like most books and stories are.

Then there’s the authors Bukowski influenced. Michael Hemmingson wrote an excellent review of Bukowski in the book “The Dirty Realism Duo: Bukowski and Carver” which I highly recommend. Raymond Carver comes from the same genre of down-and-out, oppressive relationships that were beyond his ability to cope with them, and realist, simple writing that was mostly autobiographical (although that’s a little less clear in Carver’s case). I’d also throw Denis Johnson’s book of short stories (Jesus’ Son) in that category (Johnson studied with Carver) and more recently, books like the above-mentioned Michael Hemmingson’s  “Crack Hotel”, “The Comfort of Women”,  “My Date(Rape) with Kathy Acker” and other stories.  I’m dying to find other writers in this category.

 

(I haven't seen the movie. Is it good?)

I read how Denis Johnson needed $10,000 to pay the IRS. So he threw together some vignettes he had forgotten about, called the collection “Jesus’ Son” and sent it off to Jonathan Galassi and said, “here, you can have these if you pay the IRS”. So I Facebook-friended Galassi and asked him if he could tell me one author in Denis Johnson’s league but I’m still waiting for a response.

I wish I could find more writers like these. Perhaps William Vollmann who wrote “Butterfly Stories” but his bigger fiction is too difficult for me to read (anecdote: he wrote the afterward to the recently re-published Celine’s “Journey of the Night” so all of these writers tend to recognize their common lineage.)

6)      Poetry. I really hate poetry. When I open up the New Yorker (blecch!) and read the latest poems in there I can’t understand them, they all seem like gibberish to me, they all seem too intellectual. And yet, out of all the poets I’ve read, the only ones I really like are: Bukowski, Raymond Carver, and Denis Johnson. Poetry allowed them to master making each word in a sentence effective and powerful. It was this training that allowed them to destroy the competition when they sat down to write their longer pieces. It makes me want to try my hand at poetry but even the word “poetry” sounds so pseudo-intellectual I just have no interest in doing it.

Bukowski: Alcoholic, postal worker, misogynist (there’s a video you can easily find on Youtube where he must be almost 60 and he literally kicks his wife in anger while he’s being interviewed.), anti-war, anti-peace, anti-everything, hated everyone, probably insecure, extremely honest, and he had to write every day or it would kill him.

In his own words, words which I hope to live by: “What a joy it must be to be a truly great writer, even if it means a shotgun at the finish”.

————————

Suggested Reading:

 

Biographical:

–          Michael Hemmingson:  The Dirty Realism Due: Charles Bukowski  and Raymond Carver

–          Howard Sounes: “Charles Bukowski: Locked in the Arms of a Crazy Life

Bukowski’s Writings (that I recommend):

  • –          “Ham On Rye”
  • –          “Factotum”
  • –          “Women”
  • –          “Post Office”
  • –          “Hollywood”
  • –          “Portions from  a Wine-Stained Notebook”
  • –          “Absence of the Hero”
  • –          “The Last Night on theEarth”(poems)
  • (I don’t recommend “Pulp” – don’t read it).

Other fiction in the “Dirty Realism”category:  

  • –          Celine, “Journey to the End of theNight”
  • –          Fante, “Ask the Dust”
  • –          Raymond Carver, “Cathedral”
  • –          Denis Johnson, “Jesus’ Son”
  • –          William Vollmann,  “Butterfly Stories”
  • –          Michael Hemmingson, “This  Other Eden”
  • –          Junot Diaz, “Drown”
  • –          Jerzy Kosinski, “Steps”

Poem:

“You Don’t know What Love Is (an evening with Bukowski)” by Raymond Carver.

Article: John Fante, father of LA Literature:

Movies:

“Factotum”

If anyone  can think  of  anybody else in this specific “dirty realism” category, please put it in the comments. I’d also like to read women in this category but I think it’s a particularly male category. Jack Kerouac falls somewhere in there but he’s more “beat” which I think is different. And Chad Kultgen’s recent books (“The Average American Male”, for instance) are also somewhat in the realism category but not quite “dirty” enough.

 

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  • Anonymous

    How strange, that’s the fifth or sixth reference to Murakami I’ve seen this week, 1q84 is published later this month, I guess it could be that…

    Tobias Wolff, and for a women writer, Bobbie Anne Mason, not sure if you’d agree but Jim Thompson perhaps..

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      Wolff and Carver worked together and I like Wolff’s stuff but never blown away. I’ve seen Jim thompson’s stuff but never read it. I will. Bobbie Anne Mason I like but could never relate to in the way I relate to Bukowski.

      • Anonymous

        I think the alcoholism made me think of Thompson…

        I guess you could include Cormac McCarthy

        Oh and I think this thread is going to increase my ‘to read’ pile!

        • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

          Loved “Fear& loathing on the campaign train in ’72” but not so much his las vegas one. I also enjoy his collections of articles. I think (like Bukowski) he has the  sort of style that many people think is easy to emulate but (like Bukowski) he was incredibly educated about writing and the craft and he is really impossible to emulate although many crudely try.

          I haven’t been able to get thru to McCarthy. His background somehow is more distant from me than Bukowski’s is.

          • Anonymous

            How bout Hubert Selby Jr, and Philip Roth, they must have more resonance?

            Which also would bring up in my mind Jim Carroll, and strangely William S Burroughs and JG Ballard

          • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

            Loved Selby’s “last exit to brooklyn”. Roth I think is aiming too much for a Nobel prize so gears his writing that  way.

  • http://www.facebook.com/joehenriod Joe Henriod

    James, how do you get inspired to write after reading the masters?   When I read Bukowski I get intimidated by it and am embarrassed by my attempts.

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      I know what you mean Joe. But put it the other way, its better than reading bad writing and then starting to write.

      When I play chess I go through games played by grandmasters first, not little kids.

  • Mark

    James, You don’t mention it in your piece, but if you haven’t seen “Barfly” you’ve got to see it immediately. It’s with Mickey Rourke (as Bukowski) and Faye Dunaway.

    I was working at Cannon Pictures when they made this film, directed by Barbet Schroeder. The story was that Cannon was always short on cash, and at one point, after preproduction had already started on Barfly, Menachem Golan and Yorum Globus decided they had to pull the plug on the picture. Schroeder was devastated, and went to talk to Golan about it. He had a hypodermic and a knife (although some said it was a small electric chainsaw) with him. He was going to inject painkiller into his finger and cut it off if they didn’t let him finish the movie. They re-greenlighted the movie.

    Bukowski himself is in the movie briefly; he is sitting at the bar.

    • Mark

      I just re-read the article. Don’t know why I didn’t see your mention of Barfly. I read too fast sometimes.

      • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

        Mark, on your rec- I’m going to see it. Have you read the novel “Hollywood” that Bukowski wrote about the movie? Great novel. And he describes that scene you describe with Barbet. have you seen Factotum (with dillon?)

        • Anonymous

          See “Barfly.” Then see Rourke in “The Expendables.”

        • Mark

          James, I have seen Factotum, and although it was good it was way too dry and unemotional to me for being about a man who showed raw emotion in everything he did.

          There are a couple of good documentaries with Bukowski himself being himself. One is by Taylor Hackford but I can’t remember the name, (it’s about 40 years ago), the other is called Born Into This. Both offer insight into what it means to have a burning hunger to get whatever truth it is inside you out to the world. The poet’s job.

  • http://www.adanlerma.com adan

    geez this brought back memories, i “discovered” bukowski in the early 80’s when i did art/poetry recreation with patients in a closed adult psych unit – he was the one guy both the staff and the patients could agree on ;-)

    your review/lessons-learned james, reads fittingly, nice job

    though i tend to agree about this style work leaning more toward us guys, i think if one pairs the commonality of brutal honesty, as applied to one’s life, it’s hard for me not to think of sylvia plath – 

    i don’t know her work extensively, only in passing, but if i’m looking for a similarity of feeling-response within myself, aligned with that of bukowski, it’d be her :

    a cold shockingness of fear / vulnerablity / with a tiny hoping-to-hide gasping for air / met head on

    thanks much james

  • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

    I loveall the books (except Pulp). Ham on Rye, though, is enough to make one cry. And Factotum very good aswell. And Women.

  • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

    Yes I was! You shou’ve said “hi”!

    • ActionJackson

      Oh man I knew it was you!  I was totally going to say something but you seemed to be having a very animated discussion … anyways, love the blog and will be buying the new book shortly … 

  • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

    You’re right. I should’ve included Henry Miller and also one emailer reminded me of one my favorite short story writers: Mary Gaitskill and her collection, “Bad behavior”. I’ll check out Ben Hamper. I hope he’s on kindle so I can read him tonight.

  • http://www.goldenstateliberty.com GSL

    Agreed that Factotum is awesome. Not as big a fan of Bukowski’s work; Henry Miller is really the go-to source for honest writing about struggle and persistence. Tropic of Cancer, Sexus, Time of the Assassins, Stand Still Like the Hummingbird, and Hieronymous Bosch and the Oranges of Big Sur.

    • Ian

      Henry Miller is a pompous writer in love with the epic, pretentious asshole, also he is dead. Completely unreadable, caused yawns of suicidal proportions across the libraries of the world by young minds trying to find fun and excitement, responsible with other pompous pretentious asshole writers for the death of reading. Just awful. Hey let us read Miller instead of doing let me think of, hmmm, actually everything sounds more fun than reading bullshit.

      Simple question. When you read him. Can you honestly say to yourself that you feel real life from his words, that you can relate, or are you afraid of being ridiculed by the norm? Miller is for the become dentist, lawyer type of guys. For the might have made it but they are not so smart actually or strong, albeit they fix your teeth, they handle your divorce and they are educated, they have even documented proof to show the world. They are the people who lived next door and your idiot mother wanted for you to be just like them, so security road can kill you in the end. See, your mother wanted you to die in a horrible way. Eventually they took the road more traveled, the easier one. They are the crab that pulls down other crabs in the attempt to flee so they can become lobsters. Even lobsters get eaten. But they do not go down without a fight. Crabs are like crap, but with a p. Get it? Not likely. But hey, intellectuals dig him. Those crazy party going, life smelling, women fucking, universe travelers labeled him and granted entrance to the Kingdom of the Norm, the Kingdom of Universal Intellect. Rejoice, you are one of them. Not quite, you cannot even hang out with them. But you are a acolyte. You are assisting them to spread their bullshit and infect young minds so they would get bored with reading and continue refreshing their instagram feed. This doesn’t even mean shit. It is a comment on a 3 year old post. In the end, Life, the great equalizer will deal with Miller, this comment, you and me, even James in the same fashion. All forgotten, Miller for the better, some of us for the worst.

  • http://736hundred.tumblr.com/ 736hundred

    Maybe a person has to be drunk to not give a sh*t about what they write, or who the hurt, or what boundaries they break or how much it hurt themselves. I don’t know.
    ______
    November is National Novel Writing month: http://www.nanowrimo.org/

    Take the challenge.  I can hardly believe I signed up for it.

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      Bukowski claikmed he  couldn’t write unless he was drunk but I really don’t believe it. And I also think later in his life, when he was still writing some good stuff, he wasn’t as much of an alcoholic and was more health conscious.

  • Anonymous

    Try Marilyn Manson’s book. I haven’t read it yet but he’s twisted and was gifted until he met the usual rock and roll star fate of too much fame + drugs. First three albums are worth checking out too.

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      Ok, I will. I would NOT have thought of that.

      • Darrylok29

        I think you should also read Courtney Love … You’d probably love her lyrics too…

    • Ren

      Wow I never expected to see this come up in Mr. Altucher’s comment section.

      I second this recommendation – it’s a pretty gritty read. Even if you don’t get past the first chapter, you will still have gained some insight into the world of dead dogs and lube-covered miniature train paraphernalia.

  • Anonymous

    I aced every poetry assignment on twenty minutes of writing. I sweat blood and Cutty Sark for twelve hours for every story I submitted for fiction workshop. The value ratio: .33/12 (because the harder it is the better it feels).

    I just read Ham on Rye and loved it. The irreverence covers even his own ego. There’s more in that line, “It’s when you hide things that you choke on them,” than a thousand others. 

    How more honest a narrator than the one who gives you the shit first and foremost? 

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      Yeah, I agree. And “Ham on Rye’ is brutal. Why isn’t that taughtin classes instead of the Great Gatsby.

      • Anonymous

        I dunno what about that scene in Gatsby when Tom’s mistress gets her boob knocked off by that car?

      • David Horwitz

        The last line of The Great Gatsby – “So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past” – pure poetry and truth, for me… the book is worth it just for that sentence.  Will check out Bukowski.  Thanks!

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_FVAXY5OZTYZ2D35XXYJLNEJVBI Bullocks

        Bukowski isn’t taught in schools because it would validate to teenagers all the things that adults fear: parents are completely insane; the most interesting things in life are sex and alcohol; and you can become a success without following the conventional rules. 

  • Anthony

    James,
    Dan Fante, John’s son, has some might fine winopocalypse writing. I thoroughly enjoy your stuff. For a rich guy you write like a poor guy.

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      Thanks but I will recall thewords of one of my investors, “you never know what someone is worth until they file for bankruptcy.” In this world I think everyone is hanging on by a thread.

      I love John Fante. I’m afraid toread Dan Fante for some reason. Maybe I’m afraid I’ll get the feeling he’s trying too hard to be like his father. Somehow I don’t feel he is vetted enough.

  • http://twitter.com/mikjnsn Mike Johnson

    James- I’d give Harry Crews a read- some great southern fiction…After reading a couple of his books I saw him speak in a small setting. He may not have still been the heroin addict that he once was, but he still had the tics and the intensity. Whew! It warms ‘me cockles’ just thinking about that bastard of a storyteller…

  • Don Milligan

    James I think this is one of your best posts yet.

    Focused and directed with insights that anybody can apply to their everyday life. While I appreciate a lot of your wisdom, it isn’t easy for someone to follow all of your advice without risking consequences (not that anyone should follow all of someone else’s advice). This post is entirely graspable and has really made my day to boot.

  • Mrsd

    Female chirping in here. I read Women when I was in my late 20’s. At first I was a bit put off by the way he treated the women. But I was happily surprised that by the end of the novel I loved the main character. I’m not a writer, but I like to read. I’ve always wanted to read more of his stuff, so now 15 years later, I might pick one up at the library. Thanks for the interesting post. I never knew Dirty Realism existed as a term/category.

  • James E. Miller

    Holy shit James, Bukowski is a phenomenal writer and it’s awesome you are praising him. I started reading him in high school but I have lost his books by lending them to girlfriends who dumped me. How is that for ironic?

  • http://www.kararane.com kara rane

    Lynda Barry “Cruddy”

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Derek-Morgan/572727958 Derek Morgan

    I’ll definitely check out Charles Bukowski after this, I’d recommend Aleksandar Hemon, his writing, especially The Lazarus Project, is about 80% autobiography and he is able to say a lot with a little. 

  • pjc

    I can’t take guys like Burkowski. Too dark. Too much like where I imagine myself going, if I switch coffee for beer.

    Guys like that are tragic. Their drugs don’t inform their art, so much as their art shines out from underneath the broad shadow of their drugs. 

    Cleaner, he would have been better. Different, maybe missing a few bits, still dark, but better.

  • Dave

    Thanks for sharing this wisdom, James

  • http://twitter.com/HarrisonAmy Amy Harrison

    I love Bukowski and return to him when I need inspiration. It’s his persistence and honesty that I love the most. I can’t remember if it’s in Ham On Rye or a biography on him that I have, but I remember reading how he would write in the margins on newspapers in a cold room, not food, bottle of wine and mice running round, because he just had to get it out. There’s a good article about him over at Lateral Action about “Don’t Try”… ;-)

  • http://www.reallygoodthinking.com Ian Aspin

    Hey Mr. A.,

    I now know how you turn out so much delicious stuff.  It’s the same way Bukowski did.  
    You have a little leprechaun to write your stuff now.
    You keep him in a ten-foot cage with atypewriter, feed him whiskey and raw whores.

    This is the secret of your endurance.  

    And this, is Bukowski’s: http://su.pr/3RlzyQ

    Much love,

    Mr. A.

    • ppearlman

      loved that vid. tx!

    • ppearlman

      loved that vid. tx!

  • http://www.szelhamos.com TheAcsMan

    Given Bukowski’s life, it’s almost certain that “Ham on Rye” was an unauthorized autobiography.

    I wonder how he’s taking the news that James Franco is writing the Ham on Rye screenplay. Now that he’s captured the essence of ape raising scientist, it’s time to move on to loftier projects. Like Bukowski, who for six years was the TV host of The Price is Right, sometimes you do things for the money necessary to fuel your passions

    • Anonymous

      Once you make your million, you can afford to look around for street cred.

      • http://www.szelhamos.com TheAcsMan

        Was there a specific million you had in mind?

  • Max Watman

    Larry Brown and Barry Hannah. I enthusiastically second the Exley call, below. (Leonora, in town, was friends with Exley.) Breece D’J Pancake [sic]. 

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      OK, its settled. I’m going to get Exley today. Barry Hannah (along with Bonnie Ann Mason (mentioned below)) I feel are a bit too Southern for me, if that makes sense. I can’t get into their stuff somehow.

      Coffee later?

      • Erik Rittenberry

        Exley will blow your mind!!

      • Max Watman

        They are very Southern, but they’re very good. I had to run out of the house today, coffee tomorrow? (That being thursday.) 

  • Darrylok29

    I get real nervous when folks start telling me how “honest” they are..not for them to say, ya know?

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      Who is saying that?

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      Who is saying that?

  • Darrylok29

    I get real nervous when folks start telling me how “honest” they are..not for them to say, ya know?

  • Darrylok29

    I get real nervous when folks start telling me how “honest” they are..not for them to say, ya know?

  • Darrylok29

    Have you changed your prediction call on DOW 20000 ?  If so tha twould be in how many months from today? I can’t remember the date you posted the predicition but it was at 18 months, no?

  • Darrylok29

    Have you changed your prediction call on DOW 20000 ?  If so tha twould be in how many months from today? I can’t remember the date you posted the predicition but it was at 18 months, no?

  • Darrylok29

    Matt Dillon. I saw him once in a yogurt store in LA. It took him half hour to order and he had to ask all the ingredients and how many calories. Tough guy,no?

  • JoeKhul

    There is a problem with this post.

    All great writers were alcoholics.

    You aren’t an alcoholic.

    See the problem?

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      I think i disagree with every line of your comment.

      • JoeKhul

        Fitzgerald was a well known cry in his beer closet type boozer.  Hemmingway was pretty much the set in stone manly man Drunkard.  Kill a moose while drinking a fifth.  Not many drank more moonshine than old Faulkner and the list goes on and on.  

        There must be some connection??

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      I think i disagree with every line of your comment.

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      I think i disagree with every line of your comment.

  • http://beerandlentils.blogspot.com Brett M

    I have been reading to many lighthearted things lately, I think I’ll pick up post office.
    Also, read your recent post on freakonomics, probably the best summary of the financial meltdown and whos to blame I’ve read.

  • Erik Rittenberry

    Bukowski is awesome! It’s funny you wrote this blog today man,
    because  I’m actually reading Bukowski’s ‘Hot
    Water Music’ right now and I have Carver’s ‘Cathedral’ coming in the mail soon.
    Quite Coincidental. I was definitely going to say Frederick Exley, but a lot of
    readers already recommended him. I would have to throw Richard Yates in there.
    I think he’s one of the greatest (underrated) writers of the 20th
    century.  He might have just missed the “Dirty
    Realism” era though! I also wrote a blog about the Drunken Poet a few months
    ago…http://wp.me/p1kTkD-18

  • http://twitter.com/IsabelSummers Isabel Summers

    Do you like Cormac McCarthy as well? He is my favorite. Do you think that Bukowski is at all similar as a very gritty writer?  I have never read Bukowski.

  • Chillin111

    I’ve read everything Bukowski wrote. When people ask who he is, I say he was a genius but probably a real drunk asshole if you met him. When they ask what I recommend they read of his. I say anything EXCEPT Pulp. I own every book of his except Pulp. Great post!!

    • Chillin111

      Oh one more thing, you mentioned women in this category. One comes to mind, Miranda July. might not be as gritty but super honest and real.

      • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

        You are totally right. I actually meant to include July on the list. She’s very real and a total addict in a love addiction sort of way.

      • Darrylok29

        Gritty is something to aspire to? Gritty is what little adolescent boys love. It plays to their sentimentality for violent behavior and bay boy thoughts. Makes it okay for them to believe that being a whiney assed loser nobody wants to hang out with is really okay.

        How can anybody in their right mind mention Buk and F Scott in the same breath?

  • http://www.dinosaurtrader.com dinosaurtrader

    Man, I couldn’t agree more with what you say about the poetry in the end. Can’t stand most of it. Seriously though, check out Mary Oliver. Think of her in terms of meditating. It’s simple and all about stillness. You might like it.

    That said, Charles Bukowski would fuck her shit up.

    -DT

    • Darrylok29

      Youre’ wrong…I just read some MAry Oliver..Buk doesn’t have the balls to write like her. He’s too busy whining in his own piss.

  • http://twitter.com/PhillipMarlow Phillip Marlow

    Re: Jesus’ Son…it’s not as good as the book. Moves slowly.

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      Thats because the book might be the best collection of short stories ever. No movie can match it.

      • http://twitter.com/PhillipMarlow Phillip Marlow

        Have you read The Pugilist at Rest by Thom Jones? Very similar styles and probably my personal favorite.

  • slav

    I can’t believe no one called out Tales of Ordinary Madness. Amazing collection of short stories by the one known as the Buk

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      Yes, its excellent.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_D75SDX33Y6WTVYV4I34MQJNLHI Fishfry

      That’s the new, “revised” title. The original was published as Erections, Ejaculations, Exhibitions and General Tales of Ordinary Madness. 

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_D75SDX33Y6WTVYV4I34MQJNLHI Fishfry

      That’s the new, “revised” title. The original was published as Erections, Ejaculations, Exhibitions and General Tales of Ordinary Madness. 

  • Anonymous

    You know, Altucher, this sucks: just when i’ve decided to hate you all over again, I fall in love with you all over again. Don’t stop, kid, yer doin’ it good.

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      ha

  • Anonymous

    (And yes, i’m reposting this all over the place, with all the usual pointers on how to find you.)

  • Anonymous

    Dipping back: if you haven’t already gone there: Solzhenitsyn: One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovitch, and Cancer Ward.

  • http://twitter.com/Meredithbead Meredith Laskow

    Masters degree in English Lit demands poetry that is bloodless, heartless, soulless.  Emotions are bad.  Obscure references are good.

    The New Yorker subscribes to this school of poetry.  They won’t publish poetry written from the gut (as neither will most literary journals — especially those connected to a university) so stop looking for penguins in the desert.

    Many poets bleed, male and female equally. Substance abuse is a band-aid which more men than women (I think) have glorified to the status of God.

    • Darrylok29

      you clearly do not know what you’re talking about with respect to the New Yorker..stick to jewelry

  • http://twitter.com/Meredithbead Meredith Laskow

    Masters degree in English Lit demands poetry that is bloodless, heartless, soulless.  Emotions are bad.  Obscure references are good.

    The New Yorker subscribes to this school of poetry.  They won’t publish poetry written from the gut (as neither will most literary journals — especially those connected to a university) so stop looking for penguins in the desert.

    Many poets bleed, male and female equally. Substance abuse is a band-aid which more men than women (I think) have glorified to the status of God.

  • Anonymous

    I love this post – thanks for writing it.

  • Jason

    The New Yorker actually had a gutsy poem a few weeks ago by a gy named Matthew Dickman (really) called “Geting It Right” It was only the second good poem I’ve read in the New Yorker in the last five years. It features a great line in praise of his lover: “Your ass is like a shopping mall at Christmastime.” Sweet!

    • http://twitter.com/Meredithbead Meredith Laskow

      I missed that one (not a subscriber.) Maybe they have a new poetry editor?

  • http://www.bradentalbot.com Braden Talbot

    Gotta love the Buk!

  • Sebastian

    What do you think of South of No North, James?

    • Sebastian

      By the way, the cover of your new book, looks like the cover of South of No North.

      • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

        Yes, I stole the idea of the design from that book. And I think  its his best collection of stories.

  • Anonymous

    I saw the documentary Altucher references above.  It shows Bukowski to be an abusive pig of a drunk.  How writing angry prose only about himself nets a man fame is beyond me.  If you only write of yourself you’re writing about a pretty damned small circle.  

    Bukowski the greatest American writer of all?  That’s like saying Altucher is the most discerning critic of all time. 

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      I recommend you read “Ham on Rye” before judging.

      • Dave

        Calling Bukes the greatest American writer is like calling Hendrix the greatest guitar player ever. It’s a judgment that transcends qualification. Yes, Bukes was a great writer. But so were and are countless others. Hendrix was a great guitarist. But so were and are countless others.
        THAT SAID, however, I actually did enjoy Pulp. I think to harp on it kinda misses the point. He was writing a bad book on purpose. He knew it was shit and admitted that it was shit, and it was that much better of a book for it. It had no pretensions of being a literary masterpiece, but merely a mirror of some of the bad writing that Bukes himself was aware of.
        But I agree that Ham On Rye is f’ng awesome. I liked Women a lot too and Post Office is another great. I’m reading Hot Water Music right now and it’s great, though I prefer his full length books better.
        “An intellectual says a simple thing in a hard way. An artist says a hard thing in a simple way.” –Bukowski

    • Thegutenbergpress

      Tracey Emin is considered one of Britain’s greatest living artists, and she creates art solely out of autobiographical detritus. I don’t ‘get’ that either — unless someone clearly shows me the line between where the confessional stuff stops and the art begins, couldn’t any one of us with a shred of ‘a story’ present it as art? Bukowski doesn’t speak  for all who were tormented by alcoholism and narcissistic chaos in the presence of other people — (usually wome)n. He speaks about himself. Only himself.

      But bloody hell, his poetry does a good job. Short, complete pieces that grasp the misanthropic gristle that underlies his relationships, his whoring, his drinking, his crap jobs, like rusty nails. Maybe his poetry was all that was needed. A nugget of disdain every day that elevates him even above nihilistic disappointment. Bukowski was distrustful of or disgusted by the chain of moments that constituted his entire life. He brushed them off in his poetry as though all he needed to get through was a tetanus injection and more drink. Though Tom Waits does insist that he settled and became more at ease with himself in his later life.

      The title of ‘the greatest’ writer or artists bears more responsibility now than ever — with populations sinking in the slurry of bland, sedating consumerism, the ‘greatest artist’ has to achieve something that sets the bells tolling for everyone, getting us all off of our fat arses to realise that life is there to be grabbed — especially when it burns — and that opportunity won’t present itself on a 4-seater corner sofa in front of a 42″ TV screen with 3 different gaming consoles hooked up. The Bukowski growl might not be the prettiest way to wake up, but the challenge for those who disagree with him is to think about how to argue back. The two truths that make up paradoxical impressions of existence — there you go, that’s art. The Bukowskis and the Emins are just one, limited side of that debate, too stuck in their own experience to develop a more inclusive meaning that encompasses the disappointments that the sedated masses have learned, unbeknownst to themselves, to ignore by spending their Friday nights rowing with their partner, their Saturdays shopping, and their Sundays in a hungover daze in front of that 42″ TV screen.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_D75SDX33Y6WTVYV4I34MQJNLHI Fishfry

    Shotgun at the finish. Hunter Thompson lived and died that way. Nice piece James. 

    • Anonymous

      I got that he was referring to Hemingway.

  • Michaeldostrolenk

    Can you add a print function to each of your articles?  I am old school and still like to print my a.m. reading out and enjoy over green tea

  • Onebornfree

     I would recommend you try early Andrew Vachss,[“Bluebell” etc.] and  the Marquis de Sade.

    For perseverance, try a biography of the Marquis, who reportedly wrote from prison, in his own blood, on pieces of cloth after all his writing materials were all confiscated!

  • Anonymous

    Colby Buzzell attempts it but doesn’t quite get there with Lost in America: A Dead-End Journey
     – Autobiographical – check.
     – Alcoholism – check.
     – Inability to hold down a job – check.
     – Disrespect for women in his life – check.
     – Living like a bum – check.
     – Inability to gain readers’ sympathy – check.

    But I highly recommend his My War: Killing Time in Iraq in any case…

  • http://twitter.com/Joshiedooozie J

    Bukowski is too raw, too vulgar at times, but it’s enjoyable… one just has to be in the mood. 

    • Darrylok29

      Maybe these guys all write this weirdo dark shit cause they’re too chicken shit to just off themselves. And when they do finally off themselves, they leave all this weird dark shit anyway. Lose lose.

  • http://twitter.com/MellowedDrama S

    Buk’s outlook – in his work and otherwise – has a glimmer of hope. Also, he was extremely hard working and independent. Great post! :)

  • http://twitter.com/MellowedDrama S

    Buk’s outlook – in his work and otherwise – has a glimmer of hope. Also, he was extremely hard working and independent. Great post! :)

  • Bryan McMillan

    I don’t think it quite qualifies as dirty fiction, but honest? Powerful? Haunting? To the gut? Definitely Dan Chaon’s Among the Missing.

    Great post! I’ll have to dig out my Bukowskis. Added Factotum to my queue, thanks.

  • http://twitter.com/UpliftMofoLLC ST

    I still have the book of matches from Buk’s wedding that a mutual friend gave me. What comes to mind in the dirty realism genre is the great noir guys – James Cain, Jim Thompson, Horace McCoy. Close to Buk is Harry Crews. Maybe Larry Brown, James Crumley. Lowry’s, Under the Volcano. Trying to not double-up on what others suggested but I have to reiterate, Henry Miller. I know readers that liked The Losers’ Club, you may like it (I didn’t love it). Dear Dead Person, stories by Benjamin Weissman. Much of Arthur Nersesian.  

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      I will check a lot of these out. thanks! And Art Nersesian is one of my favorites. he’s actually my youngest daughter’s godfather (which would be hard to believe after reading some of his books).

  • kb

    You missed South of No North and Hot Water Music.  

    And Carver is insanely genius.

  • Anonymous

    this is great, my buds and i have been obsessed with bukowski for a couple years now
     

  • Hungrybrain

    Nightmare Alley William Lindsay Gresham 1946 It’s a grifter story, a carny story, whose main character is Stan Carlisle, a
    handsome con artist/fake mind reader who slowly works his way down the food
    chain until there’s nothing left for him except the job of circus geek. it’s on Kindle Read Now you will like you will like Read Now http://www.amazon.com/Nightmare-Alley-Review-Books-Classics/dp/1590173481/ref=ntt_at_ep_dpt_1

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      Thanks! I never heard of it. I’m going to download this second.

  • Josh Maislin

    Just found your blog.
    Great posts!
    Two things:

    -You didn’t really talk much about Hamsun. If you wanna read an awesome book by Hamsun, read “Mysteries.” For the love of God, don’t read Growth of the Soil.

    -I know you mention Bukowski writing every day, but one thing that stood out to me is how in “Women” he says he went two weeks without writing and didn’t really give a shit–he knew he’d start writing again soon enough. In addition to writing consistently, he also gave himself some room to breath and didn’t have a fucked up neurotic relationship with a rigid routine.  

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      What do you tihnk of “Hunger” by Hamsun. Started it, but having a hard time getting through to the end.

      • Josh Maislin

        I always had mixed feelings about Hunger.
        There are some great lines and some funny situations.

        But it’s kind of this hodgepodge that doesn’t hang together that well. Kind of the same feeling I get when from a lot of debut or early novels from authors. The book never really came to life for me. 

        “Mysteries” has a lot of the surreal interactions and eccentric dude offending/mystifying people in a funny way, but it’s a much richer work in my opinion. Not just talking about plot.

  • BrianBalk

    Here’s a poem you might like.  I too haven’t cared for most poetry I’ve encountered.  But ‘IF’, by Rudyard Kipling, is an entire philosophy of life in seven short, amazingly well-crafted verses.  It parallels many of the ideas you’ve mentioned – honesty; treating everyone the same regardless of station, wealth or power; having the courage to take risks, the courage to start over; persistence; focus; effort.

  • http://Www.brookefarmer.com Brooke Farmer

    Poetry is a dirty, ugly necessity for those of us who write it. It’s a means to survival, not an indulgence. I don’t recommend jumping into it as a learning tool.

    • Ed77

      Oh please…Your comment actually validates all that James said about poetry. THIS is the kind of pompous, cliché, smug comment that makes me want to puke my balls through my anus whenever I hear the word “poetry”. Water, food, oxygen are means of survival. You’re not going to die if don’t write poetry. Spare us this intelectual sef-indulgent “I’m an artist, I’m so sensitive” crap.

      • Ed77

        Maybe my reply came out a little bit too harsh, sorry. Been to your blog and you’re actually a very good writer. Stick to prose and don’t say pompous stuff like that aloud. 

        Didn’t mean to be mean, though.

        • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

          Brooke is the best. I definitely encourage people to go to her blog and check it out:  http://brookefarmer.blogspot.com/

          Hers is a more autobiographical day-by-day style. Traditional blog but with her literary flare.

          • http://Www.brookefarmer.com Brooke Farmer

            James- Thank you so much for your kind words.

            Ed 77- No worries. A bit harsh but I’m generally pretty thick skinned. I do think that writing has, on more than one occasion been the thing that kept me from suicide. In that sense it truly has been a means of survival for me.

        • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

          Brooke is the best. I definitely encourage people to go to her blog and check it out:  http://brookefarmer.blogspot.com/

          Hers is a more autobiographical day-by-day style. Traditional blog but with her literary flare.

        • Dave

          hahaha…wow…
          post #1: Your reply was so bad it makes me want to visit your home, murder you and your family, and skull rape any of your living relatives then inject them with the AIDS virus. You should not be allowed to live.post #2: I’m sorry, that came out wrong. What I meant to say is that I understand your thoughts but respectfully disagree with what you say. I actually do enjoy your work and look forward to more from you.

          • Loser

            You think ED77 is rude, but yet you believe he deserves to be murdered along with his family for his harsh words. Who’s truly the offensive one you agressive-passive-aggressive, pansy-ass, anus sniffer!!

        • Loser

          Well said.

    • Miro

      I can’t open your blog. It’s saying that only invited readers can open it

  • Vik

    I don’t think Pulp is that bad, although not nearly as good as his other stuff.

  • http://twitter.com/DSettembrini Nietzsche’sPortfolio

    Nightmare Alley by William Lindsay Gresham 1946: It’s a grifter story, a carny story, whose main character is Stan Carlisle, a
    handsome con artist/fake mind reader who slowly works his way down the food
    chain until there’s nothing left for him except the job of circus geek. On Kindle too

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      Read it. Loved it.

  • Luca Leone

    Particularly inspiring
    post by James. Especially the persistence and discipline paragraphs.
    It reminded me of some pages of “Martin Eden”, an
    autobiographical story where London described very well the great
    effort he put in to become successful as a writer. The more I read
    this blog the more I think the most important thing I am learning
    from James is that he is successful because he is disciplined,
    persistent, hard working.

  • Random

    Deliberate consideration is rare, and superior to intuition sometimes.  Lovely thoughts.  Thanks.

  • Basdjsad

    Going to have to disagree with you about Pulp. It may not be the same style as his other novels, but it’s an integral part of his collection. In terms of his short stories, Hot Water Music is no doubt his best, followed by South of No North.

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      Love the two collections of short stories but would still put them behind his first five novels and even his book “Tales of Ordinary Madness”.

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      Love the two collections of short stories but would still put them behind his first five novels and even his book “Tales of Ordinary Madness”.

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      I feel Pulp is too…pulpish. And I know that might be his creative point. But its just not interesting. Its like a bad 1930s novel. The kind he might’ve read as a kid and now he figured he could emulate. So it has artistic merit (he pulled it off) but as an enjoyable read I didn’t think it worked.

  • Basdjsad

    Going to have to disagree with you about Pulp. It may not be the same style as his other novels, but it’s an integral part of his collection. In terms of his short stories, Hot Water Music is no doubt his best, followed by South of No North.

  • Acegeorgia

    Most poetry is worse than garbage, no question.  However, consider these poems:
    “Invictus” by Henley, “To The Virgins” by Herrick, “The Law of the Yukon” by Robert Service, “The Second Coming” by Keats, or just about anything by Kipling (my favorites include “If” and “Gods of the Copybook Headings”).  Those are anything but impenetrable nonsense.  I have read Service’s “Yukon” poem aloud to over 120 people, I think that much of it; only two people spoke poorly of it.

  • http://www.kstn.biz/ Dellas

    I was definitely going to say Frederick Exley, but a lot ofreaders already recommended him. !!!

  • KJ Farrington

    Writers who might set your Buk antenna twitching? Here’s one for you, Noah Cicero. Here’s another: Carl Watson. Watson hasn’t written that much, well, I should say published. I’ll bet he’s written far more than he’s published. “Empire of the Birds”. Its disturbing and it feels brutally honest.

  • Searx

    James, you mention that there aren’t many poets you like. i think you’d like Philip Larkin e.g.
    ‘your mom & dad they fuck you up they may not mean to but they do’..

    how about ‘fire & ice’ by Frost?

  • http://twitter.com/EntreprenKorner EntrepreneursKorner

    Nice story. Some people get instant success like this guy:

    http://bit.ly/veiM5C

  • Ronald Williams

    Though non-fiction, I would suggest Neil Strauss’s book.  Specifically “The Dirt” about rock band Motley Crue and “The Game” about pick-up artists.

    Tucker Max is good too, kinda defining a more modern white collar, college educated dirty realism.

    The same goes for the Philadelphia Lawyer and his book “Happy Hour is for Amateurs”.

    I’d also suggest Arron Goldfarb.  I believe his books are perported to be fiction.  Maybe not.  I’d suggest his novel “How to Fail” and his short story collection about sex in New york city.  Really good.

  • hamtramck harry

    i like the movie, “tales of ordinary madness” with ben gazzara. it looks most like buk’s writing. 

  • Adam

    This is awesome. It’s rare indeed when you can talk openly about Bukowski. I was rocking my new-born baby to sleep at silly o’clock the other day when I pulled ‘The Most Beautiful Girl in Town’ down from the bookcase. I suddenly felt warm all over in that darkness.

    ‘Ham’ is my favourite – there’s an epic scene when he and a friend go to watch small planes racing each other, they end up walking under the stands to look up skirts. He delivers one of the great lines of all time to end that chapter.

    Love your stuff James…

  • hrabal

    6 things not to be learned from this article:

    1. “post office” is a superior book to “ham on rye”
    2. celine’s writing is nothing like bukowski’s
    3. “tales of ordinary madness” is a better bukowski film that either of those mentioned in this article
    4. bukowksi was at his best writing poetry, not fiction. he said as much himself
    5. denis johnson is a wannabe hack that bukowski would have despised. carver was even less like him, and owes much of what he knows about writing to john gardner, not bukowski.
    6. bukowksi was a long shot from the greatest american writer ever

  • rickiewrites.wordpress.com

    great post. bukowski is one of my favorite writers specifically for the rawness of his words and the realness of his subject matter.

  • nofuntown

    another very insightful, inspiring article by James

  • http://urbangallivant.wordpress.com/ Rohit Gupta

    I just finished reading the ‘Ham on Rye’. I was definitely on an emotional roller coaster for most part of the book. The book is a refreshing change, he is anti-monotony as well.!

  • http://twitter.com/dyer440 David N. Dyer

    I love Bukowski!! He’s like my alter ego when or if I was to give up caring… that in itself is very damn interesting.

  • Chaz Green

    Homage to Catalonia is one of the best auto biographical works I have read.

    And some of the posts on here, you guys try too hard. Go easier on yourselves.

  • Kenneth Crockett

    This is a really old post, but I thought I’d mention Al Purdy as a poet you should check out. I believe him and Bukowski had a friendship.

  • Erick Mejía

    How do you call Bukowski a misogynist? Have you NOT read his books at all or wtf?

  • heavynumber

    I had the unfortunate pleasure of knowing Charles Bukowski in the 80’s.He was an egomaniacal,mysogynistic drunken sod.He thought his “fame” was “the greatest joke on humanity since religion”.He thought the fact that people were actually “influenced” by him and that young artistic women were drawn to him was an even better joke.we had a mutual hatred for each other.I knew what that POS really was and the only thing I can say about him is I’m glad he’s dead

    • another young artistic women

      Bukowski was an asshole. I get that. I don’t like everything he’s written and most of the times it seemed he was just trying to piss people off by being as rude and foul as possible. But I get where he’s coming from. For me it’s not that I’m influenced by Bukowski it’s that sometimes I’ll find a little diamond in his work. It will click in my head and it’s as if I couldn’t have said it better myself. What Can We Do? Lifedance? I love those. Sometimes when he decided not to be brutally honest in a foul way he showed something genius. It was in him. The same thing that’s in me I guess. I can’t do the foul, nitty gritty, unnecessary truth that he does, but I can do that honesty that’s in What Can We Do? And shined through his walls when he talked about peoples death being a sham because there was nothing left to die. When he said stuff like “Whiskey makes the heart beat faster but it sure doesn’t help the mind and isn’t it funny how you can ache just from the deadly drone of existence?” In those moments I can relate to him and honestly I can’t say I relate to many people. That means something to me. And that’s why I like Bukowski. But I’m not sure I’d ever want to meet him. Sitting across the table from Bukowski would be much like staring into the sun I imagine. It’d burn your eyes and could possibly make you go blind.

  • A

    I hate Bukowski. I found this by typing “I hate Bukowski” into google… but honestly this was a great article. There are a lot of things you can learn form him even if he was a crappy writer (which I believe he was). Women was all about him being too drunk to “come” and him sleeping with ridiculously crazy people. If he really did write about his experiences, he certainly dated some real whackjobs. Lydia, the craziest one, took up a forth of the book on her own.

  • m.f.

    Please read One Wish Left by Tony Gloeggler— It would change your mind about poetry. I’ll reimburse yoiu the cost if you don’t love it

  • Gaevska

    Thanks! It s great article about incredible writter. i am so impressed by it and i hurry up to read his novels.

  • Alexandra Carbone

    Hey, I really liked your blog entry. I wrote a similar one about why I like him, check it out :) http://www.smooloo.com/some-stuff-about-bukowski/

  • CW Crane

    I just finished writing my second novel which is much different than the first. I’d been reading Bukowski and his honesty – so honest the words disappear – made me think I’d been doing it all wrong.

  • Bassimer

    Hubert Selby Jr “Last Exit to Brooklyn”