Charles Bukowski

August 30, 2020

I had never read Charles Bukowski, but after reading Scott Ian’s Anthrax book I became curious as to how Bukowski compared to Hunter S. Thompson. I wanted to post some preliminary findings. I used Audible. I noticed a number of Bukowski fictional books. I selected Hollywood as the most popular and best novel. I liked the book right away. I liked the reader’s speaking voice with his southern charm. The book seems to be about a man (Bukowski himself) who goes to Hollywood to become a screen writer. Along the way he drinks heavily and meets a cast of ridiculous characters. He gives the minimal amount of effort and he is so talented everyone thinks he’s a genius. Bukowski is mocking everyone in Hollywood. He gets an advance on his screen play and a tax consulate tells him to buy a house and a car that he can’t afford and does not want to save money on taxes. The story is like a running gag or a Burroughs Routine.

I also noticed a resemblance to Archy and Mehitabel writer Don Marquis’s gag in which he tells someone how to get rich. It went “First you buy some farm land, and the government pays you not to plant corn. You take these profits and buy more land and the government pays you not to grow wheat.” At one point the government was paying people not to grow crops and it was called farm subsidies. By paying people not to grow crops they wanted to stabilize the price of food.

In another scene Bukowski meets some of his fans. Once they recognize him, they surround him and make demands. This would probably happen to Bukowski if he were alive today. Bukowski seems depressed in spite of being at the top of his game, as if all of Hollywood is meaningless to him. He says he only needs a small apartment and a manual typewriter, not a big house and big car. But part of me wants also to return the novel and not continue it. It’s brilliant, but has some issues. I may update this entry after I finish the book. Your comments are welcome.

I have read a bit farther, but some of the stuff in the book is so disturbing that I have to stop listening for a while. So, therefore, I have not yet finished the book. It seems like the book is a series of gags and jokes with setups, that are either funny in a dark way or just disguising, if you are not laughing. But to be familiar with Bukowski is important when you study modern and post modern literature because his style is often copied.

6 thoughts on “Charles Bukowski

  1. Leukemia as the cause of his death seems wrong to me. After reading his notes on drinking and about the hospital, it seems almost impossible to consider his death could have come from something other than drinking. Was alcohol even a contributing factor? I think that Bukowski would have wanted to die from drinking. It seems more romantic than cancer which can hit anyone at random for no reason at all. Dying like Kerouac would have been a more suitable. I can’t find the words to explain it correctly, but when you die from drinking you die on your own terms.


  2. I found that On Drinking is part of Notes of A Dirty Old Man. They repackaged it to sell it twice, but the speakers are different so instead got Tales of Ordinary Madness. I started On Drinking at once and it’s amazing, spellbindingly interesting.


  3. You might get a shock when you delve into Bukowski’s more authentic works. He wrote articles for a newspaper column which were collected in “Notes of a Dirty Old Man.” He discussed the sordid real-life experiences of street life, alcoholism, sex, criminality, hard core stuff.


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