On Reading Charles Bukowski

An old post (2018) that is more like an essay than most of my blog items. Charles Bukowski, popular after death as he rarely was in life.

The End is Near

Charles_Bukowski_smoking

Charles Bukowski (1920-1994)

[Photo source:  Wikipedia]

I like to say and to tell myself that I was “influenced” by Henry Thoreau, Bertrand Russell, Jonathan Kozol, and other acclaimed and brilliant thinkers–see My Best Books for a long list.  But in fact I started reading Charles Bukowski before any of these others, in my teens, and found in him the antisocial antihero that I had longed for without knowing it, that others found in James Dean or The Wild One, a kind of savage, a Tarzan of the slums.  It was Bukowski (hereafter, affectionately, “Buk”) that nourished the social critic, the crank, in me, and prepared me for the more systematic and effective Walden of Thoreau that I loved and was corrupted by at seventeen.

I first encountered Bukowski in his book, Notes of a Dirty Old Man, in my local bookstore; I bought it for the…

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