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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“You Need an Angle”

This two-minute read from March, 2018, is worth bringing again to the attention of writers–a good lesson from Hemingway in the Paris years.

The End is Near

Desktop2In clearing the top of my desk this late evening (pay no attention to the remote controls), I found a stack of pages from the diary I wrote while in prison.  As is likely to happen while I’m straightening up, I started reading.  I found the following, from July 4, 2015:

10:35 AM, reading Hemingway, A Moveable Feast.  The first chapter impressed me.  Five pages of intense, lumpy description full of lovely touches where every word seems so well fitted into the whole, like each a piece in a mosaic, that I could rarely find one that I would change.  A quote (Scribner, New York, 1964-2001):

“All of the sadness of the city came suddenly with the first cold rains of winter, and there were no more tops to the high white houses as you walked but only the wet blackness of the street and the closed doors of…

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Prison Diary: On Writing Fiction

Here are some notes on writing and “my method,” especially related to producing first drafts; from March of 2010.  This was written early in my prison career; I will post further material on writing from the Prison Diary (which continues for another six years) as I get it dictated into the computer; this particular material...