Books You Might Not Have Read Yet: Two from Buk

Published July 16, 2009 by Molly


My parents allowed me to read anything in the house. If it was on the bookshelf, it was fair game. This is how I learned many things: how to cuss, how to use the dictionary as a demystifying tool, how to develop a distinct taste in literature.

The cussing part came courtesy of Charles Bukowski, the poet and novelist deemed by Time to be the “laureate of American lowlife”. His books were on the shelf because they were good, for one thing, but also because Bukowski was a compadre of my grandfather’s. I don’t think either of my parents dipped into the stash of novels and poetry often, but I sure did: the stories were rough, plainspoken and filled with salacious details and philosophical tangling. It helped that the volumes, all published by Black Sparrow, had remarkably cool covers.

I started with 1971’s Post Office and, since it suited my tastes, moved on to 1982’s Ham on Rye. From there, it was a short hop to the writer’s accessible poems and letters. Any way I came at it, an hour spent reading Bukowski was an hour spent inside the mind of the dirtiest (and cleverest) old man I’d ever met.

If my parents only knew.

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2 comments so far

  1. sm says:

    In ‘Born Into This’. He wears a tshirt of himself. he obviously wears it a lot…it’s covered in blood, vomit and alcohol stains.

    He rules.

  2. [...] It ranges from musings on Masonic rituals to an endorsement of one of our favorite authors, Charles Bukowski. So until the movie finally hits theaters, we’re keeping busy finding out more about what makes [...]