Against Bukowski (1 Viewer)

No doubt this link has been given before but I think I should be reasserted. Follow this link and you get two reasonably thoughtful essay's that try to bring Bukowski back down to earth..

Harsh reading for all the young Bukowski lovers out there. I really love his writing but at the same time...I think these essays hit the mark....I see my self as part of that 'unquestioning audience' that think to be a writer all you have to do is 'get drunk all the time' 'take drugs' 'act messed up'.

The counter culture has easy appeal. Just be cycnical of everything and do nothing and pass it off as courage or stamina. I think to keep this site weel balanced we need to see Buk in a critical average writer though prolific...that caricature of american low=life.

Sometimes I forget that what I came across Bukowski without having any idea who the guy was and what drove me to like him was his painful simplicity and towering mediocrity...I liked him for his limitations. But the sad thing is that many of his reads try to imitate life and in writing.

Myths are stronger than realities...
I've read these before. I have no problem with anti -Bukowski arguments, but to call these thoughtful is a bit much.
they seemed petty and jealous.
and yes, there are too many acolytes writing about beer shits and wiping off on the curtains. that's not buk's fault. just like we can't blame Pearl Jam for the creation of Creed.
fucken Creed.
Sure there is an element of jealousy and petty myth breaking!

But I think some of the criticisms are valid and a lot of the acolytes of Bukowski should read them and take a few steps back. People have a tendency to get carried away...this may bring them down a peg or two.
there's a really long thread here called "Dispelling Bukowski's myths" or something similar. You may change your mind after reading it...
Frankly, although I can't fault someone for not liking Bukowski, or anything else, I find it odd that someone that does not care for his writing, would spend so much time writing about WHY they do not like it and then insulting anyone else who does. This seems like the actions of a little mind. I may not listed to Creed, but would I write an essay on why Creed fans are vapid and cite examples in their lyrics? This just seems odd.... Really, If you like of Love Buk's writing, then fuck all of them. If it is not for them, then it is not for them. If I was the only one that liked Bukowski's writing, I'd still like his writing just as much...

You can't say "of course there is jealousy involved" and leave it at that.

Neither of those articles on the above link were paid "critical reviews," so what was the motivation? If the motivation was jealousy (neither writer really seemed familiar with Bukowski's work outside of the common stereotypical overview), what is the value of the piece? Whether or not it's valid criticism has to hinge at least partly on motivation.

If Bukowski really pissed someone off and made them angry, that would probably be interesting to read. But these...I have to agree with hoochmonkey9. They're petty, and worse, shallow. That makes them easy to dismiss.
cirerita said:
there's a really long thread here called "Dispelling Bukowski's myths" or something similar. You may change your mind after reading it...

My mind has not been changed by anything. I am not suggesting Bukowski was a fraud. I just think those 'reviews' make a could critical counter point on Bukowski. And as to the claims that these 'reviews' are shallow....I find that quite comic...I think to some extent the slap dash tone and nature of these reviews almost parodies Bukowskis quick easy often dismissive tone.

Forgive me for flinging dynamite into the Bukowski legacy...I just think there is nothing like a good counter point...challenging the 'common' perspective of a is an exercise in 'myth deflation'. I don't agree with the reviews entirely I just think they make some valid observations.
Olaf said:
And as to the claims that these 'reviews' are shallow....I find that quite comic...I think to some extent the slap dash tone and nature of these reviews almost parodies Bukowskis quick easy often dismissive tone.
Really? You think there was that much thought behind either of those? Unlikely.
Well, it's not exactly a Scholarly paper...but I wouldn't expect it to be...I compare to Bukowski only in tone...not in style or terms of thought they are hardly ground breaking...but they seem to have had a bit of research, at least the bare minimum in terms of biography....

Sure the resentment shows through in many parts but I just think it makes for a good 'controversial' counter point. So many people want their Idols to be Untouchable...I'm just saying hey - consider these cheap reviews - if purely just to see another perspective on Bukowski. Nothing more nothing less....

Like I say - I'm a consistent reader of Bukowski - it just felt like stirring some conversation by linking to something that doesn't readily support and embellish the man.
Olaf said:
So many people want their Idols to be Untouchable...

There is no problem with discussion, but again, there is a forum member stating that we are all blind followers of the cult of Bukwoski.

Were there better poets that Bukowski? Sure.
Were there better humanitarians than Bukowski? Sure.
Were there better lovers, friends, confidants, grocery store customers that Bukowski, Sure.

I just love reading the guy. I also know that had I ever met him, there is a chance that he'd have either loved me, liked me, tolerated me, hated me....

DO I think that he was the perfect human being? NO.

I have a good friend that never met Buk, even after his good friend, Red would call him and say "Kid, I'm meeting Hank over at Frank & Musso's for lunch, wanna come with us?" He always declined because, I think, he knew that there was a chance of it going badly. He is now very close friends with Linda Bukowski, but never met Hank. It is better to keep those that you admire at some distance, lest you run a risk of admiring someone that has been brutally unpleasant to you.

Most of us see Buk's faults and look past them. That does not mean that we do not know that they were there. To be human is to be full of faults...

Who is stating that people are blindly following Bukowski? Not me.

I just felt the necessity to but up some 'contrary to popular apprecation' of Bukowski. More so for all the people who read this seems appropraite to put up a counter point: a challenge to the common lover, that's all.

I am not against Bukowski by any stretch of the imaignation. I just thought this would cover all corners. It is easy to sit and praise. I just thought a little negative critique would do well for balance...and generate a bit of conversation.


when I say you could change your mind I was not talking about those pieces against B., I was just saying there's already a long thread where B's myths are dispelled, meaning you're not saying anything new when stating idols are Untouchable. Idols are "touchable", indeed.
Read the thread and you may change your mind.
Read the thread. Very interesting...good know it's Bukowski admits there is a lot of embellishment and, as in all writing, an element of hyperbole and persona creation.

I wasn't really trying to blow up the myth as much as give some access to 'views' that where critical of Bukowski. Seems appropriate...
Hi Olaf,
My apologies if you took offense at what I was saying. I did not mean anything against you.

Especially in the US, there are many of us that criticise things that we know nothing about. That was the point that I was trying to make. That these two "reviewers" do not know enough about Buk or his readers to make a judgement. It is a bit like Christians wanting to ban a book or movie that they consider Blasphemous, based solely on what their pastor says. They would never read or see it tehmselves and make the judgement, yet they KNOW that it is just awful.

Please don't feel like we are jumping on you from mentioning this. It is just a reaction to the revievs themselves, I think....

No need to apologise...I'm not taking it personally...I realise those reviews are not exactly 'concrete' or very thorough. I just felt there was need of some opposition. Some critical thoughts on Bukowski no matter how apparently flawed...I discovered that site and felt the need to post it....

No worries!
I guess you like playing the devil's advocate, huh? :D

I KIND OF felt that way when I wrote the "Dispelling B's myth", thinking, hey, wait a minute, you're dispelling B's myths in a B forum!!! Are you out of your mind? I foresaw I would be eternally punished by the forum members, but it never happened. I guess they respected my point of view, that's all.
cirerita, you're right, I am playing Devil's Advocate, similar to your post re:bukmyths. I guess I'm just covering all bases. :cool:
These essays don't alter my opinion of Buk in any way. Nor do they diminish the fact that he was a very talented writer. (Would it really matter that much if he wrote other people's anecdotes into his works?) I didn't find much jealousy or pettiness in the first essay. It was coherent and had a point. However, the second one was nothing but a rambling, incoherent rant punctuated with nonsensical statements and replete with grammatical errors. You could just tell that the author thought he was one clever fuck when he wrote that.
To wit: "A late entry in the hilarity stakes appeared yesterday when I received an answer machine message from said little poet" What the fuck does that even mean? I highly doubt that Buk would have bothered to call "Furball" or that he had ever heard of them. I find it hilarious when a talentless, unknown writer tries to suggest that he is on equalfooting with, or is even superior to, one of the most influential writers of this century.
That first 'essay' refers to Allen Strange, who Bukowski readily admitted to writing about in 'The Charles Bukowski Tapes' : chapter 38. Bukowski also dedicated 'Fire Station' to him.

Number 38 on Google Video.
fancyladd said:
These essays don't alter my opinion of Buk in any way.
The important thing is the writing, not Buk's complex/difficult/touchy/sensitive/strong or whatever you wanna call his personality. I know plenty of "difficult" ppl who can't write. None of these cheap ramblings take the trouble of looking at the poems thy call mediocre. That takes insight and hard work. Sure Buke had a myth surrounding him, all writers do, lots of (most) ppl are more interested in fame than poetry. Thats OK. And sure, lots of young readers adore Buk for his rebellious, wild man, kick ass, womanizing boozer's tone, and not really for his writing. Thats OK. But thing is: Bukowski also has enormous qualities as a poet. The problem lots of ppl have with him is that they think his fame is purely myth-fueled, and this misconception causes envy/irritation. Thats OK too, an understandable mistake, in my opinion.

My experience is that the poems have enormous staying-power. As I've grown older and more qualified (;)) as a reader, its been fascinating to discover that the poems grow on you. These lasting qualities are easy to overlook because of the myth, the sometimes "dirty" language, and the easy flow of the line. And yes, lots of hopeless poems have been written by wanna-be "poets" because The Buk made it look so easy. It ain't. It was for him (don't try) but it ain't for all of us (don't try). But hey! I can do plenty of things he couldn't, and anyway: I have a "real nice" personality...

Maybe we should start a thread that looks at the poems more in depth. But that would take hard work & insight...

Erik said:
The problem lots of ppl have with him is that they think his fame is purely myth-fueled, and this misconception causes envy/irritation.
You hit the nail on the head there.
'his fame is purely myth-fueled'

You make great points here Erik. But wasn't necessarily concenred with fame as poetry...but yet bizzarely...he is probably one of the most 'media known' poet...I think he is one of the most videoed poets of time. Searching for video on almost any poet will not bring up the same results.

You say Buk makes it look easy - it's not: That is soo true. He is consistent. Consistent throughout the years...this lends him a lot of integrity.

I love the guy - the writing! So many folk confuse the two, there is some reason in this, but generally, we are looking ta the words and not the man.
Olaf said:
...but yet bizzarely...he is probably one of the most 'media known' poet...
Yeah, and just like Kafka (here in Europe at least) his name is turning into an adjective in the language. Just do a search for the word "bukowskian" on the net and you'll see what I mean. Very few authors have this happen to their name. Can only think of Kafka & Buk just now... any others?
Sure all these writers have become very well known.

But in terms of media coverage it seems Bukowski has a monopoly...i.e. in terms of LIVE footage, film, dvd, video, tape, CD. This isn't a bad thing, it is just a specific feature of Bukowski...You won't find as much film about any other poet or writer per se.

O, came across this, not a criticism at all but another little highlight:

'Without a doubt, Chinaski is certainly a version of Bukowski, and they do overlap, but they are independent of each other.

For example, the fact that Charles Bukowski, the author, was an intense and prolific letter writer, corresponding on a regular basis with many different people, and that he personally answered nearly all mail directed toward him, contrasts greatly with the image of Henry Chinaski, the disenfranchised outsider, fiercely independent.

Also, the narrator of the poems, and also the narrator of the shorter stories, seems a somewhat different person than the Chinaski of Post Office.'

- exceprt from - in part from 'Half-truth Magazine'

Hey, no one is one dimensional (well....maybe God)
Beyond The Criticism Of Malice

....So many people want their Idols to be Untouchable...

I happen to believe that a true idol is someone whose life you embrace just as much for his faults as for his virtues, and you can eventually see his faults if you go sufficiently into his life. (Some of Bukowski's legitimate shortcomings have been discussed in other threads.)

The problem with both of these "myth breaking" hatchet jobs is that the best they can do on the upside is to say that Bukowski wrote about his life, though they mostly believe it to be total fiction"”"well." Neither sees him as the literary genius he was; consequently they feel betrayed by the writings of a man they have little understanding or appreciation of in the first place.

The only valid criticism I find of value are those that come from love; it's only in this fashion, I do be believe, that one's short-comings can be viewed in perspective and not in malice. For this reason, I find most literary criticism a complete waste of time, and the critics end up revealing more about themselves than about a writer they appear to secretly despise. If either of them had said something like, "This genius son of a bitch was a thoroughly convincing liar," I might have been interested in what they had to say. But then again, how many friends do you always have around you if you are essentially a loner and going through a bad patch for a number of years? Bukowski: "Hey Red (or whomever), I feel like applying for a shit job today at the employment office and there may be some guys from skid row there I can write about later. . . Feel like comin' along so you can document this for some of my ignorate, knuckle-headed critics in 20 or 30 years?"

No one has ever claimed, even Bukowski himself, that everything he put down on the printed page was literal truth. But that poverty was unknown to him, truly hard times, etc., I find hard to believe for even a hot minute. There was too much force behind his words for there not to be mostly the passion of real events behind them. . . . Poptop
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Buk was simply a kick ass writer. He is not an idol. He is a man. I'm sure he'd agree. He wrote about things close to his heart, and I like hearing raw honest shit. I don't care if that means beer shits, or Nietzsche's over-man, or David Sedaris talking about being gay as a young kid, or Harpo Marx finally getting pissed at Woolcott. I want to hear each writer's story. It's not Hank's lifestyle I celebrate, it's his honesty and originality. It's the fact that he's laying it down as he sees it. Granted, it does help that his writing resembles, not necessarly my life, but the lives of many people close to me from birth. Sometimes mine. Perhaps people need to worry less about the tastes of others all together. They might find that in their newly acquired spare time, they could find their own Bukowski or whoever the damn hell tickles their buttholes.
And let's just face it, he's an awesome story teller. In literature, it doesnt matter if the story is fiction or true, as long as you can feel the brunt of the message. Truth is better left to journalists. Same kind of situation happened to Hemingway- they were writers, they were poets. They interwove experience and I doubt that they were bragging. Which appears to be the crux of the criticism laid down upon them: their literature is just them bragging about things that didnt happen. While fans would argue that their literature is them exposing and commenting upon society and humanity.
But in the end, you're only as good as you're work. Buk's job as a writer was to produce literature, he did, he was a very hard worker and all of us here believe that he excelled at his job.
Buk was simply a kick ass writer. He is not an idol. He is a man.

This is spot on. When you read Bukowski the 'main' thing is you 'read' he was a man. It almost felt like he was the first writer to 'write with his guard down' to write without the pretense of being a writer...but more so being a guy who used writing to elevate himself.

Obviously, he could actually write very well...but when you read it there is not the abyss there often is with other writers stuffed behind 'artifice' and 'intellect'.

It's like a sincere creative story conversation as well as the most poetic sense.

Write like the man or woman you are...
The world needs a lot more 'cutting through the bullshit'. ;)

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