Amber O'Neil - Blowing My Hero (1 Viewer)

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Well, you don't expect to be a character in a book just because you visit a writer...
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One time I remember reading that Truman Capote made the mistake of writing about the "ladies who lunch" crowd that he had made friends with.
Their response was to shut him out, blacklist him, hurt him. They could do that because they had tremendous wealth and power. Speaking only for myself, I have never had that power. There was no way to defend myself.
I was drawn to this man, not because I was a young woman on top of the world...I was drawn to his pain just like many people are, because of my own pain. It hurt, without comparison, to read about myself that way, even if it was a caricature.
This forum has been one of the few places in 30 years that I have found a place to talk about this with people who are somewhat interested. So few of us have the talent and skill to put our sadness out there for the world to see, as he did. I have appreciated this forum immensely as a place to share. I'm a little afraid to post now for fear of the "looking for fame" angle that Erik mentioned. Believe me, I am completely aware that I am a very very minor figure in the life of Gramps. He just happened to like my first ietter to him enough not to throw in the wastebasket! With special thanks to MJP for the hard work he has put in to pull this forum together.
The first situation should be unnecessary, few people will be able to identify them. (Still they feel compelled to identify themselves - is the lure of fame still at work here?)
Few people outside of this site maybe, but there are discussions of which real person is which character for both Women and Hollywood here, and anyone who saw Amber in the extras of Born Into This knows who she is.

To say they are anonymous in the grand scheme of things may be true, to say they are anonymous to people who have a deeper than normal interest in Bukowski is not. And who else would care about what he wrote in Women?

I have appreciated this forum immensely as a place to share. I'm a little afraid to post now for fear of the "looking for fame" angle that Erik mentioned. Believe me, I am completely aware that I am a very very minor figure in the life of Gramps. He just happened to like my first ietter to him enough not to throw in the wastebasket!
The beauty and drawback of a public forum is that people like you can provide us with great personal memories, but when you do you are open to the response which is unpredictable, and can be harsh.

There isn't any parallel experience in real life, because in real life people will rarely say anything really insulting to your face. Those who do are rare, and most people don't particularly want to be around them.

But a forum like this can't really function if it is censored either, so we have to let people express their opinions, good or bad. You have to grow a thick skin when you put yourself out there in these kinds of places. Otherwise it can be a traumatic experience.

I guess what I'm trying to say is, keep posting and don't worry about less-than-favorable feedback. What you have to say is valuable, as David pointed out. First hand experience is something that few people are willing to share. Keep sharing.
I guess what I'm trying to say is, keep posting and don't worry about less-than-favorable feedback. What you have to say is valuable, as David pointed out. First hand experience is something that few people are willing to share. Keep sharing.

I couldn't agree more! - Keep posting Amber...
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This is so interesting! Amber, you are very articulate; and I wish I had not stayed away for so long. I welcome opinions; and you are so right, MJP. I don't feel hurt and sorrow for what happened at all - well, when it first happened, sure. Then I put it all in a box and forgot about it. When I found all the letters a couple of years ago, it made me remember everything. I was not upset by the end of this (?) relationship with Hank. I was 25 years old and rarin' to go. You know? But, yes, I felt humiliated and disgusted by what he said that wasn't true (sorry, but it wasn't his perception, it was a lie) especially after he had captured some very real things about me. I actually liked the first part of it. The reason I wrote that he could not perform was not to have a rapt audience, but to, well, explain that he couldn't possibly say what he said about me with any knowledge since NOTHING was able to happen! Yes, it's defensive. God, I've wanted to say all that I've written here for 30 years. It's like being accused of a crime and you know you're innocent. I'm an Unknown in his life and I thank God for that. Only a few friends know and you guys, and it's all OK, whatever you think or say. Even if you completely disagree with me. Because we are a little group here and we're specific, and it's so cool to be able to speak about him. It blows me away how much you all know about him. I feel very grateful to be a part of this.
Mystery Girl, your spunk and honesty are very much appreciated. You have every right to be extremely pissed off at what was written about you, if it is the passage I am thinking of. I remember at the time thinking, "holy smokes, this is COMPLETELY uncalled for." And, I didn't believe a word of it. I'm proud of you for your responses here. In the long run, I hope this helps both of us, as well as adds something to this forum! My daughter says, "Mom, why can't you join a forum about planting crocuses in Berkeley!" Given my less than thick skin, maybe she's right! Take care, and I'm so happy you have written.
Amber and mystery girl- I must say I appreciate your contributions to this thread and the added depth to the work of Bukowski (at least WOMEN and associated poems).

But I must say, I have been lurking here for a while and am confused as to your concerns...are you really so appalled at being characters (or caricatures) in a novel, a work of fiction? Isn't it clear in most, if not all of his work he has taken elements of his life and expanded, extrapolated and fictionalized on?

Why does his depiction of you as different from life characters cause you such angst, especially years later? So his characterization of your encounters are not true to life? Does this really bother you?

I am not trying to be mean, I am merely trying to understand your concern.

A fictionalized representation of me would merely draw a laugh from myself, no matter the deprevity of the characterization. So Bukowski presented you other than as you saw yourself? What is the big deal? I have a couple of ex-wifes that would just as distinctly represent me in a bad light. So what? If they did so in a publish work in which I was indistinguishable as an individual except to myself I would only laugh.

Is your indignation perhaps rather a wrongly perceived valuation of your own experience? Did you perhaps conceive of your experiences in a manner that was not supported by Bukowski? Perhaps even challenged by his fictionalized presentations?

Once again, I do not mean to insult. Only to wonder why his representation of your encounters bothers you. So he presented characters that, while based on you, are not real? Again, so what?

Had you not self-identified yourselves here or elsewhere (especially you Amber), none would be the wiser. I assumed, prior to this thread and others in this forum, that the women in that novel were not real, but merely constructs and montages of encounters he had had. I still believe that. It was a work of fiction, after all.

Your indignation and concern seems to be rather an affront you feel toward his lack of valid recognition of your character. But then, he had no interest in doing so. Perhaps you had such an interest. I can not say, nor do I wish to speculate.

I am merely asking.
Come on, cheapGin,
talking about EMOTIONS, HURT FEELINGS, etc you cannot claim for objectivity. I think it is fully understandable, that, when you go, meet you 'literary hero', spend time with him, and then find yourself described by him in a way, that shows all things way different from what you where expereriencing/thinking/feeling about it - this DOES hurt!

sure, on the other hand, you're right mentioning, that becoming part of a literary work ('work of fiction'), should help you see it under this different viewpoint. As I said before, it was at least due to dramaturgic reasons, he 'had' to make some things up.

Still, I see the point of the person, who's painted this way.

Amber, Mysty, I am, like we all are, so happy you are here and talk firsthand of your experiences!

(Sure, becoming part of an author's work is no new problem. Amber already mentioned the troubles Capote had. We all know, Hem caused A LOT of these troubles, so did Shakespeare, so did Aristophanes - and that's twoandahalf millenniums ago. Dealing with artists will always result in such things. They take a part of our world and create something new... - and to cheapGin: I'd rather be painted by an artist than by some of my ex-girlfriends. So, maybe you're the one of us, with the most guts.)
Something to bear in mind: being criticised, ridiculed, embarassed, attacked (whichever it happens to be) in public, in print, is much more painful than when it's done in private. And it doesn't go away. You may get over the hurt but the thing that makes you feel wronged is out there forever, and comes back to remind you over and over. If that hasn't happened to you, you really can't imagine what it feels like. It's overwhelming. What may sound like whining is really just someone seeking some measure of justice and validation.
First of all, Amber and Mystery girl I DO APPRECIATE your contributions here. I find your input to this forum, your unique experiences and your abilities to express these very interesting.

And I realize that there are indeed strong emotions involved. I believe Amber, you previously expressed the feelings involved in meeting a 'hero' of yours. I can also understand, perhaps, some of your emotions involved in the encounter, especially as it seemed, at least to Mystery girl, to be disappointing in not living up to the anticipation of his work and private letters.

What I am confused about is the feelings of betrayal from the artist in his creations. I am sure you all have read more of his work than I. You had likely read more prior to meeting him years ago than I have now. If I had had the opportunity to meet the man I would have done so KNOWING he has a tendancy to write on his experiences and EXPAND and CREATE on them.

Hell, I would have been honored to end up a silly, bloated, hardly recognizable caricature of myself in even a poem of his. And regardless of the poor light it cast me in I would still BRAG about it.

And Roni, this is my inquiry into WHY the hurt feelings and emotions. I do not understand them. I could understand if these feelings came from one that had been involved in an intimate relationship with Bukowski, either social or emotional, and felt her feelings had been scourged by the author, but if I am not mistaken neither Amber nor Mystery girl had more than a few days of actual contact with the man.

To be honest, and now I am merely speculating, it almost seems to be residual disappointment at having been originally disappointed in the reality of meeting their 'hero.' And then frustration at having their disappointment turned on its head when he caricatured them in print.

Once again, I mean no disrespect. I just find this all confusing.
Ah, Cheap Gin, somehow I doubt that you find all this confusing. What I think you are saying is, "you silly, stupid women, what did you expect." Well, what does anyone expect or hope when you connect with another human being? After hours of talking and laughing on the phone for weeks, after many beautiful letters, after repeated invitations to visit, one might just hope for a genuine relationship. It is called courtship. Truthfully, I was never disappointed with my visit. As I have said on this thread, Gramps B treated me with a great deal of kindness and gentleness. I would have to be a person with a shell of iron not to have been hurt when his book came out. Pain cannot be explained, fellow. It doesn't have to be rational, it doesn't have to make sense to you. It just is. I suspect that he knew very well that this book would hurt people. But, he was human. He wanted a hit book just like anyone else. And that desire was greater than trying not to hurt people.

Yes, speaking for myself, I was a foolish person.
He wanted a hit book just like anyone else. And that desire was greater than trying not to hurt people.

Amber, do you believe that? That Bukowski wanted a 'hit book'? Because it seems that his motivation for writing anything was a sort of self-therapy much more than a process of creating art, even less a desire for success.

I do not doubt that you were poorly represented in 'Women' but I do not think that Bukowski set out to do you or mystery girl any harm. More likely that he did not consider anything other than writing a book to somehow help him survive that time when he was some how becoming a success - a star almost - despite his obvious and self-admitted failings.

As John Bryan said:
Charles Bukowski was a great writer and a lousy human being.
More than anyone he met and anyone on this forum, I suspect that Bukowski knew this best.
Cheap Gin, I have to answer even though Amber stated it beautifully. I get the feeling you think that I and she went flying to him, begging, praising, etc. He did give off this vibe. He was so open to women, he immediately became the suitor after I called him. That was my first and last act of agression. There was way more than just a few days. There was being awakened at 2:00 AM by his giddy and drunken phone calls, and we did a hell of a lot of just talking. The letters were awesome - he was kind, worried, excited, sweet and in love/lust, whatever. I liked him very much and may have called it love at the time. But he was not the man of my dreams. I had my little voice inside saying; this may turn out not nice. But youth prevailed. I just really loved his words, stories, his wonderful crisp and masculine voice; his delicious and decadent sense of humor. But it was too good of a friendship, almost, to make it be lovers in the park. But his whole being seemed to be telling me that was kind of what he wanted. I do think, now, that he must have been like that with any new woman, perhaps, but I do not think he was doing research per se, but yeah, there was in the back of my mind that he might write something about me someday. I didn't worry about it or hope for it. Even several months after the trip he wrote me again and I talked with him one last time on a pay phone (I don't know why I was in a phone booth - ?? the years have taken some details away) HE wanted to start something up again. I wished him the very best and said no thanks. Yet he wrote me that he had given ME a gentle let down! That was typical of him I guess.

What makes me hurt about what he wrote and you wouldn't give care if he smeared your name from here to East Jabib? Because, friend, you are a man and I am a woman. We want to be loved tenderly and remembered fondly, especially in front of a large audience, for pete's sake. How old are you, any way?

I read his stuff and met him when he was still wearing his old man clothes and living in a bungalow on Carlton Ave. He wasn't exactly well recognized. Most of my friends at that time had never even heard of him. Now, my college-age son knew who he was before I ever told him anything about my excellent adventure. You have a lot of questions but I think you understand more than you are willing to reveal. I am not a victim, of course. It was all so exciting at the time. But I was punched in the gut with the story and I'll never rationalize away why he did such a wicked thing.
Amber and Mystery girl...THANK YOU for your honest and thoughtful answers. By the way Mysty, I believe you do not credit your ability to express yourself properly. Wonderful response.

You have quite nicely filled out my understanding of the situations involved. I must admit, from his work and your earlier posts (or my understanding of them, anyway) I had the impression that the relationship was considerably less involved than what you indicate now. Especially your involvement Mysty, I can appreciate the extended interaction between you and Bukowski and the vulnerability you might have felt following such an encounter that was then scourged by his crassitude. Or at least why you might feel that way.

I never intended these questions as an attack. I was honestly confused as to why, as Amber might indicate, "you silly little women," may have launched yourselves into such a chaotic encounter not expecting some such result. This was because I had the incorrect impression that your involvements and interactions with him were considerably shorter and less involved (I admit to never even having seen your work Amber). I now realize my mistake.

And yes, Mysty, I am a man, a rather jaded and cynical one that has experienced numerous emotionally difficult situations in his life and perhaps was unable to empathize fully as my vision was blocked by my scarred lens...

Although I must say I rather agree with Hank Solo in that I think the resulting work was less an aimed attack or an attempt at a 'hit' than an effort in self-exploration, self-analysis, and down-right literary expansion. I thought of all the characters in that work, Bukowski came out looking by far the worst. And as I have mentioned elsewhere in this forum, it was by far my least favorite work of his I have read to date. That is due to the sense of self-disgust running throughout. It was terribly painful to read, primarily due to my realization it was highly fabricated in an attempt to scour his own frustrations. But instead of embracing these pains he seemed to be running away from them by exaggeration.

Anyway, THANK YOU again. I do believe this is one of the more interesting threads I have ever read in any forum. Your insights, understandings, and particularly your willingness to share these is very much appreciated.
For sure, I believe that Bukowski wanted a "hit." Of course, he wrote as a form of self therapy. But, I think of him as similar to comedians who often work from a place of pain also.
They need recognition, they need an audience. So did he! He sent out his work for publication for a reason. He too needed, and later on, relished in having a fan base, in spite of all his protestations. And, with Women, well, who wouldn't want to read that one! That was his venture into the National Enquirer of fine literature....steamy, sexual, often times mean. (I'm ducking, I'm ducking!)

Mystery, the more I think about it, I think he might have been very intimidated by your prettiness. That might explain some of his behavior during the visit. Deep in his heart, he wanted to date a prom queen. He wanted to be popular. Those things that were so missing from his youth. Then, when face to face with such a person, he might have been scared.
Afterwards, just like an adolescent, he had to "get back" with crude locker room remarks. I don't know if that helps, but that's my woman to woman feeling!

As for me, believe me, he was never threatened! Our story was a 'like' story, not a love story. What could he do with a young woman who insisted on wearing her favorite flannel nightgown each night! I said to him, "Look, I told you I didn't want to visit. Now I'm in your territory, you have the upper hand, and I'm scared. I need this nightgown!" He kept inviting me down, kept inviting me down, until finally he said, "Look, you're beginning to sound like Lenny Bruce, ..I can't come, I can't come...I think you're afraid!" Of course, that challenge got me down there! Anyway, he continued to write me also, UNTIL Women came out.
He knew he would be in trouble. He was not innocent, you guys!
But, I think of him as similar to comedians who often work from a place of pain also. They need recognition, they need an audience. So did he!

Anyway, he continued to write me also, UNTIL Women came out.
He knew he would be in trouble.
He said in many letters that he expected Women to ruffle a lot of feathers. He knew exactly what he was doing.
OK now it makes more sense...I must retract my dislike for Miss Amber Tanya. I must overcome my dyslexia and spell author. Mostly I must aknowledge I remember Amber from the deleted scenes ( she is nice looking and I did feel it was important that she was shown) and I better understand why she is important on this She is nice looking and Hank was lucky....again.
Great thread.

Here it comes for the 1000th time: Thank you very much, Amber and mystery girl. You made my day, which started way to early this morning.

Thank you.
It came in the mail today, just like mjp said, long after I'd forgotten it would. A nice, surgical job of excising the offending letters, Amber. Thanks for signing the book. I haven't read it yet (yard work, family duties) but I will, and soon. Can't wait.
Wow, the interesting people that find their way into this forum amazes me every time. This is the place for Buk appreciators indeed.
sfchinaski - I believe everyone in this thread has died of old age. Except for mjp. You have to write LIKE THIS so he can read it. Good luck with your quest.
Amber if you have any copies left. Please let me know. If there are an excerpts online, I would appreciate any info. Just finished Women for the 3rd time. I liked the Tanya part. I especially thought the part in the airport when she arrives as well as the part with the BJ where he goes into his "beach fantasy" to be quite funny and well done. I'd love to read Amber's perspective on it. So I'll keep trying to find a copy.
I was going to say that Amber doesn't log in very often, but I see that she was here a few days before you posted. Even if she reads this I don't think she's going to sell you a copy of the book (and if she does it will have several pages of letters removed). You might be better off trying to buy one out in the wild somewhere.
Glad I got my copy. It's excellent. Some day I hope to see the letters that she removed from the copies she sold a while back.
I'm not interested in reading the letters as much as reading about the other side of the story. When I read The Sun Also Rises, and then I read about "The real story" or back story of where and how that novel came to pass, and the reactions of several key characters in it to what Hemingway wrote. I would find it very interesting to read the other point of view. Thanks for all the input.
I'm sure that it has been mentioned, but it is worth picking up a copy of Pam "Cupcakes" Wood's Charles Bukowski's Scarlet
. It is well worth the read and will give you another look at her, from her side. I do not know if this will go into a second printing, but I hear that the sales are doing VERY well. Get it while you can.

[...] If there are any excerpts [...], I would appreciate any info.

The 2007-yearbook of the Bukowski-Society had an excerpt, which was pretty much 3/4 of Amber's book.

The English section of this yearbook also contained an article by Abel Debritto about Bukowski's letters, one by Gerald Locklin about a Bukowski-event at The Huntington and a book-review by Robert Sandarg.

It's still available, but I fear if you don't live inside Europe, the shipping cost will eat up your benefit.
Amber - I've spent more years than I care to count searching high and low for a copy of Blowing My Hero. I'd be eternally grateful if you would let me purchase a copy off of you. If not, well, let the search continue!
Just for anyone new coming into this thread, copies of Blowing My Hero are not available here any longer. There was a one-time sale of copies of the book with the Bukowski letters removed, but that one-time sale happened a long time ago, sorry. Asking Amber to send or sell one to you is not likely to get a response, so you might want to look for a copy elsewhere. You'll pay more, but you'll probably get a copy with the letters pages intact.

If you are looking for the Bukowski Society yearbook with the excerpt from the book, check Roni's web site, or contact him for more information.
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