barry miles' Buk bio

cirerita

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me. not bad, quite better than Audrey Malone's one. there are a few slips here and there (probably because he didn't research enough, but nothing really important, just little details).
if you've read Cherkovsky's and Sounes', then you won't learn anything new. of course, Miles knows how to write and the writing has a nice beat to it.
I think Baughan's bio was as good as this one.
 

mjp

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I read the Miles bio, but I can't even remember it, so it must not have stood out of the crowd.

Of the recent bios I thought Ben Pleasants' Visceral Bukowski was a good read. He seemed a bit hung up on hammering home the "Bukowski was a Nazi" point, which I think would have made just as much of an impact without attempting to sensationalize it.

Jory Sherman also wrote a decent (short) bio, Bukowski: Friendship, Fame & Bestial Myth. Hard to find (small run published in 1981), but it shows up on ebay now and then.

The one I really look forward to is Linda King's Loving and Hating Charles Bukowski, which is supposed to come out this year.

Maybe Linda Bukowski will write a book of her own on day? Now that would be a read...

cirerita said:
Baughan's bio
I'm not familiar with this one...details?

Okay, I looked it up - this is the Gay Brewer book? I guess I missed Baughan's name on that.
 

cirerita

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nope, Brewer only wrote the foreword.

"Charles Bukowski," Michael Gray Baughan. Chelsea House Publishers, 2004. It's kind of expensive because it's hardcover -there's no paperback, as far as I know. Got mine from Amazon.
It's a well-documented bio with acceptable doses of academic jargon. nice reading. and thankfully short.

pleasants' book disappointed me. I expected more powerful stories, but I found most of them pretty lame. I know he can do better, just take a look at the things he wrote in the 70's.

The one I really look forward to is Linda King's Loving and Hating Charles Bukowski, which is supposed to come out this year.
speaking of which, I hope she includes some of the (unpublished as of yet) letters she wrote to B. some of them are so hot they burn! talk about explicit sexual content!
 

hank solo

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Barry Miles

Is this the same Barry Miles who was responsible for the audio recordings that became the double CD "At Terror Street and Agony Way" {King Mob, 1998}
 

mjp

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hank solo said:
...the double CD "At Terror Street and Agony Way"
I haven't heard that, but isn't it just a remix of the New Orleans tapes (drawing a blank on what the name of the publication was)?
 

hank solo

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At Terror Street and Agony Way, a 2 CD set from King Mob

Well, I'm just going by the notes and the credit in the CD booklet.

I've tried to pick up all the commercially available reading/audio CD, and this one is a peach, if only for Fire Station, which is, as you'll know, classic. In fact, I wish Hamer had added it as an episode in his Factotum movie... Still...

"For Research Purposes"...

At Terror Street and Agony Way, a 2 CD set from King Mob

"Track listing"

"CD 1"

1. One For Ging With Klux-Top [3.42]
2. A Trainride In Hell [8.56]
3. Ignus Fatuus [7.16]
4. Yellow [2.16]
5. The Coloured Birds [3.29]
6. From The Department Of English [1.43]
7. The Underground [2.14]
8. Fire Station [7.30]
9. Birth [3.23]
10. No Lady Godiva [1.50]
11. Don't Come Around [2.41]
12. Number Six [1.18]
13. They, All Of Them Know [6.45]
14. Flyleaf [0.53]
15. The Tragedy Of The Leaves [1.48]
16. I Cannot Stand Tears [1.03]
17. A Real Thing, A Good Woman [1.55]
18. Man ln The Sun [1.34]
19. One Hundred And Ninety Nine Pounds Of Clay [2.42]

Disc 1 running time: 63.59

"CD 2"

1. The State Of World Affairs [2.39]
2. Winter Comes [1.48]
3. No Charge [0.41]
4. A Literary Romance [3.14]
5. The Twins [3.30]
6. Regard Me [2.22]
7. Love Is A Piece Of Paper Torn To Bits [0.50]
8. Going For Sadists [2.08]
9. Sundays Kill More Men [4.25]
10. A 350 Dollar Whore [4.02]
11. A Shot Of Red Eye [6.26]
12. Beerbottle [2.19]
13. KO [1.01]
14. Seventh Race [3.35]
15. On Going Out To Get The Mail [2.54]
16. I Wanted To Overthrow The Government [6.40]
17. 35 Seconds [2.23]
18. True Story [1.51]
19. Sour Ghost [0.44]
20. The Weather Is Hot On The Back Of My Watch [4.43]
21. Migrants/John Dillinger [7.49]

Disc 2 running time: 67.11


"Credits"

Produced by Barry Miles.
Recorded at Charles Bukowski's house, De Longpre Avenue, Los Angeles, in January, 1969 on an Ampex 3000.
Mastered by Dennis Blackham, London June 1993.
Thanks to John Martin, Pat Slattery, Valerie Estes.


"Sleeve Notes"

These tapes are the result of an abandoned, but not forgotten, recording project I began in 1968 about which the less said the better. I had been an admirer of Buk's work since 1965 and finally had a chance to record him. So it was in February 1969 I pulled up at 5125 1/2 De Longpre Avenue in a slummy part of East Hollywood near the 20th Century Fox Studios on Sunset in a rented green Mustang which looked gleamingly conspicuous in the shabby street. Slums in Los Angeles are not like those of other cities. During the Watts riots a few years before, the foreign press had driven straight through Watts looking for the slum because to European eyes these are reasonable houses: everyone seems to have a large car and a television, it's always sunny and there are palm trees lining the streets. It is not the South Bronx, it is only a slum in contrast.

De Longpre was made from large slabs of concrete, chipped at the edges, lined with utility cables and tall scruffy palms, some of which had died and rotted. The single storey wooden frame houses had peeling paint and there were holes in the screen doors. Bits of cars lay in front yards and rubbish blew about. A '57 Plymouth was parked on the ruins of Buk's front lawn. Beercans overflowed his garbage bins.

The screen door opened straight into his living room. The shades were drawn. Rickety bookshelves were overloaded with books, magazines, old newspapers and racing forms. The settee had a hole where the stuffing was bursting out. There was a pile of car tires in the corner and many empty beer cans, and in another corner was Buk's desk. Here was Buk's typewriter: a prewar, battered, sit-up-and-beg, black cast-iron Remington: dusty but for the carriage and keys which were polished by use, surrounded by cigar butts and ash, crumpled paper, extinct beercans. Hundreds, perhaps thousands of poems had emerged from that old machine; countless stories, columns for Open City, the local underground newspaper which had been running his "Notes Of A Dirty Old Man" column since May 1967, and letters to every little mimeographed poetry magazine editor who contacted him, from Germany to Japan, mid-west farm-boys to slick New Yorkers - hundreds and hundreds of them.

Bukowski seemed happy to see us, (I had my assistant Pat Slattery with me), but immediately after finding seats for us he was off, slipping like a shadow through the door, across the porch and away. Soon to return with another 6-pack. Now he had a smile on his face and a bottle of Miller Light in his hand. He found a glass for Pat in the messy kitchen in back, talked about the race-track and about his publisher John Martin, from the Black Sparrow Press, about little poetry magazines and his worries and fears about trying to make it as a professional poet. Essex House, the pornographic book publishers, had just released a collection of his pieces from Open City, called Notes Of A Dirty Old Man as a mass market paperback, (or as mass market as a company that published books with titles like Thongs was likely to get) and he was encouraged by this latest development.

We talked about the record. He was casual, relaxed and said that he had made a lot of home recordings before: "Sure, just show me how the machine works and come back in a few days. I'll just curl up on the rug with some packs of beer, my books, turn on the machine and..." I wired up an Ampex 3000, arranged a microphone stand and microphone, headphones and 12 reels of blank tape. He refused to allow me, or anyone else, to be present to supervise the recording, claiming to be too shy. Some of the problems he had with the equipment are spelled out in his between track comments on these CDs, most of them caused by his attempt to record on "both sides" of the tape which wiped what he had previously recorded.

Nine days later my assistant from San Francisco, Valerie Estes, and I pulled up in a blue rented Mustang. Buk was there, a bit hung-over, and so was a woman, middleaged, wearing black fishnet stockings and a black slip. She disappeared into the bedroom without speaking, emerging some time later ready to leave, looking tired and worn. Buk crushed some notes into
her hand. "Carfare" he said, as much to me as to her. Nothing in the room had changed. The Ampex was where I had left it but it was done; every reel was filled with Buk's careful selection from his writing - six hours of his favourite pieces. He said to be sure to listen to the one called "The Firestation" as he liked that best of all. Then he fold us a long story about his '57 Plymouth and about his landlord, flirted with Valerie, and eventually we got everything packed up and he helped carry it out to the car. A few days later, at the end of February 1969, Pat Slattery came by with a photographer and took the photographs you see here.

I agree with Buk that "Firestation" is the best track, because it has that mixture of tenderness and toughness, understanding and acceptance which characterise his Buk's best work. I really like these tapes because they were recorded before he became a "professional" writer. He had made a few tapes before, but these still have the conversational quality of someone who had not yet read his work in public. There is no attempt at performance other than getting the poem across. It happened that this was a turning point in his career. A few weeks after making this recording he gave his first poetry reading. A year later, on January 2, 1970, at the age of 49, he finally quit his job at the post office and devoted himself full time to writing. He couldn't get away from the post office, however; it became the subject of his first novel, called, unsurprisingly, Post Office published by Black Sparrow in February 1971.

Most people discovered Buk through the novels; Post Office, Factotum (1975) and Women (1978) with their gritty, erotic, uncompromising and above all, honest, portrayal of life at the bottom. They are in the tradition of Jack Black's You Can't Win or John Fante's three volume saga of Arturo Bandini (a major influence on Buk). His work stands alongside William Burroughs' Junky, Herbert Huncke's Guilty of Everything, the humour of Lenny Bruce, the growled vocals of Tom Waits, solos by Chet Baker or Art Pepper, the Beats and the deadbeats, the drop-outs and the freaks; white American males living in the underside of society, telling their experience with compassion and humour.

Bukowski started afresh, made a new life, got a new wife, began to drink fine wines instead of six-packs. He left deLongpre. He gave readings on smart college campuses and his books appeared in signed limited editions with paintings by him on the half-title. In 1987 Hollywood released the movie Barfly with a screenplay by Buk. His experiences working in tinseltown, which he didn't particularly enjoy, were recorded in Hollywood. He is still writing. He is doing
all right.
Miles, London, 1993
 

mjp

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Well, that's definitely not the NOLA tapes I was thinking of. Sounds good, but doesn't look like it's available anywhere at the moment...
 

hoochmonkey9

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mjp said:
Jory Sherman also wrote a decent (short) bio, Bukowski: Friendship, Fame & Bestial Myth. Hard to find (small run published in 1981), but it shows up on ebay now and then.
just picked this one up and completely enjoyed it. Slim, yes, but a very perceptive take on Buk and his own myth-building.
Recommended.
 

Brother Schenker

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Barry Miles Bio on Buk

Just finished the Miles bio...
I can understand why mjp can remember nothing special about it.
It's like reading Sounes' bio but without the photos.
Same significant points in the timeline & narrative unfolding.

Doesn't seem to have gone beyond Sounes' research.
Miles must've started it before Sounes but lost the race.
Should've waited a few more years for more people to come out
of the woodwork and talk/write openly about their relationships with
Buk.

The writing is good, in fact, damn fine.
I don't mind the ocassional short jumps back in the chronology of events (someone on Amazon complained of this). But as a bio it is hardly different than the Sounes' one...and you wonder why the fuck he didn't include a single photo. He takes credit for the semi-obscured photos on the dust jacket...why didn't he just put 'em in the book??

I redd the entire thing because it was nice to revisit the destiny of Bukowski.
If you've not redd the Sounes bio and you see this Miles one at the library,then by all means pick it up.
It reads well...it just would've redd better had I not redd the Sounes one first (and twice at that).
 

mjp

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Damn, I was just in Phoenix last week. Sounds like an interesting show though.

She ought to self-publish if she can't get anyone to put out her book...we could sell them here. ;) A place like lulu.com can do print on demand publishing...

It would be a shame for that memoir to go unpublished.
 
The shame is that she would be unable to include any material such as letters, notes etc. As Martin is quoted , copyright protection applies to even letters. I think the inclusion or not would make a difference to a memoir's feel. After all, most people are more interested in what Bukowski penned with his hair down, than a few meager quotes. http;//www.copyright.gov
 

mjp

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I don't know. Reading his letters is certainly interesting, but there are not (m)any books written by women who were close to him. All of the biographies are written by men, some of them close friends, but they could not know him the way King did. I think a memoir from her would be much more interesting than yet another book of letters.
 

Bukfan

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I was flipping through Miles Buk bio the other day and within 15 min. I found two (minor?) errors.
On page 130 he writes: "His Ginsberg-influenced poem I Shot A Man In Reno...". - but that's a short story (from Erections.../Tales Of Ordinary Madness) and not a poem!
On page 206 he writes: "The story which upset most people was The Fiend...The story caused a good deal of controversy because it was written in the first person". - That's not true! It's written in the third person, not the first. The controversy stems from the subject (of child rape), not from the person it was written in.
If Miles had bothered to check those two stories before he wrote about them, he could have avoided the errors. I wonder how many other errors you could find if you went looking for them. Has anyone else found errors in the bio? And if so, which?
 
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Socratease

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I've just started reading Miles, after having read Sounes. As somebody mentioned earlier, it sometimes reads as though Miles has regurgitated Sounes, without the photos, although Miles does go into more detail on some trivial stuff. However, Sounes has by far the better index.

Also, I find Miles a faster read. I don't know whether that's because I'm going over now familiar territory or that his writing style is more conducive to fast reading. Sounes in his preface says that he deliberately adopted prose style in keeping with Buk's -- I don't know that he succeeded there.

I was flipping through Miles Buk bio the other day and within 15 min. I found two (minor?) errors.
On page 130 he writes: "His Ginsberg-influenced poem I Shot A Man In Reno...". - but that's a short story (from Erections.../Tales Of Ordinary Madness) and not a poem!

On page 206 he writes: "The story which upset most people was The Fiend...The story caused a good deal of controversy because it was written in the first person". - That's not true! It's written in the third person, not the first. The controversy stems from the subject (of child rape), not from the person it was written in.
Mine is a 2009 Virgin/Random House printing and the Miles copyright is dated 2005. I've looked ahead for those references (the first is on p144 and the second is on p228 of my edition) and neither error has been changed from what you noted above.
 
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Bukfan

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Mine is a 2009 Virgin/Random House printing and the Miles copyright is dated 2005. I've looked ahead for those references (the first is on p144 and the second is on p228 of my edition) and neither error has been changed from what you noted above.
I see. Thanks! - Mine is the Virgin hard cover, also copyrighted 2005, and printed in Great Britain. It does'nt say anything about Random House. Maybe yours is a paperback (which often have more pages with less words on each page) ? That could account for the differences in page numbers. My copy is 314 pages long, including the index.
 
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jordan

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i read the first couple chapters of the miles book and gave up, because i didn't like that he used passages from the novels as "evidence." ham on rye is a fictionalized autobiography, not a factual retelling of everything that happened to him in childhood. and plus, why bother writing a biography if you're just going to cite the author's autobiography over and over again. it seemed like a really lazy way to tell the story of bukowski's childhood, to me.
 

Purple Stickpin

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Sometimes I read in a bit of a daze. Miles' bio made me feel odd, and I never quite put my finger on it. Thanks Jordan, for pointing out what should probably have been more obvious to me.
 

Bukfan

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i read the first couple chapters of the miles book and gave up, because i didn't like that he used passages from the novels as "evidence."
Right! Miles did that a lot, not only with the novels but with the poems too. If Buk wrote several poems about a topic or event, then Miles says it must have happened in real life, otherwise Buk would'nt have mentioned it in several poems. Well, that may be, but one can't use such poems as "evidence" in a biography if that's all you got for "facts", but apparently Miles can...
 
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cirerita

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I used 3-4 poems in the dissertation to "illustrate" points I tried to prove using correspondence.

Thing is, there's no such a thing as "evidence" when it comes to the 30s, 40s, and early 50s, save a few letters -and B. could be contradictory in his letters!- and very few surviving documents re. his birth, marriage, etc. Those are the "unverifiable" years. If someone wrote a biography using factual evidence, the 1920-1958 period would not amount to more than 15-20 pages, and there would be quite a bit of "gloss" in those 15-20 pages.
 

Socratease

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Okay, I finished the Miles bio. I'm surprised at how much seems to have been lifted almost verbatim from Sounes. Although there are a few scattered references credited to Sounes, it seems to me many others are not.

The lack of photos is pretty inexcusable. I had to keep referencing Sounes for those.

Okay, now back to my Buk reading list. Next up is Ham on Rye.
 
I'm about 2/3 of the way through this. It's an enjoyable read if mainly because I'm interested in learning more about Bukowski. I like how he relates incidents in his life to some of his poems. But the contradictory nature in which his life is presented makes him that much more mysterious. I don't feel like I'm learning a great deal about The Buk.

Having said that this is the only biography of him that I've read so far.
 

Bukfan

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Really? Then you should read Howard Sounes'Bukowski biography. It's much much better...
 
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Thanks, I'm looking for other Buk bios and I'll definitely will read Stounes book too.
 
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So... I finished reading Howard Sounes book yesterday. I agree, it is much better. It reads like a story, while Barry Miles Buk bio is written more like an encyclopedia.

However I'd still suggest Barry Miles book to anyone. Especially if he/she is going to read it BEFORE Sounes book :)
 
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