Bukowski on Henry Miller (1 Viewer)


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Some collected quotes. Enjoy.

I don't want to become anybody's pet. I know that Henry Miller was good at it. Henry, like the rest of us, hated to work for somebody else; but I hate to be petted by somebody else. Which does not make me a better Artist than Henry Miller, just a different person, and not nearly so famous, thank the gods!

(Screams from the Balcony, p. 92)

If Henry Miller reviews me and it comes out bad, don't worry. I once reviewed Henry Miller. I was in a little bus station in the middle of Texas and some gal who had been ramming her tongue down my throat went into the ladies' room and I walked over to the newsstand with my hair down in my eyes and I bought one of the Cancers, I forget which, and Henry understood that the only way to get to a man was to speak the language of the day, the present tongue, but he got to a part where he talked about a guy with a big cock and how he made it with all the women with THIS BIG COCK, and he went on and on with this and I began getting sleepy and worse...worse than ANYTHING, I got the idea that Henry Miller the ALL-KNOWING didn't know much more about fucking than to talk about it, and that's the way most non-fuckers are.

(Screams from the Balcony, p. 96)

look here, if Henry Miller liked Crucifix that's good enough for me, that's the best critic there is"”a man who has lived that hard that long just can't learn to lie and also has no need to. Christ, Jon and Lou, isn't life really strange??? that a man like Henry Miller would be speaking about all of us? we are truly lucky, we are in touch with the gods, and I am happy for us all.

(Screams from the Balcony, p. 191)

I wrote Henry Miller the other day to twist 15 bucks from a patron of his who promised same if I mailed Henry 3 more Crux [...] anyhow, I was drunk and inferred that Henry shake his patron out of his money tree. the 15 arrived from one source today and the Miller letter from another: partial quote: "I hope you're not drinking yourself to death! and, especially not when you're writing. It's a sure way to kill the source of inspiration. drink only when you're happy if you can. Never to drown your sorrows. and never drink alone!" of course I don't buy any of this. I don't worry about inspiration. when the writing dies, it dies; fuck it. I drink to keep going another day. and I've found that the best way to drink is to drink ALONE. even with a woman and a kid around, I'm drinking alone. can after can laced with a half pint or pint. and I stretch wall to wall in the light, I feel as if I were filled with meat and oranges and burning suns, and the radio plays and I hit the typer maybe and look down at the torn and ink-stained oilcloth on the kitchen table, a kitchen table in hell; a life, not a season in hell; the stink of everything, myself aging; people turning to warts; everything going, sinking, 2 buttons on shirt missing, belly working out; days of dull clubbing work ahead"”hours running around with their heads chopped-off, and I lift the drink I pour in the drink, the only thing to do, and Miller asks me to worry about the source of INSPIRATION?

(Screams from the Balcony, p. 199)

About Henry Miller - print him if it will keep you afloat; he wants the wondrous Loujon format and you can't blame him. you'd like it yourself, for yourself, wouldn't you? Of course, Henry has slipped a few steps down, but he's still a good name and doubt he can ever forget how to write unless they kill him with a bomb or a stone or a hammer. Odd that I've read so little of him. in a bus station once in Texas, I think, and he too, like Camus, pissed me off. yet I realize that they both think, and write well, with force, I mean, there is just something in my brain that will hardly let me enjoy anything at all. I don't mean that I am an automatic crank or that I am bitter with the success of a Miller or a Camus; it's just that I'd rather not read.

(Screams from the Balcony, p. 240)

But I'm hot on Factotum, my last novel. Ya seen it yet? I think it's the best writing I've done. have gotten quite a bit of mail about it agreeing with me. In fact, today I got a letter with return address of Henry Miller, Pacific Palisades, and I thought, my my, is the old man bending to write me? But when I opened it up it was from his son, one Larry Miller. Ah well. He praised Factotum, part of which goes: "...I guess I just wanted to say thank you for being the first writer since reading my father that has made me feel that all is not lost in literature today; especially a sense of reality that seems to have escaped nearly everyone else..."

(Living on Luck, p. 214)

I guess you know old Henry Miller is still alive? His son wrote me a while (Larry) and told me that I was the world's greatest writer. I told him to look over his shoulder and he'd find him. (He lives with Henry.)

(Living on Luck, p. 258)

I am having Henry Miller luck in Europe; well, not Henry Miller luck, say one-quarter Henry Miller luck...

(Reach for the Sun, p. 11)

Henry Miller. I didn't feel much when he went because I've been expecting it. What I liked is that when he was going he went to paint and what I've seen of his things are very good, warm, hot color. Not many lives like his. In his writing, he did the thing like that, when nobody else was going it, doing it. He cracked the hard black walnut. I always had trouble reading him because he would leave off into this Star-Trek contemplation sperm-jizz babble but it made the good parts better when you finally got to them, but frankly, I usually gave up most of the time. Lawrence was different, he was solid all the way through but Miller was more modern, less artsy, until he got into his Star-Trek babbling. I think a problem Miller caused (and it's not his fault) is that when he hustled and pushed his stuff (early) he has made others think that that's the way it is done, so now we have these battalions of semi-writers knocking on doors and hustling and proclaiming their genius because they have been "undiscovered" and that the very fact of non-discovery makes them sure of their genius because "the world is not ready for them yet."

(Reach for the Sun, p. 19)

Henry Miller. A damn good soul. He liked Céline like I like Céline.

(Reach for the Sun, p. 20)

I don't know why they sometimes compare me to Henry Miller. I always had trouble reading him. He'd go on all right a while and then he'd get astral or fluffily literary and I'd get discouraged. Comparison will happen and I suppose it's better to be compared than ignored.

(Reach for the Sun, p. 56)

I remember, maybe a couple of decades ago, every time I opened a mag it seemed as if there were an interview with Henry Miller, A. Ginsberg or Burroughs. Miller sometimes said something but G. just ranted on in hot air and Burroughs was bored and boring. But they didn't know how to say "no" and so here they continued to appear here and there, just saying anything. [* * *]

(Reach for the Sun, p. 66)

I think Henry Miller had much to do with this attitude. Early in his career he squeezed the juices out of many patrons, and, in a sense, demanded it. Of course, Miller was preceded by others and followed by others. I always felt it was easier to get a job than to hold out the hand. After all, maybe you weren't a genius. Maybe you just thought you were a genius. (God or the devil or something knows that there are enough of those.)

(Reach for the Sun, p. 166/167)
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Sehr cool, Johannes! Here's a few more:
"I can't read Henry Miller. He starts talking about reality but then he becomes esoteric, starts talking about something else. A couple of good pages, and then he goes off on a tangent, enters into abstract areas, and I can't read him anymore. I feel gypped." Silvia Bizio interview
"Mailer became an intelligent journalist, as did Capote. Pound just got darker and darker and pissed out. Spender quit, Auden quit, Olson begged to the crowd. Creeley got angry and tightened. Abraham Lincoln hated blacks and Faulkner wore a corset. Ginsberg sucked to the sound of himself and was overcome. And old Henry Miller long done, fucking beautiful Japanese girls under the shower." NOADOM, LA Free Press, Feb. 22- March 1 1974
"You know, I wonder if Henry Miller is really all that good? I've tried to read his books on cross-country buses but when he gets into those long parts in between sex he is a very dull fellow indeed. On cross-country buses I usually have to put down my Henry Miller and try to find somebody's legs to look up, preferably female." "Henry Miller Lives in Pacific Palisades and I Live on Skid Row, Still Writing About Sex," Knight, 1972


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Those are good ones, David, especially the last one ;) Thanks a lot.

He repeats this cross-country bus story a lot. I guess he really did read Miller on some bus once.

Also I always thought that Miller was the model for "L" in that one Notes-column, which ends with the sentence "The revolution couldn't come to fucking fast for me." Don't you think?

It's all there: Anais Nin, the writing about "Joe with the big cock", "L" always "hollering poverty", even Millers japanese wife in the form of Marlowe.
Yes, definitely about Miller. Although I wonder also if Buk is mixing in the American writer Walter Lowenfels here since the Miller character is advocating "revolution" which would fit more with Lowenfels. Also, on p. 75, the "Miller" character says: "L. had already looked drunk. he drained half his glass. a scotch and water man. 'I'll always remember that hotel in Paris. we were all there. kaja, Hal Norse, Burroughs...the greatest literary minds of our generation.'" Of course Miller was never in the Beat Hotel, so again B. is probably mixing things up here again, perhaps purposely. Also Lowenfels edited Mainstream to which B. contributed an essay and knew the Webbs, etc.

I thought of the connection since the character is named "L"= perhaps partially "Lowenfels."


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Ah, that might easily be. He knew Lowenfels and Lowenfels knew Miller. Isn't there even this one story in Erections, called "One for Walter Lowenfels"?

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