Bukowski Sober Years (1 Viewer)

I apologize if this subject has already been discussed here, but I couldn't find any information about this here or elsewhere on the internet. Over the years I've heard that Bukowski was allegedly sober for as long as a couple years at some point, possibly after the birth of his daughter Marina. Does anyone know if there is any truth to this, and what years this may have actually been? I'm aware that he quit drinking very late in his life, I'm not referring to those years. Any information would be appreciated.
 
Marina Louise was born in September 1964. Nothing in correspondence with the Webbs involving writing for Crucifix suggests any period of sobriety. The only periods that make any possible sense are the leukemia treatment times or briefly (I'm guessing a week or two at most) after the 1954 hemorrhaging incident, which was followed briefly by the "John Coltrane diet," not known by name at the time, of milk and wine.
 

mjp

Founding member
Yeah, I've never heard that particular bit of lore. Bukowski being sober for as long as "a couple of years" and never writing about it seems unlikely.
 
He would quit for a few weeks here & there when he was with Linda King, but then they'd fight (mostly his instigating) and he'd be back on a drunk again. "The Icecream People" is one poem about being sober.

The Icecream People

the lady has me temporarily off the bottle
and now the pecker stands up
better.
however, things change overnight--
instead of listening to Shostakovich and
Mozart through a smeared haze of smoke
the nights change, new
complexities:
we drive to Baskin-Robbins,
31 flavors:
Rocky Road, Bubble Gum, Apricot Ice, Strawberry
Cheesecake, Chocolate Mint...

we park outside and look at icecream
people
a very healthy and satisfied people,
nary a potential suicide in sight
(they probably even vote)
and I tell her
"what if the boys saw me go in there? suppose they
find out I'm going in for a walnut peach sundae?"
"come on, chicken," she laughs and we go in
and stand with the icecream people.
none of them are cursing or threatening
the clerks.
there seem to be no hangovers or
grievances.
I am alarmed at the placid and calm wave
that flows about. I feel like a leper in a
beauty contest. we finally get our sundaes and
sit in the car and eat them.

I must admit they are quite good. a curious new
world. (all my friends tell me I am looking
better. "you're looking good, man, we thought you
were going to die there for a while...")
--those 4,500 dark nights, the jails, the
hospitals...

and later that night
there is use for the pecker, use for
love, and it is glorious,
long and true,
and afterwards we speak of easy things;
our heads by the open window with the moonlight
looking through, we sleep in each other's
arms.

the icecream people make me feel good,
inside and out.
 

Skygazer

And in the end...
More than likely, he would have been advised to stop drinking alcohol for the duration of his antibiotic treatment, which would probably have been long - possibly 6 months.
 
He quit for a year except on the wedding day of Marina.
Perhaps this is what I was thinking of, for some reason I associate a lengthy period of sobriety with Marina, although it is entirely possible that I dreamed this up. Any idea what year this might have been or any references to this year of being sober?
 

Skygazer

And in the end...
So if this was in '89 it would coincide with what skiroomalum was saying about him quitting temporarily after battling tuberculosis, according to the timeline.

He more than likely stopped not after but because of the TB, the treatment would have required him to, that he complied is more than likely due to Linda Lee, as it is long term (6 months or so in duration) a big change from the first time he was told to quit on medical grounds (haemorrhage) when being young and reckless
he didn't stop, but managed to get away with it.

More than likely it was the long term alcohol misuse that caused the TB, he may have had a bout as a child that he fought off, but that later recurred, due to weaker immunity.

Also - I need to stop saying more than likely!
 
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Ponder

"So fuck Doubleday Doran"
RIP
Martin never drank a drop.

What? Really? Was he drinking often, just in moderation?
No, I think just the opposite. He was not drinking very often, but when he did he drank a lot. I mean, he drank every day, and toward the end it was good wine.

What a bullshit.
 
I agree that sounded like a contradictory statement...he didn't drink often, yet he drank every day...I'm not sure how that works. What do you suppose his motivations were if he wasn't being truthful about Bukowski's drinking? To me it seems it would be in his best interests to do the opposite, and inflate the myths and legends surrounding Bukowski, with the hopes of encouraging more book sales.
By the way thanks for the article miyavi, it was an interesting read regardless of ones opinion of Martin.
 

Johannes

Founding member
It might probably be true, tho, that Martin never saw Bukowski really drunk. Because why should he? He wasn't drinking himself, so there was no reason to hang out with Bukowski for that.

Then also I don't think they met on a regular basis. Otherwise Bukowski wouldn't have had written all these letters to Martin during the decades. When they met it probably were business-like meetings for signing contracts or whatever, and Bukowski was - despite his erratic persona - way to clever and controlled a person to fuck anything up with Martin and Black Sparrow this way.
 
It might probably be true, tho, that Martin never saw Bukowski really drunk. Because why should he? He wasn't drinking himself, so there was no reason to hang out with Bukowski for that.

Not that this is very important, but just for fun, I guess there was at least one occasion and that was Bukowski's wedding. In the story in German Penthouse (April 1986), Bukowski wrote that they drove home with their best friends after the wedding and had some more drinks. According to the text, „Big John Martin“ was worried, that Buk would drink too much. And some pictures show that he did drink too much. But maybe Mr. Martin had left the building in time…

„Die drei Stunden waren schnell vorüber. Vier bis fünf gute Seelen halfen uns, die unzähligen Hochzeitsgeschenke in die Limousine zu packen, und wir fuhren mit den besten Freunden nach Hause.

Dort waren natürlich noch mehr Drinks, und die Leute liefen rum und schwatzten und schon wieder Kameras. Und da war Big John Martin, der sich Sorgen machte, daß ich mich zu stark besoff…“ (German Penthouse, April 1986, pg.169)

The pictures were posted here: https://bukowskiforum.com/threads/wedding-pics-april-1986-german-penthouse.2047/
 

Skygazer

And in the end...
It might probably be true, tho, that Martin never saw Bukowski really drunk. Because why should he? He wasn't drinking himself, so there was no reason to hang out with Bukowski for that.

You have a good point there, but it is being very economical with the truth and I would bet he got plenty of drunken phone calls.But perhaps managed to avoid all the down and dirty stuff. This incident where Martin avoids going to get Bukowski from the police station was hilarious, the famous Put The Couch Down! :)

‘Don’t throw the couch!’ said the cops, pulling their guns. ‘He’s wrecking my place! He’s wrecking it!’ screamed Linda. ‘Put the couch down.’
Sounes, Howard (1999-10-16). Charles Bukowski: Locked in the Arms of a Crazy Life (p. 126).

So I guess Martin could put Bill Clinton to shame in the fibbing department.

ps My favourite Bill Clinton quote here (for once, never a truer word):"Being president is like running a cemetery: you've got a lot of people under you and nobody's listening." –Bill Clinton
 

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