Don't know what to make of THIS one... (1 Viewer)

Hello, everyone. I'm new to the forum, but I've been lurking for quite a while. I started reading Buk a couple of years ago, and I can honestly say I've never had an author give me the kind of reaction he does. Though he was undoubtedly a flawed human being in real life, his writing cuts through to the bone, exposes the human race for the horror show it is, and I love that. I don't think any other writer, living or dead, has been able to pull it off the way Buk did.

Okay, so I've confessed I am a huge problem is Howard Sounes' biography, which I am currently reading. Don't get me wrong, I know Bukowski had it in him to be cruel and ugly towards...well, practically everyone he met. What I have a problem with is the short story "The Fiend", or rather Buk's inspiration for writing it. When interviewed in "Hustler" magazine, he admitted to watching a little girl play in her yard, and masturbating. He goes on to say he would let an eight year old girl suck his cock "if she wanted to", and how nice it is when they put on their roller skates in short skirts because you can see their panties.

Needless to say, this made me cringe. I don't know whether he was telling the truth (and who really knows with Buk?), but I have to say that this kind of thing disgusted me, and made me question whether or not he really did have these type of urges/feelings. Maybe I just can't let it go because I am a woman, but I have a feeling a lot of men would be just as repulsed after reading this. It's not that I have a problem with the subject matter of the story; I just have a problem with Buk admitting he had these feelings in real life. I don't know if I can keep reading his work without constantly going back to this, and that makes me sad.

Sorry this post is so long, but I wanted to know what everyone else thinks. If this has been mentioned before on the forum, just direct me to the right thread. Thanks, guys.
Bukowski is always walking a very fine line between himself and his "characters", reality and fantasy, sanity and madness, pretending and being "sincere" or "honest." That's one of the aspects of his genius. In that particular interview, he was consciously baiting the interviewer. Poor Nabokov went through something similar with Lolita. Is there a tiny trace of Vladimir in Humbert Humbert? Well, Nabokov hated Freud so we can't ask him to lie down on the couch. Is there a bit of Shakespeare in Hamlet and Macbeth and Lear? Or of Homer in that butcher Achilles? I don't know where one can draw the line with such speculation.
Yes, what David said. Buk was baiting the interviewer. He could say some very provocative things now and then. I suspect he got a kick out of it, plus he knew it would'nt hurt his book sales, on the contrary.
As for "The Fiend", there's a thread about it in the forum. It's an interesting story because it's unusual to read a story about a child molester told in part from the child molester's point of view.
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Just out of curiosity, does anyone have a link to the original interview? I would love to read it in its entirety, but I can't seem to find it.

Thanks for your opinions, by the way. This site gives me a lot to think about.
"The Fiend" was written in 1969 and first published in a girlie mag in 1970. It went almost unnoticed, save a comment here and there. It was reprinted by Hustler in 1976, and he was also interviewed by that mag to basically talk about the short-story. B. always claimed that he was "sharp" that day, and I think the interview shows as much.

In between, before Hustler made the story (in)famous, B. was submitting a weekly column to the L.A. Free Press. Sometime in 1973, he sent a story with a very graphic episode of pedophilia, quite similar to "The Fiend." I don't think it has been collected, but it will be... eventually ;)
I think the term is sublimation; the act of creation can transform mans darkest tendencies. And sometimes it simply describes them.
i think you're right.

considering the emotional and physical abuse he suffered growing up it's
a wonder he didn't end up a serial killer or a hitman.
It's hard enough reading this one, let alone thinking about writing it. I'm sure it must have been uncomfortable trying to enter the mind of someone committing such an inhumane act. I mean, tough guy image aside, Buk comes across as quite a sensitive guy...all the bravado, stirring people up seems to be him having fun with fucking with the minds of people. But I agree, he was probably trying to push the boundaries of his writing to the absolute max. Or maybe he wanted to harden his rep as a controversial writer? I don't know.

Either way it is a pretty intense story, but out of all the stories in that collection it packs the biggest emotional/reactional punch. Personally I think it is a really sad story, probably the saddest I have read. I can't really say I like's hard to use the like with such a story, but I would say it is an important read, that really hammers home the nasty, real picture of this fucked up society from all sides of the story (the paedophile, the lynch mob, the victims etc.) but taking it from the paedophiles mind, you're forced to except the reality that people are like this...flesh and blood people...not monsters, but people who in their own right have been dealt the bad hand in life, and carry that cycle on. Man, I have only read it once, but the memories of it linger around. For me 'the fiend' is the mob mentality and the paedophile and the children are the victims of a screwed up society. God, It's a tough read this...
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Should writers not address subjects because they are vile or reprehensible or make us uncomfortable? Should we never create any art that is anything but positive and cheerful and focused on the goodness of mankind?

I certainly don't want to live in that world, but when you start to question why an artist made a certain piece of art, whether their motivation was correct or incorect (according to you), we're on the way toward crazytown.

It's a piece of fiction, man. The story and the interview. Half the things he said were fiction. You really have to be kind of gullible not to recognize that.

Get over it.
I certainly don't believe artists should only expose the good in mankind, and I don't think they should be censored in any way. I hope I didn't come across as close-minded, because that's not who I am. I admit the inspiration I heard for the story made me uncomfortable, but since I had read very little on Buk himself and didn't realize just how much he fucked with people in interviews, I really didn't know any better. Telling me to "get over it" is a little harsh, but if I need a thicker skin to post here, I'll grow one.
Well, "get over it" wasn't intended just for you, it was for everyone weeping and moaning and gnashing teeth over this story.

But if you think "get over it" is harsh, yes, by all means you should consider growing a thicker skin.
Well, it's good to know it wasn't intended just for me.

For the record, I really enjoy reading your posts, mjp. You brought up a couple of points I didn't think of myself.
Where do we draw the line between a lecher and a pedophile?

To me there is a total difference... a pedophile is someone later on in life who preys on young children (young children as in, children who have not reached puberty), and it does not matter to them what the child's wish is or not.

A lecher... to me, is an older gentleman who has a preference or affinity towards younger girls, usually teenage girls/young women, but would not commit rape. If you ask me, I was a cock-tease in my teens and genuinely wanted older men, and didn't think of them as pedophiles. I thought of... say, a 60 year old man raping a 4 year old boy, as a pedophile.
I thought of... say, a 60 year old man raping a 4 year old boy, as a pedophile.

Well that's a given, ja?

There is a case in court at the moment (in Tasmania) where a woman is being charged with forcing a 12 year old girl into prostitution.

I don't think it matters whether that 12 year old has pubic hair or not. The point is a person that age does not have the ability to make decisions of that nature and cannot adequately protect themselves in most cases. Which is why we have statutory rape laws.

I hear you on the tease bit though. I've met a couple of those in my time.
The operative word being forced... to this day I still stand by the statement that I knew what I wanted at all times (sexually) in my teenage years, from people of any age.
i realise I am late to this conversation and who knows if this board is even still active.

However, I’ve recently started reading Bukowski and 12:18 am didn’t sit great.

He writes of hearing a man across the hall of his apartment taping his 4 year old daughter and hearing her screams as he smoked a cigar.

I resonate with much of the absurdity in his poems but I struggle with this.

If anyone has some perspective that may help me understand, I’d be very interested.
My take is Bukowski used this image as an indication of life’s horrors, it’s not literal. It’s a bleak poem, for sure. His ability to provoke strong feelings/reactions doesn’t always leave one comfortable. 4,000 plus poems….just another night typing.

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