How much did he really drink? (1 Viewer)

Oskar Blues Brewery is a craft brewery located in Longmont, Colorado. The company began as a restaurant in Lyons in 1997 and began brewing beer in the basement in 1999. Five years later, they became one of the first to issue craft beer in cans.

Unfortunately that comes from mjp's favorite source: wikipedia.
 
If he did indeed drink as much as he writes about in his novels, it begs the question - How did he keep his faculties to write so bloody well? I mean, he is sharp; constantly one or more steps ahead of the reader. It's never dull nor does the prose at anytime suggest any deterioration or weakness in his writing. That's the question I kept asking to myself as I read through his major novels.
 
I've wondered that as well, 'Observation.B'. I'm amazed that the Buk didn't suffer from memory loss or become extremely forgetful, or piss his pants with the amount of alcohol he consumed.
 
the only good poet said: i think you'll find he spoke on that very subject in an interview (the bukowski tapes?) he said something like, "whiskey doesn't work. hour and ten minutes and you're finished. your writing gets over-dramatic, gets shitty. wine is best. with wine you can go on for hours." something along those lines.
Seems like a very true assessment to me...whiskey will put you on the floor a lot faster than the wine.

Also, aside from the physical toll it would take, I always wondered about the financial toll...how buk could swing things with limited funds. But after getting back from a month in the states and seeing the insanely cheap price of booze there I understand. Here in Canada the same bottle can set you back three to four times as much. Hell, some Canadian imports are cheaper in the states than they are in Canada.

At Winn Dixie you could get a case of spiced rum - 6 60s for $90 + free mixer and a discount on gas. I now wonder how everyone in that country does not pickle themselves by the age of forty, haha!
 
I've been through several hospital detoxes in my life. People who drink as heavily as Bukowski CLAIMS he did (for as long as he claims he did) struggle with seizures (upon detox), intense tremers, wetbrain (essentially becoming mentally retarted), and a complete inability to function, not to mention sexual impotence (The book Women would have been a physical impossibiliy). There's no way he could have been anything but homeless or hospitalized after all those years, nevermind going to all the trouble to write. He'd have been spendjng his time collecting empty bottles to redeem the deposit.

I think he was completely full of shit about his alcohol intake. Just like Hunter Thompson was about his drug use. And Hemingway was about his machismo.

That's not to say anything negative against his writing. I think Faulkner said something to the effect of "fiction can be truer than historical fact."

These guys were artists creating characters, and we've tended to blend their actual life stories with the myths they've created.

"So you still think you're a writer?"
"Well.......I'm still writing."
 
Last edited:

Black Swan

Abord the Yorikke!
Caontil, I mean to wish you good luck, whatever works for you. Also, welcome.
I think like Roni, you shouldn't be looking at the results of the pissing contests.
You' re probably looking for more in your search for good literature.
 

Hosh

hoshomccreesh.com
People who drink as heavily as Bukowski CLAIMS he did...

And how much is that, exactly? I don't recall specifics. 5 beers a day? A bottle of Scotch every day? Every week? 3 bottles of wine every night? Tell us how much Bukowski claimed he drank -- hard numbers -- and we'll start testing your theory.

Because without hard numbers to either back-up with research or refute, it's all just talk (and not very insteresting talk at that) now isn't it?
 
I guess calling into question the picture Bukowski painted of his drinking habits in his largely autobiographical novels -on a website DEDICATED to him - was sort of silly on my part.

Blackswan, thank you.
 
Last edited:
@Caeontil What was silly on your part was crunching the numbers of something you know nothing of.

Also, as has been pointed out, the pissing contest is not what is important. It's the writing.
 
It's not unreasonable to think that in his younger years, the amount he drank wound him up hemorrhaging and in the hospital in 1954, as in the well-documented (if not possibly somewhat embellished for the sake of literature) stint from Life and Death in the Charity Ward. We know he embellished some things, at least that's the most reasonable conclusion. But there are examples of him explaining how much he drank. An inscription to Arthur Appelbaum, his attorney, indicates that he wrote Post Office in 21 days on a pint a night. Are we to take him at his word here? Maybe. In later works, he discusses drinking about two bottles of wine a night. At 1,500 mL and 12% alcohol (a typical percentage from the 70s and 80; they tend to be higher these days), that's 180 mL of ethanol. That's the equivalent of a 375-mL "pint" of 48% Laphroaig Quarter Cask. That'll mess you up for a few hours, and it ain't great for the long-term, but it's not going on a complete bender.

But one doesn't need to be what one claims to be effective. Does one need to be completely off their rocker to write an effective book about a psyche ward? I think Ken Kesey did a fair job. And if Bukowski drank half or less of what he claimed, does it lessen the quality of the output? Must one be exactly what one professes when writing fiction?
 
Last edited:
You guys are right about the whole pissing contest thing. I think I was just pissed at him because I was really into him for years, and when I was in detox again (literally like three days ago), Betting on the Muse was there and I was just like "Fuck this guy."

Still a fan - I just kinda wanted to call him out for being full of shit, I guess, out of my own personal frustration more than based on any valid premis.

Guys like him and Kerouac and Hemingway and Ginsberg and Thoreau really changed my life in showing me that you can ACTUALLY live the life you want, if you are willing to suffer and starve for it.

some type of sloppy attempt at quoting Buk off my dome:

"If you really want to write, then quit your job, move into a tiny room, and FUCKING WRITE already."
 
I think there was a good observation made by his wife, Linda, who said that she watched him drink a lot over a long period of time but it didn't affect his ability to write or do other things, despite his heavy intake. Unlike myself, some people have an immense tolerance for alcohol - Depardieu is another one who can drink bottles and bottles of wine a night. I don't know what it is that allows for this - metabolism? body mass? But Buk mentions the first time he drank it in 'Ham on Rye', there was some instant connection he made with it and knew that he would be drinking it for the rest of his life (at least until near the end).
 
I don't know what it is that allows for this - metabolism? body mass?
Metabolism of ethanol is primarily a two-step process. Ethanol is converted to acetaldehyde by alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) and the resultant acetaldehyde is converted to acetate ion by aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH). Acetate is further metabolized to carbon dioxide and water or is eliminated directly, since it is highly water soluble. Other pathways can occur, but this is the primary route of elimination. The rate of this process depends primarily on genetics and nutrition. Body weight (or more correctly, body mass, as you say, but this terms is used mostly in the context of body mass index, which is ancillary to my point) is important because the degree of effect realized from any physiologically-active substance is dependent upon dose. Dose has a mass component of the physiologically-active substance (usually expressed in mg), a mass component from the receptor (i.e., the person taking the physiologically-active substance, usually expressed as kgbody weight), and a time component (usually expressed in days).

Thus, dose is expressed in mg of substance per kilogram of body weight per day. Mathematically, this is expressed as mg/kg-d. Note that mg/kg/d is a mathematically-ambiguous, but it is used by some because that's how the term is spoken. I digress.

So, if you drink a pint of beer that's 6% alcohol, that's 473.2 mL (0.06) = 28.4 mL of ethanol. Since ethanol has a density of 0.789 g/mL, this is equivalent to 22.4 g or 22,400 mg of ethanol. If you chug the beer and weigh 90 kg (198 pounds), your instantaneous dose is 22,400 mg / (90 kg) (1 day) = 249 mg/kg-d. If you weigh 45 kg (99 pounds), your instantaneous dose is 22,400 mg / (45 kg) (1 day) = 498 mg/kg-d. So, the relationship between dose and body weight is directly linear. If you weigh twice as much as someone else and if you ingest the same amount of a substance, your instantaneous dose will be half of the person that weighs half your weight.

Which is why midgets shouldn't drink gin. Thus endeth the lesson.
 
Last edited:
Thanks PS. I think that was my 'gut feeling', although you have expressed it better in scientific terminology (which I was always crap at understanding).

I did speak to a former alcoholic who said that nutrition plays a major part - so perhaps Buk's diet also played an important role. I know he used to make 'steak & lima beans' for his daughter (mentioned by Marina in 'Born Into This').

A good start!
 
I've been putting myself on the wagon for over a week now and make the experience, that the hardest moments in trying to stay sober are, when I do have companions around me.

The easiest way to drink less is to smoke marijuana or (even better) hashish, increasingly easy in the U.S. Weed somehow makes it easier to drink less, perhaps because you get nice and buzzed without it. And you can wake up the next day and function fully. Alcohol with weed works, and you still get some of the alcohol effect, but you don't have to drink as much because you get the mind-soothing effects of dope as a complement. So you end up drinking less, which is no doubt why the alcohol industry is lobbying so hard against the legalization of marijuana. ;)
 

Users who are viewing this thread

Top