Recommended Bukowski books for newbie

I also have been amazed about it back then. And even disappointed, since I find it not THAT strong.

My personal guess is, that the biographical background of the book (which equals the time of the novel 'Women') attracts people to it so much that this becomes a valid factor. Plus an appealing title.
I enjoyed Love is a Dog From Hell far more than Pulp. I barely consider Pulp a Bukowski book. I tell people it's the only one they should skip. Maybe I'm being too harsh. I've only read it once. I should give it a second read.


Pulp... I should give it a second read.
By all means. I liked it the first time I've read it but I liked it even more the second time, a couple of weeks ago.

Speaking of recommending the first Buk book one should read, I think one can't go wrong with anything by Bukowski they can find. At the end reading any of his books (and liking it) will lead to just one (and the same) thing: reading the whole lot of them.
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Poetry: Days..., Mockingbird..., Burning in Water..., Play the Piano, The People Look like Flowers at Last, Night Torn Mad...
Novels: Ham on Rye, Post Office, Factotum, Women
Check out the Freep stuff as well (Notes...)
If ya have any interest in Bukowski the man, have a look at l'ocked in in the arms of a crazy' life by Howard Sounes. It's well investigated, researched and written.
There definitely both present, no argument, but if you're new to Bukowski, and asking for recommendations, I would recommend it. I'm not saying it's perfect, but few bios ever are. But my point was research, investigation and writing style. It covers a lot of Buk's work, and it includes an extensive list of his publications, including starred ratings, which is designed to help newcomers. The book engages with a wide array of people who knew Buk, many of the women whom he was with, whose insights I found interesting. The writing style is straight forward. There are worse places to start,.


Founding member
list of his publications, including starred ratings...
Star ratings? I don't see that in the first edition. If they were added later they are not "designed to help newcomers," they are designed to tell you what Sounes thinks.

Sounes did a lot of research. Research gives you information but it can't give you understanding.

But yes, there are worse places to start.

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I know that the idea of making any top (whatever) is silly, however, I can't help but ask. What's your top 5 Bukowski published work while he was still alive ?

So far, I've only read Pulp and Notes of a Dirty Old Man. I'm still waiting for The Most Beautiful Woman in Town and Women to arrive. Maybe that's why I'm asking for your top 5, I'm a newbie.

Appreciate all/any answer(s).


“The essential doesn't change.” Beckett
There seem to be many different opinions as to favorites or best. I think his work is best enjoyed as a whole breathing entity. Re-reading this I think I also avoided answering your question. Books of his publish during his lifetime that I like a lot? The Last Night of the Earth Poems, Notes of a Dirty Old Man, Love is a Dog From Hell, Septuagenarian Stew, and Post Office. It changes but that's where I'm at today.
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Pogue Mahone

Officials say drugs may have played a part
I got into Buk by watching Barfly and then immediately (hung over first thing in the morning) buying the (short story) City Lights books. I was hooked 20 pages in. I got to the poems soon enough, but I viewed them as micro-short stories.

Mind you, I am a bit of a Neanderthal and didn't look for symbolism in the lines, but there are folks on here that picked the lines apart and revealed things I could never see on my own.

No matter, Buk can be enjoyed on any level.

Neanderthal Mike
Hello, I would like to learn more about Bukowski and his work through the people who read it.
They say that a person's playlist tells you about what kind of person they are. I think the same goes with the writers we come to like and their works.
You should ask the veterans here about Bukowski, they've seniority and probably even met him or attended one of his readings. Or read interviews from Linda Lee Bukowski (his last wife) or Marina Bukowski (his daughter).
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