Was Bukowski really a realist writer? (1 Viewer)

Buk usually is labeled as "realist" or "dirty realist" by critics specialized on him. Even though I tend to agree with this when it comes to Post Office, Factotum, Ham on Rye and Hollywood, Pulp reads to me like a surrealist novel, or at least a novel heavily influenced by surrealism. Russell Harrison also points out that his early poetry was surrealist, some of his short-stories play with the absurdity of life, skewed completely from the notion of verisimilitude that is typical of realism as a style. What's your take on this? Do you have any examples of Buk's poetry or prose that could not be labeled as realist, but rather surreal writing?
I'd say his poems are the most close to his reality although it is true that a subtle surrealism, or at least use of less terse language in favor of more imagery, was present in some of the earlier poems. The novels are likely based on reality but embellished and the short stories are almost all fantasy, save for works like All the Assholes in the World and Mine or Life and Death in the Charity Ward (although certainly some embellishment may be present in those). Pulp is an outlier in terms of the novels.

I wouldn't consider the following examples to be surrealism, per se, but they are certainly written with a sense of imagery in mind:

"...and the clouds moved sickly through
a sky that had died
about the time Caesar was knifed,
and I promised myself then
that someday I'd remember it
as it was."

- from the day it rained at the los angeles county museum

"this head like a saucer
decorated with everything
as lip to lip we hang
in mechanical joy;
my hands ablaze with arias..."

-from woman

Both are available in Burning in Water Drowning in Flame.
What's your take on this?

Even if some of his autobiographical tales were exaggerated here and there, don't judge him on that. His realism comes from seeing beauty in the darkest of places and horror in the places most Americans would view as the American Dream. He got his payday and he never changed, so don't chuck it up to jealousy or something like that. It was an honest assessment of the state of mankind.
I'd say there are a lot of the erotic stories that are fantasy/bizarre (esp. that one about the shrinking man). In some of the grander poems he gets a real sweep of the panorama of life and many of those are fairly detached from realism. Personally, I'd have liked a diary with sketches of real life - especially the early years and the travelling.
Incidentally, has anyone ever seen those late MS journals from The Captain...? If they still exist, will they ever be published in full?
I think they were published in full. Between ONTHEBUS - where they first appeared - and Captain.

I always meant to do a comparison when I had all of the ONTHEBUS issues to see if there was anything left out of Captain, but I don't think I ever got around to it (and now I don't have them anymore).
My opinion...

Bukowski wrote fiction. His novels were written in a memoir-like style. They were still fiction. (Plain 'ole fiction.)

I don't think the term, "dirty realism" caught on until way more recently - as a genre - and it's just another ridiculous pigeonhole.

I always thought the surrealists pertained to the post war visual artists, but I guess not. (Hee hee.) However, I see what you mean by some of his older poetry and short stories being more surreal. I just wouldn't slap a label on him so fast.

I don't get why fiction has been divided up into so many segments. I understand a few, yes, but now there are countless.

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