When did you discover Bukowski? (1 Viewer)

Some of us here have recently discovered Buk. And others, like myself, have been reading him for years. I thought it would be interesting to hear about when in our lives we encountered his work. And a little about the circumstances leading up to it.

I'll start.

It was April 2001 and a Books-a-Million had just opened locally. The poetry section there was bigger than other bookstores in the area. And a little more comprehensive. It was there and then I picked up "Sifting Through the Madness for the Word, the Line, the Way." My introduction to the world of Bukowski.

By that time, I was early in the recovery from a terrible depression. A writer's block that lasted five years was still crumbling down. But there were still a few ramparts in my mind. Looking at Bukowski's work made me realize that I could write through my pain. Not just wait for it to subside for periods at a time. I found comfort in that.

Looking back, it's quite ironic to me that "Sifting..." is the first book of his I read. I was going through quite a bit of madness at the time. Still do, occasionally. But I cope better these days.

Before 2001, I had never heard of Charles Bukowski. Growing up in West Virginia blinded me to most goings on out west. I stuck mostly with poets my parents knew. Like Robert Frost and Ogden Nash. I read e.e. cummings and Jack Kerouac in school, but never Bukowski.

Never until that month in that year of my life. As if he was waiting until I was ready for him.

So that's my story. How did you discover Bukowski?
 
I heard about him from Roger Ebert, his review of Barfly, but never got around to finding any of his stuff. Then I heard again when they talked about Factotum but still I didn't see the movies or read the books. Finally in Nov of 2006 my youngest daughter got Born Into This and I watched it and started reading her books.
Roger Ebert did the most to spur my interest by making him sound exciting but back then I didn't read. I was lucky to read a book a year so it took nearly 10 years. I making up for lost time.
I know, not nearly as dramatic as zenguru. One thing I noticed, reading Bukowski makes you want to have a drink.
 
I see there is a similar thread to this one here.

But it is an interesting question. I sometimes look at the timeline on this site or the pencilled in price on the inside covers of some of the books I have and remember another tidbit from the "discovering" of Bukowski.

bukbabe's appearance on this forum, and her mention of McLeod's books, reminded me that I found a second hand copy of Dirty Old Man at his old Cambie and Hastings store. Price on the inside was $3.50 (for a $4.95 book).

I believe that store had a fire and the owner Don Stewart moved over a few blocks to Pender and Richards. Don't know the year the fire happened so I can't place the year I bought the book. (I did buy some military surplus boots in that same block back around 1980, and I think that was before the fire.) Bought the reprint of A Bukowski Sampler (Druid Books, 1971) at the newer store close to 20 years ago. $7.50 on a $1.75 cover price. Both times I remember Stewart making a comment about Bukowski. Nothing very disparaging as I remember. I never know how to react to store people commenting on any of my purchases so I probably just laughed and left.

Fire scares me. So does water. Just had Jake the "supe" come up (10:30 p.m., Friday) to fix a plumbing leak in the hot water register. Some damage to some paper material (no Bukowski) of stuff on the floor. Caught it early so less damage. Good thing my laptop is sitting near the register. My socks getting wet was the first clue.

Reading Bukowski then helped make me realize I wasn't alone in feeling the way I did about myself and the world. He made me laugh if nothing else.

Jake is cool as well even if he has far too many dumb jokes and smokes too much. Today was his "zap" day, electro shock treatments. He was close to death a few years back, tumour and other complications but he made it back. Should be retired but he's too stubborn to completely stop. Before he left he talked about a book on local motorsport people I had a hand in producing. He knew lots of the names because he owned a garage years back and had all sorts of hot cars that he wishes he still had now. But he's alive and can tell a story, and knows this building pretty well and all of those things add up to something good.
 
I see there is a similar thread to this one here.

Yes, and there's at least one more but I can't remember it's name, so I'll write down once more how I discovered Bukowski:

In 1978 or 79, I stumbled upon a one page ad for a collection of Buk's work in a German magazine. The collection included all of Buk's work in German up till that time. They offered a few Buk quotes too. One of them was from "Confessions..": "Hospitals and jails and whores: these are the universities of life. I've got several degrees. Call me Mr."
The ad also had the famous Buk-Georgia photo. The quotes and the photo intrigued me so much that I went to the biggest library in town to dig up some Buk books. In the late seventies Buk had'nt been translated into Danish yet, but I managed to find an English copy of Post Office. Reading Post Office was enough to make me a Buk fan. I could easily relate to his description of the eight hour work day. Finally a writer who felt the same way as I did and he was funny too. I then found an English book shop who sold the BSP books and the rest is history...
 
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Some of us here have recently discovered Buk. And others, like myself, have been reading him for years. [...] I picked up "Sifting Through the Madness for the Word, the Line, the Way." My introduction to the world of Bukowski.
No offense, but someone who picked up Sifting as their first Bukowski book and says they have been "reading him for years" while others are newbies just strikes me as funny. Don't get me wrong, it's great whenever anyone discovers his work. But it just sounds odd.

In 100 years it won't matter anyway, because we'll all be worm meat and everyone will be new to him.
 
I know what you mean. I've always been happy that I discovered Bukowski while he was still alive. But I also realise that that is a stupid thing to be pleased about. Yes I said that that.
 
No offense, but someone who picked up Sifting as their first Bukowski book and says they have been "reading him for years" while others are newbies just strikes me as funny. Don't get me wrong, it's great whenever anyone discovers his work. But it just sounds odd.

Odd how? I know I've only been reading him for less than a decade, but that still qualifies as "years." More than a decade would be qualified as "years and years." Ha ha ;)

And when BAM opened, there were no Buk novels in stock. So until I bought Sifting... I thought Buk was just a poet.

When I introduced myself here, bospress.net also said it was odd to see someone who discovered Buk's poetry first and novels second. Well,there's a reason for that.

I hated reading thick books as a kid because I could never get through them for some reason. I would get stuck on a paragraph for half an hour. Some letters and numbers played tricks on me. I only recently discovered that I'm dyslexic. And I've been dyslexic all my life. It's only in the past year or two that I've come to understand how it is a part of me.

So I read things that were simple to finish. Or just watched a lot of TV. I was intimidated by books as a kid. All of my friends were reading Lord of the Flies and J.R.R. Tolkien and I had this invisible wall in my head. Probably one of the precipitating factors of my depression later in life.

Now that I realize a little more how my mind is wired, I'm able to read more. I've always been a good reader. Top speller in my class. But because words danced on paper, I thought I was stupid. It was the '70s. Dyslexia wasn't well known. I thought I would never be as good as the other kids.

I've learned to be more patient when I read bigger books. Take them one page at a time like I take life one day at a time. Over the past dozen or so years, I've read novels from several authors. Carl Hiaasen being one of my favorites.

Somehow I've been able to cope with all the crap and lifelong disappointment reading used to give to me. Reading poetry was the beginning of this transformation, I think. Billy Collins, Charles Simic, Ted Kooser, Buk, and others. They've all helped me to turn my eyes around and learn to enjoy reading again.
 
I found him a few years before he died, I was about nineteen. I didn't have enough life experience to relate, but the way he laid it down got me going somehow.

I first read the poems in Dangling in the tournefortia. and worked my way back.
as i get older and having put myself through some ridiculous stuff, I really dig his truth no matter what stance.
 
I walked into a Borders one day, and one of the salesmen there (Saratoga) knows me. I think I went to the track that day? Maybe, I dunno. But this was a couple years back. But I told him to give me something I'd like. I gave him some keywords, "chain-smoking, drinking, under-age relationships, etc". He came out with Bukowski's "Tales of Ordinary Madness" and said, 'you'd better start with this'. I still don't know how it's "under-age relationships", but I've never turned back and thank god (or whoever) for that.
 
First Buk Book

Broke, unemployed, split up with first wife, walking hungover in Portland, Oregon, passing a small book store, I spotted "Love Is A Dog From Hell" in the window and walked in and bought it as an impulse buy. 1978. Got sober a year later in Florida, haven't had a drink since, still think he is the equal of Whitman, Frost, and Hemingway, at least.
 
Appropriately enough, I was taking a leak at work in 1987 (yes, in the Men's Room, in case you were wondering), and a friend walked in with, if I recall correctly, Dangling in the Tournefortia. "What's that?" I asked...
 
University of Houston, 1984, the famous guy yapping at the front of the writing class could not keep the attention of my neighbor who was engrossed in Ham on Rye. My attention now lost, I read over his shoulder enough that I had to go out and get my own copy...And it was all downhill from there.
 
Appropriately enough, I was taking a leak at work in 1987 (yes, in the Men's Room, in case you were wondering), and a friend walked in with, if I recall correctly, Dangling in the Tournefortia. "What's that?" I asked...

So what happened after he turned to answer and inadvertently pissed down your leg?
 
Broke, unemployed, split up with first wife, walking hungover in Portland, Oregon, passing a small book store, I spotted "Love Is A Dog From Hell" in the window and walked in and bought it as an impulse buy. 1978. Got sober a year later in Florida, haven't had a drink since, still think he is the equal of Whitman, Frost, and Hemingway, at least.

I was a Frost fan before I ever heard of Buk. Welcome to the boards!

I found him a few years before he died, I was about nineteen. I didn't have enough life experience to relate, but the way he laid it down got me going somehow.

I first read the poems in Dangling in the tournefortia. and worked my way back.
as i get older and having put myself through some ridiculous stuff, I really dig his truth no matter what stance.

And a belated welcome to you, Paddy.

I ordered "Dangling..." in the mail just recently. Think I just may crack that open after I finish "Most Beautiful Woman in Town."
 
So what happened after he turned to answer and inadvertently pissed down your leg?

Those of us who are cultured enough to see through the "15-year old boy" moniker are fully capable of glancing over one's shoulder whilst still pointing percy at the porcelain, as it were, of course. ;)
 
Appropriately enough, I was taking a leak at work in 1987 (yes, in the Men's Room, in case you were wondering), and a friend walked in with, if I recall correctly, Dangling in the Tournefortia. "What's that?" I asked...

So what happened after he turned to answer and inadvertently pissed down your leg?

Those of us who are cultured enough to see through the "15-year old boy" moniker are fully capable of glancing over one's shoulder whilst still pointing percy at the porcelain, as it were, of course. ;)

:)

Okay, scratch that and let's try it another way:

Appropriately enough, I was taking a leak at work in 1987 (yes, in the Men's Room, in case you were wondering), and a friend walked in with, if I recall correctly, Dangling in the Tournefortia. "What's that?" I asked...

..."My penis" he answered.

...and then what?

:D

Sorry, I just can't seem to stop myself.
 
Men's room and "my penis"? - Is this turning into a George Michael story? :D
 
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I think I answered this before but I started reading him in 81 or so, I was disillusioned with music and had an interest in poetry & remember seeing him on PBS a few years back doing a reading with a refrigerator full of beer.

He was the first poet I read and the last that I really liked.

Oh, and just wanted to say Zen may be young but he's ok in my books.
 
In high school, about 1965, his column "Notes of a Dirty Old Man" in the L. A. Free Press. I wasn't a collector back then and didn't keep any issues. Didn't know he wrote poetry until a few years later, when I was in college. I thought he was literally a crazy old man, a dirty old kook. But I liked his column.
 
PS is right, the dates look wrong...

Open City 1967-1969
NOLA 1969 -1973
LA Free Press 1974

Bill

What ????

I thought I read LA Freep in High School, in the bedroom I grew up in, in my parent's home. I moved out of there when we got married in 1968, never moved back, so I had to be reading whatever it was in before August 1969. Must have been some other underground newspaper. I always figured it was the Free Press, but maybe it was Open City. Those dates fit. I could have read "Notes of a Dirty Old Man" in 1967 to mid-1968, when I was still at home. I don't remember that paper, personally, but that must be what I was reading. I always figured Open City was one of those underground papers I missed. There were many of them in L.A. Thanks for the dates, Bill. My own damned life is a mystery to me. I graduated high school in 1966, so I didn't first read Buk in high school, 1965; it was in college 1967-68. I stand corrected, as they say.
 
Maybe he thinks you can work your way up to under-age relationships.:D

But I read Lolita before I was introduced to Buk!
I understood some of the French :(.

Haha. Kidding. Lolita is one of my favorite novels and I was taking French II in high school during the time that I read it, so it wasn't that bad when Humbert went on in French.
 
sorry for the off-topic:

Lo: do you prefer the picturization by Kubrick or by Lynn?

Lynn. The Kubrick version is great if you're looking for comic relief (which there is much in the novel, depending on how one interprets it) and dry humour from James Mason... but the Lynn version touches on a different, more empathetic perspective of Humbert's character, in my opinion. And I dig the different-theory thing.
 
The only reason I know is that I looked for stuff for cirerita a year or so ago in an "underground press" microfilm collection at a local university.
 
In the summer of 1992 I met a guy in a bar who was carrying around a copy of the Roominghouse Madrigals. From what I remember I don't think he was really interested in Buk- it was more of a prop, a fashion accessory. But I liked the poems. So the next time I went to the library I took out a copy.
 
first bukowski

I was about 18 in 1982 and was into the L.A. band X. They were being interviewed on tv and mentioned that Charles Bukowski was one of their influences. I went to the library and they had Erections.....I checked it out (and still have it, actually) and then starting buying everything connected to his name over the years. It was the first time i heard, read or saw anything that mirrored the way i felt and looked at the world. He is definitely one of the main influences of my life. His honesty, humor, sensitvity and courage is just not to be found anywhere else. You all have excellent taste...;)
 

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