Yes He Was A Beat Writer! (1 Viewer)

Some excellent thoughts on this thread. I've come to Bukowski recently as a fan of the Beats. From the perspective of readers, I think there is quite a bit of common ground i.e. people who like Kerouac will usually like Bukowski. Maybe it's less going the other way.

But I never considered Bukowski a beat writer. There is a difference in the underlying assumptions or life philosophy. Kerouac et al wanted to touch heaven, and become angel headed hipsters. Buddhism and a quasi-hippie peaceful engagement with the world is a strong thread through a lot of beat writing, except Burroughs. You don't see this attitude at all in Bukowski.

Bukowski acknowledged the egoistic side to the human spirit even when he would write touchingly about loss or love. As I read them, the Beats wanted to transcend the mundane and the everyday. Ginsberg wrote about everything being holy. Very pantheistic, very spiritual, as a forerunner to the sixties hippie movement. Bukowski might have agreed with it at some intellectual level but I doubt he ever would have written about it. It just wasn't interesting to him. What was interesting was the human struggle to find love and happiness in a hostile world that made those rewards so rare and therefore so special.

Feel free to correct my sense of Buk's work -- I only know a tiny slice of it so far. Is there a set of spiritual or religious assumptions behind Bukowski's work? I know he was raised Catholic but I don't think he took it very seriously.
I came to Buk's work through Kerouac. As much as I liked Jack's stuff, he was too far up in the clouds. Bukowski reminded me there were still boots trudging through the best and worst life has to offer. I still read Jack occasionally, but Buk is who resonates the most with me.
At least I can say now, that THIS book


has some nice picture of Bukowski.

And I know this, because I've just gotten it and it will be available in the bukowski-shop next week and I'm not feeling bad at all to advertise this shameless.
At no time did Charles Bukowski consider himself a "Beat."

to solve this mystery, I've added this scientific article from JULIE LEWIS about whether Buk was a Beat or not. it's from page 30 of "Encyclopedia of Beat Literature", edited by Kurt Hemmer, Facts On File, Inc. 2007, 132 West 31st Street, New York, NY 10001 ISBN 0-8160-4297-7

Bukowski, Charles (1920-1994)
At no time did Charles Bukowski consider himself a "Beat." Even though he shared publications, readings, and the occasional social gathering with prominent Beat figures, he set himself apart from his literary contemporaries. As he told the editor of Paris Metro in 1978, "I'm not interested in this bohemian, Greenwich Village, Parisian bullshit. Algiers, Tangier, that's all romantic claptrap."

Yet we can still find parallels between his work and that of jack kerouac and allen ginsberg in their use of autobiographical fiction as a tool for exposing and examining reality. They differ in that Bukowski's view of reality can seem bleak and dark next to the optimistic Kerouac's. While the Beats were communal and spiritual (often embracing Eastern religions and philosophies), Bukowski was solitary and, at times, aspiritual. While many Beats embraced illegal drug use, Bukowski denounced it, preferring alcohol. Yet the Beats seemed to be often on Bukowski's mind in his writings. He was aware that they had achieved a literary fame that he felt he rightly deserved. Yet, in the end, Bukowski is arguably even more popular than some of his Beat peers.

Born Heinrich Karl Bukowski on August 16, 1920, in Andernach, Germany, Bukowski's parents later changed his name to Henry Bukowski when they moved to Los Angeles, California. Aside from a few jaunts out East, Los Angeles was where Bukowski lived most of his life and the place that became the setting for much of his work. His childhood was extremely unpleasant, ranging from violent beatings administered by his father to painful and ugly boils that developed on his face and left lifelong scars. These events served as material for his fourth book, Ham on Rye (1982), which chronicles his youth. Direct and vivid scenes describe trips to the hospital where young Bukowski endured needles injected into his boils to draw the pus from them. This scarring, along with his prominent nose and paunch belly, assembled to create a rather unattractive man. The awkward, self-conscious Bukowski found a blissful escape in alcohol that remained a constant companion to him for almost the rest of his life.

John Martin began Black Sparrow Press to publish Bukowski in the 1960s, and Black Sparrow can be called the house that Bukowski built (the press also published many Beat authors). In the December 1976 issue of Hustler, Bukowski stated that 93 percent of what he wrote was autobiographical.

Much of his poetry and short stories deal with the monotony of everyday life, excessive drinking, playing the horses, and sexually charged (although at times clumsy) encounters with women. Throughout the drudgery he imbues his stories with humor and sharp insights into human interactions.

His first novel, Post Office (1971), tells the story of Henry Chinaski, who (like Bukowski) spent 12 years working for the post office. His prose style is like his poetry in that it is sparse and powerful, the humor cynical and smart. In Women (1978), Bukowski lightly fictionalizes his numerous love affairs, from young female fans who would send him pictures and fly out to meet him to his turbulent relationship with the sculptress Linda King ("Lydia"). After having lost his virginity late in life and only having sex sporadically until the age of 50, Bukowski took advantage of his small celebrity status and the opportunities it afforded him to meet women. These real-life romances (filled with heated drama more often than not) provided wonderful material for his work. To pay the bills, Bukowski wrote pornographic stories for adult magazines and provocative pieces for the independent paper Open City and later the LA Times. These stories were collected and published by Essex House as Notes of a Dirty Old Man, which was reissued by lawrence ferlinghetti's City Lights Books. It contains Bukowski's account of meeting neal cassady and the classic hair-raising car ride with Cassady behind the wheel just a few weeks before Cassady died in Mexico. Notes of a Dirty Old Man was not the only collection of short stories to be published by City Lights. In 1972 they published erections, ejaculations and general tales of ordinary madness. Being a large book, it was later reissued in 1983 as two shorter collections, Tales of Ordinary Madness and The Most Beautiful Woman in Town.

In addition to his connection to City Lights, Bukowski's poems appear alongside two Beat authors, harold norse and Philip Lamantia in Penguin Modern Poets"”13 (1969). It was at Harold Norse's request that Bukowski be included in the anthology. The two of them developed a friendship. Other Beat encounters include a benefit poetry reading where he appeared with Allen Ginsberg, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, and gary snyder. That evening, as he had done many times in the past, Bukowski drank himself into a belligerent state and insulted Ginsberg, claiming that he had not written anything "worth a shit" after "howl" and "kaddish." It was typical drunken Bukowski behavior as insecurity and too much booze combined as a catalyst for lashing out at others. He became notorious for insulting the audience at his poetry readings. Of course, his reputation of volatility enticed fans as they waited in long lines to see the "drunk Bukowski show."

The climax of his popularity came when the film Barfly was released. Bukowski wrote that the screenplay that was based on his life and work. Directed by Barbet Schroeder, and starring Mickey Rourke and Faye Dunaway, Barfly was only a moderate success, but it remains what mainstream America knows best about Bukowski. The making of the film served as material for Bukowski's fifth novel, Hollywood (1989). This book takes a funny, critical look at the entertainment industry from the blue collar, outsider- turned-insider perspective. Charles Bukowski died on March 9, 1994, after a prolonged battle with cancer. Bukowski biographer Howard Sounes wrote of his body of work, "there is an uncompromising personal philosophy running through: a rejection of drudgery and imposed rules, of mendacity and pretentiousness; an acceptance that human lives are often wretched and that people are frequently cruel to one another, but that life can also be beautiful, sexy, and funny." Factotum, a movie based on Bukowski's novel, directed by Brent Hamer and starring Matt Dillon, was released in 2005.

Brewer, Gay. Charles Bukowski. New York: Twayne, 1997.
Cherkovski, Neeli. Hank. New York: Random House, 1991.
Duval, Jean-Francois. Bukowski and the Beats. Northville,
Mich.: Sun Dog Press, 2002.
Harrison, Russell. Against the American Dream: Essays on
Charles Bukowski. Santa Rosa, Calif.: Black Sparrow Press, 1994.
Sounes, Howard. Locked in the Arms of a Crazy Life.
New York: Grove Press, 1998.
Bukowski reminded me there were still boots trudging through the best and worst life has to offer.

well said. the beats to me were caught up in the automobile and the microphone - movin fast and/or politickin. bukowski wasn't doing either. he moved around some for a while there for sure but his writing had a slowness to it that i never picked up on in the beats. very big difference. could be related to his listening more to orchestral music, and less to jazz? someone mentioned that the beats were jazzy. music we listen to probably does seem into our art i would say. and i don't think these debates are merely academic because they impact the whole way the people engage and share the work!

that said, people around here know lots more than me about both bukowski and lit history so just my 2 cents.

I have heard many folks say that Buk was not a part of the beat generation. They say that he did not want to be considered as a part of that generation. So you all (some of you anyway) like to sit their and sound smart by claiming that Buk's involvement with the beat generation is an incorrect myth. Well if you say that he was not a part of the beat generation, you are wrong. If Einstein did not want to be called a genius, it would not change the fact that he was a genius. It?s the same with Buk, just because he may not have thought of himself as a beat writer, he still really was. Some would argue that he was to far after what they consider to be the beat generation . Even if we call the Beat generation the small period of time where Kerouac hoped around the country with all his happy drunk friends, Buk was still close enough to this time to be considered a part of it. He even knew many of the fellows, most of them are not very well known, but they where still beats none the less. Just because he was at the end of that whole party does, not mean he wasn't a part of it. Buk is the example of what happens to a beat if they don't die at forty of alcohol poisoning. (I might take that death by the railroad instead) Now let?s look at what the beat generation really meant. A Beatnik is a person who will commonly reject the norms of established society and indulge in exotic philosophizing, and mainly self expression. What the Beats did for literature was like what Duncamp, and Picasso did for painting. The Beats took literature and poetry and turned it from a meticulous precise process, and turned it into an art, like expressionistic writing if you will. The Beatnik generation consists of the forefathers of this new way of writing, and if you do not think of Buk as one of these forefathers than you are just a damned fool.
? 2022 I stumbled across this and couldn’t agree more.!

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