bukowski refusing to behave


When I was young, and new to L.A., and hanging around dissolute poets, I read a lot of Bukowski, and it seemed to me, even then, that there was a lot of dreck to page through before something struck and resonated. So when I picked up “Portions from a Wine-Stained Notebook,” it was with those hard questions in mind: doesn’t this guy need an editor? And a garbage can? But these essays have that sometimes-absent discipline (or help from editors) so that even when they consist of disconnected paragraphs, they have a kind of form. And, I think, a preciseness of language that’s missing in his lesser work. I was charmed. From the title essay:

drunk again in a crackerbox room, dreaming of Shelley and youth, bearded, jobless bastard with a walletful of win tickes un-cashable as Shakespeare’s bones. we all hate poems of pity or cries of the wailing poor — a good man can climb any flag and salute prosperity (we’re told) but how many good poets can you find at IBM or snoring under the sheets of a fifty-dollar whore? more good men have died for poetry than all your crooked battle-fields were worth; so if I fall drunk in a four-dollar room: you messed up your history — let me dawdle in mine.

more from the LA Times here.