Charles Bukowski

Charles Bukowsk is one of America's best-known contemporary writers of poetry and prose. He was born in 1920 in Andernach, Germany, to an American soldier father and a German mother, and brought to the United States at the age of three. He was raised in Los Angeles and lived there for fifty years. He published his first story in 1944 when he was twenty-four and began writing poetry at the age of thirty-five. He died in San Pedro, California, on March 9, 1994, at the age of seventy-three, shortly after completing his last novel, Pulp.
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With Bukowski, the votes are still coming in. There seems to be no middle ground—people seem either to love him or hate him. Tales of his own life and doings are as wild and weird as the very stories he writes. In a sense, Bukowski was a legend in his time . . . a madman, a recluse, a lover . . . tender, vicious . . . never the same . . . these are exceptional stories that come pounding out of his violent and depraved life . . . horrible and holy, you cannot read them and ever come away the same again.

Bukowski . . . "a professional disturber of the peace . . . laureate of Los Angeles netherworld [writes with] crazy romantic insistence that losers are less phony than winners, and with an angry compassion for the lost." —Jack Kroll, Newsweek

"Bukowski’s poems are extraordinarily vivid and often bitterly funny observations of people living on the very edge of oblivion. His poetry, in all it’s glorious simplicity, was accessible the way poetry seldom is – a testament to his genius." —Nick Burton, PIF Magazine

Charles Bukowski (1920-1994) published his first story when he was twenty-four and began writing poetry at the age of thirty-five. His first book of poetry was published in 1959; he went on to publish more than forty-five books of poetry and prose, including books published by City Lights Publishers such as Notes of a Dirty Old Man, More Notes of a Dirty Old Man, The Most Beautiful Woman in Town, Tales of Ordinary Madness, Portions from a Wine-Stained Notebook, Absence of the Hero and The Bell Tolls for No One.


A compilation of Charles Bukowski's underground articles from his column "Notes of a Dirty Old Man" appears here in book form. Bukowski's reasoning for self-describing himself as a 'dirty old man' rings true in this book.

"People come to my door—too many of them really—and knock to tell me Notes of a Dirty Old Man turns them on. A bum off the road brings in a gypsy and his wife and we talk . . . . drink half the night. A long distance operator from Newburgh, N.Y. sends me money. She wants me to give up drinking beer and to eat well. I hear from a madman who calls himself 'King Arthur' and lives on Vine Street in Hollywood and wants to help me write my column. A doctor comes to my door: 'I read your column and think I can help you. I used to be a psychiatrist.' I send him away . . ."

"Bukowski writes like a latter-day Celine, a wise fool talking straight from the gut about the futility and beauty of life . . ." —Publishers Weekly

"These disjointed stories gives us a glimpse into the brilliant and highly disturbed mind of a man who will drink anything, hump anything and say anything without the slightest tinge of embarassment, shame or remorse. It's actually pretty hard not to like the guy after reading a few of these semi-ranting short stories." —Greg Davidson, curiculummag.com

Charles Bukowski was born in Andernach, Germany on August 16, 1920, the only child of an American soldier and a German mother. Bukowski published his first story when he was twenty-four and began writing poetry at the age of thirty-five. His first book of poetry was published in 1959; he went on to publish more than forty-five books of poetry and prose, including Pulp (Black Sparrow, 1994), Screams from the Balcony: Selected Letters 1960-1970 (1993), and The Last Night of the Earth Poems (1992). Other Bukowski books published by City Lights Publishers include More Notes of a Dirty Old Man, The Most Beautiful Woman in Town, Tales of Ordinary Madness, Portions from a Wine-Stained Notebook, and Absence of the Hero. He died of leukemia in San Pedro on March 9, 1994.


These mad immortal stories, now surfaced from the literary underground, have addicted legions of American readers, even though the high literary establishment continues to ignore them. In Europe, however (particularly in Germany, Italy, and France where he is published by the great publishing houses), he is critically recognized as one of America's greatest realist writers.

"Collections such as The Most Beautiful Woman in Town (1983) . . . showcase Bukowski's impressive narrative and creative abilities in stories that most often take place in bars and dingy apartments but are not simply about sex and alcohol. They're about staying alive in a world where the only choice for the majority of us is to face a firing squad in an office every day—the post office, in Bukowski's case—or maintain a commitment to creativity as we struggle to pay for food and a meager place to live." —Adam Perry, Santa Fe Reporter

Charles Bukowski was born in Andernach, Germany on August 16, 1920, the only child of an American soldier and a German mother. At the age of three, he came with his family to the United States and grew up in Los Angeles. He attended Los Angeles City College from 1939 to 1941, then left school and moved to New York City to become a writer. His lack of publishing success at this time caused him to give up writing in 1946 and spurred a ten-year stint of heavy drinking. After he developed a bleeding ulcer, he decided to take up writing again. He worked a wide range of jobs to support his writing, including dishwasher, truck driver and loader, mail carrier, guard, gas station attendant, stock boy, warehouse worker, shipping clerk, post office clerk, parking lot attendant, Red Cross orderly, and elevator operator. He also worked in a dog biscuit factory, a slaughterhouse, a cake and cookie factory, and he hung posters in New York City subways.

Bukowski published his first story when he was twenty-four and began writing poetry at the age of thirty-five. His first book of poetry was published in 1959; he went on to publish more than forty-five books of poetry and prose, including Pulp (Black Sparrow, 1994), Screams from the Balcony: Selected Letters 1960-1970 (1993), and The Last Night of the Earth Poems (1992). City Lights Publishers have published more of his works including Absence of a the Hero, Portions of a Wine-Stained Notebook, Notes of a Dirty Old Man, Tales of Ordinary Madness, and The Bell Tolls for No One. He died of leukemia in San Pedro on March 9, 1994.


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