Maybe I’m missing something, but I never understood the appeal of macho, abusive, self-destructive, solipsistic, childishly offensive Bukowski.
This one was open to interpretation.
I wonder, following that description of B, exactly what you might need to find in order to understand his appeal?
If that question isn’t rhetorical, it’s still tough to answer, because it’s sort of like being asked to prove a negative. Not my job.
It was made more tongue in cheek than anything, and maybe even some tone-policing, frankly. But it strikes me that if you find a writer to be all the things you mention (macho, abusive, self-destructive, solipsistic, childishly offensive), then why lead with “maybe I’m missing something”? Doesn’t strike me that there’s anything you might find, or even want to find, in Bukowski’s writing to like. [e.g. Maybe I’m missing something, but I don’t know why people like that blowhard, warmonger, homophobic tyrant Dick Cheney.]
Why the hell did I write that in the first place? Don’t know. I’m a somewhat fan of his, I like that he did pretty much what he wanted and didn’t hide it or who he became (as opposed to HST, who became a sort of caricature of his own writing). Someone on GoodReads posted that he was a “fabulous asshole” and that seems about right.
As for the Big Mouth strip–I prefer what I see in my head to Moriarty’s interpretation, but the dancing buildings and bearded guy in the third panel struck me as a Grateful Dead poster that never got made.
Okay, fair enough. I wrote “Maybe I’m missing something” because I see him rec’d by a lot of people I generally respect and appreciate recs from. It was also an invitation of sorts to explain what others think I’m missing, so thanks for your explanation, even though it doesn’t make me any more inclined to try reading him again.
I did watch both movies based on him and his work, and once again found little of sustaining value that emerged above and beyond the apparent attributes that I attributed to his work above. I do appreciate artists who live on their own terms, rejecting absurd societal norms and expectations and so on, but not when they do so in such abusive terms. Be against something bad, but also be for something good, sez I.
I hear that and kinda figured that’s what was going on. I think I started reading his stuff because he published a lot of books through independent/small publishers, and those books tended to be carried by the places I shop for books (and they were usually cheap too). And as I’ve just moved, only two or three days ago I was putting Shakespeare never did this onto my bookshelf–maybe I’ll go reread it to see what his work does for me now, and if it’s anything worthwhile I’ll certainly mention it.
Tanget: Although I’ve read a lot through my life, it bothers me that I can’t immediately recall the words of writers I really liked, save a few exceptions. I think that’s why I [sometimes] envy hard-core religious types because they have their religious book and will read and reread it down to the last period, ostensibly gaining an exceptionally deep understanding of the text. Maybe scarcity in reading material is a good thing?
Interesting tangent. For me, I don’t worry as much as I used to about that kind of instant recall, now that All The Words are right at hand on my smartphone.
Do you stick to any particular genre of writer, or are you an omnivorous reader?
Novels, mostly, “literary” ones, but sometimes others considered less so. Digging Daniel Woodrell these days.
I believe I’ve got a copy of Winter’s Bone on the unread shelf…I just started the John Dos Passos ‘American’ trilogy, but it hasn’t caught quite yet so I’m cautiously nosing around for something else (as in other than the other two books I’m reading right now).
There’s a nice description of his work in his Wikipedia article as a “detailed depiction of a certain taboo male fantasy: the uninhibited bachelor, slobby, anti-social, and utterly free”. This tends to dovetail with my experience of the Bukowski fan as someone who is trying to break free of their own restrictive neuroses and see him as an id with legs.
I think I’ve read five of his now, and Winter’s Bone struck me as by far the best, both the story and the writing. Hope you like it.
The appeal? It’s the same appeal that drew me to underground comics and punk rock. Art is not always pretty. ha
I get it, though, how Bukowski is not for everyone. The first time I read anything of his, when I was a teenager, I was horrified. Well, then again, I was horrified by MAD magazine as a little kid. And now I’m a cartoonist…
Maybe try reading Last Night of the Earth Poems? The older, mellower, wiser Bukowski, that’s my favourite.
This topic was automatically closed after 5 days. New replies are no longer allowed.