When I first pulled it out I marvelled at how the publishers had aged the cover as if it had been left to mellow amongst the emptied bottles of wine and discarded betting slips on the floor of "a 6 dollar a week/room/in Chinatown".
On second inspection I noted the wine stains and candle wax were mine from when I was living not that far from London's Chinatown and my books (and I) lived in piles on my living room floor (mind you, rent was a bit higher). Let's just say I was no Emily Dickinson.
Same as a lot of others, mostly male, I am attracted to tales of his experiences and such a life lived. The poems smack of "loving, fucking, eating, shitting" with additional high- and low-lights provided by drinking and gambling.
Some poems burst with bravado, like when "My Boy Bobby" came in and then a "beautiful whore" showed him "all the tricks of wonderland" whilst they listened to Carmen, although he confesses "days and nights like that just don't happen too often". Most others paint a bleaker picture, shot through with wild energy and cadaverous lethargy.
I recommend reading a whole volume like this. Taken as a whole, you embrace the world of extremes, drunken memories recounted as if covered by a film of dirt suddenly pierced by bright, sinuous flashes of nature. I loved the energy of the verse and palpable longing of "18 cars full of men thinking of what could have been":
"I saw a woman in greenThere is nastiness and violence to be stomached here, same as in the house of any hardcore drunk. He prowls and pads catlike through his poems and life, lolling with one evil eye open and watchful, then exploding into vicious hissing action. Although I confess I laughed out loud at the scenario he describes in "what seems to be the trouble, gentlemen?" when the police break into a hotel room where:
all rump and breast and dizziness running across the street.
she was as sexy as a green and drunken antelope..."
"I had the sofa in front of the doorSaving the best 'til last, the absolute highlight are those mourning for his dead lover Jane. I was moved to tears by "With All the Love I Had, Which Was Not Enough" which I would encourage you to read (hence link), the last image of the forlorn, child-like lover gently sobbing "but/they will not/give her back to me" killed me.
and the chain on,
the 2nd movement of Brahms' First Symphony
and my hand halfway up the ass of a broad old enough to be my
Yeah, so I love it - some of you will, some of you won't. Oh, and I also saw Factotum recently which is another film based on one of Bukowski's works (first film like this was Barfly) and it was pretty good. So also a DVD recommendation for those of you who can't be bothered to read the book. And for the rest of you, I'll leave you with some online footage (it's a documentary cut into parts) that I just spent way too long watching.
Note on formatting: I now find that line spacing weirdness after block quotes is a bug. If you've got this far, you can forgive me, I'm sure.