"I don't hate people...I just feel better when they're not around."--Charles Bukowski.
When I was a college student, I had the habit of checking my friends bookcases to see what they were reading. I'd see books by Milan Kundera, Gabriel Garcia-Marquez, Herman Hesse. Looking on a lower shelf, tucked away in a corner perhaps, I'd often see multiple well-worn titles by Charles Bukowski. The message was clear: high-brow reading was necessary but Bukowski was pure fun.
Charles Bukowski was a poet of the profane. A student of the gritty streets, he wrote about the shadow side of America. Prostitutes, dingy bars, human cruelty, lonely trysts. He was a brutal drunk, a misogynist, a self-admitted louse. But he was also a prolific writer and at times a sensitive poet with a twisted sense of humor.
Born in Germany in 1920, he grew up in Los Angeles son to an abusive, alcoholic father. Bukowski began writing (and drinking) in his teens. He struggled for decades, toiling as an on-again/off-again postal worker until 1969 when he published his first novel "Post Office" at age 49. He went on to publish more than 60 books in his life.
Hollywood has made multiple movies about Bukowski ("Barfly," "Factotum," "Tales of Ordinary Madness") and his writing remains as popular as ever. Bukowski died of leukemia in 1994 and his funeral was conducted by Buddhist monks. His old De Longpre Avenue Apartment in Hollywood is now an official landmark. His gravestone features a graphic of a boxer and the zen inspired epitaph "Don't try." (woodcuttingfool.blogspot.com)