I was introduced to Charles Bukowski’s writing when I was a sophomore in college. Some hippie from Humbolt County came up to visit a roommate and told me to read him. I’m glad I listened. He is now one of my favorite authors. I fell in love with him almost immediately. That semester my drink, when we went out, was half-and-half whiskey and waters. I found myself going to the bar more, and paying attention to the people who were there. I saw the romance in dark, dingy, rent-by-the-week hotels. I fully realized the allure of the racetrack. I stayed away from the fighting though – I saw no cause to injure myself. I remember I saw a signed copy of his book in the library and schemed out a plan to sneak it past the alarms. However, shortly after I finished the plan and recruited the necessary accomplices, the library flooded and I graduated shortly after that. I still wonder if that book is there.
I’ve read all of his novels but Post Office. This is because I want something to hold onto. Something to read on my death bed. I’ve also read most of his short stories. Over the last few years, I’ve been in the slow process of reading his poems. I keep a book of them in the shitter with me and whenever I have to go bust out a few, I open the current book of poems and bust a few of those out too. A while back I just finished The Bone Palace Ballet, a collection of mostly newer poems that were put together posthumously. It was pretty good. Great shitter reading material. And you know what? I think Bukowski would take that as one of his best compliments.