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Henry Charles Bukowski

Born August 16, 1920(1920-08-16)
Andernach, Germany
Died March 9, 1994 (aged 73)
Los Angeles, California, USA
Occupation Novelist, Poet, Short story writer, Columnist
Nationality American
Literary movement Meat School,[1][2] Outsider[3]

Henry Charles Bukowski, born Heinrich Karl Bukowski, (August 16, 1920 – March 9, 1994) was an American poet, novelist, and short story writer. Bukowski's writing was heavily influenced by the geography and atmosphere of his home city of Los Angeles, and is marked by an emphasis on the ordinary lives of poor Americans, the act of writing, alcohol, relationships with women, and the drudgery of work. A prolific author, Bukowski wrote thousands of poems, hundreds of short stories, and six novels, eventually having over 60 books in print. In 1986 Time called Bukowski a "laureate of American lowlife."[4]

Contents

Early years

Charles Bukowski was born in Andernach, Germany to Heinrich Bukowski and Katharina Fett. His mother was a native German who met his father, a German-American serviceman, after World War I had ended. Bukowski's parents were Roman Catholic.[5] He often said that he had been born out of wedlock, but Andernach records show that his parents were in fact married a month prior to his birth.[6]

After the collapse of the German economy following the First World War, the family moved to the United States in 1923, originally settling in Baltimore, Maryland. To sound more American, Bukowski's parents began calling him "Henry" and altered the pronunciation of the family name from Bu-kov-ski ([bu'kɔvski]) to Bu-cow-ski ([bu'kaʊski]; the surname is of Slavic origin). After saving money, the family moved to South Los Angeles in 1930, where his father's family lived.[6] During Bukowski's childhood, his father was often unemployed, and Bukowski claimed that his father was violent, later described in his novel Ham on Rye.

Bukowski was bullied by Anglo neighbour children who mocked his German last name and the German-style clothing that his parents insisted he wear. During his youth Bukowski was socially inept and withdrawn - a condition later exacerbated by an extreme case of acne.[7]

In his early teens Bukowski had an epiphany when he was introduced to alcohol by his friend William "Baldy" Mullinax, son of an alcoholic surgeon. "This [alcohol] is going to help me for a very long time," he later wrote, describing the genesis of his chronic alcoholism; or, as he saw it, the genesis of a method he could utilise to come to more amicable terms with his own life.[8]

After graduating from Los Angeles High School, Bukowski attended Los Angeles City College for two years, taking courses in art, journalism, and literature.

On July 22, 1944, with World War II still raging, Bukowski was arrested by FBI agents in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where he was living at the time, on suspicion of draft evasion and was held for 17 days in Philadelphia's Moyamensing Prison. Sixteen days later he failed a physical psychological exam and was given a Selective Service Class of 4-F (unfit for military service).[9]

Early writing

At 24, Bukowski's short story "Aftermath of a Lengthy Rejection Slip" was published in Story magazine. Two years later, another short story, "20 Tanks From Kasseldown," was published in Portfolio III's broadside collection. Failing to break into the literary world, Bukowski grew disillusioned with the publication process and quit writing for almost a decade, a time that he has referred to as a "ten-year-drunk." These "lost years" formed the basis for his later autobiographical chronicles, although the veracity of his accounts has been frequently called into question. During part of this period he continued living in Los Angeles, working at a pickle factory for a short time, but also spent some time roaming about the United States, working sporadically and staying in cheap rooming houses.[5] In the early 1950s Bukowski took a job as a letter carrier with the U.S. Postal Service in Los Angeles, but resigned just before three years service.

In 1955, he was hospitalised for a bleeding ulcer which was nearly fatal. When he left the hospital, he began to write poetry.[5] In 1957, he agreed to marry small-town Texas poet Barbara Frye, sight unseen, but they divorced in 1959. Frye insisted that their separation had nothing to do with literature, though she often doubted his skill as a poet. According to Howard Sounes's "Charles Bukowski: Locked in the Arms of a Crazy Life" she later died under mysterious circumstances in India. Following his divorce, Bukowski continued drinking and writing poetry.[5]

1960s

By 1960 he had returned to the post office in Los Angeles, where he continued to work as a letter filing clerk for over a decade. In 1962 Bukowski was traumatised by the death of Jane Cooney Baker. She had been his first real romantic attachment. Bukowski turned his grief and devastation into a series of poems and stories lamenting her passing. Jane is considered to be the greatest love of his life and was the most important in a long series of 'Muses' who inspired his writing, according to biographers Jory Sherman, Souness, Brewer, and Harrison[citation needed]. In 1964, a daughter, Marina Louise Bukowski, was born to Bukowski and his then live-in girlfriend Frances Smith, whom he fondly referred to as a "white-haired hippy", "shack-job" and "old snaggle-tooth".

Jon and Louise Webb, now recognised as giants of the post-war 'small-press movement', published The Outsider literary magazine and featured some of Bukowski's poetry. Under the Loujon Press imprint, they published Bukowski's It Catches My Heart In Its Hands (1963), and Crucifix in a Deathhand, in 1965.

Beginning in 1967, Bukowski wrote the column "Notes of A Dirty Old Man" for Los Angeles' Open City, an underground newspaper. When Open City was shut down in 1969, the column was picked up by the Los Angeles Free Press along with NOLA Express in New Orleans, Louisiana. In 1969, Bukowski and his friend Neeli Cherkovski launched their own mimeographed literary magazine, Laugh Literary and Man the Humping Guns. They produced three issues over the next two years. The magazine had no effect whatsoever on their careers or literature, and is only remembered because of Bukowski's association with it.

Black Sparrow years

In 1969, he accepted an offer from Black Sparrow Press publisher John Martin and quit his post office job to dedicate himself to full-time writing. He was then 49 years old. As he explained in a letter at the time, "I have one of two choices — stay in the post office and go crazy ... or stay out here and play at writer and starve. I have decided to starve."[10] Less than one month after leaving the postal service, he finished his first novel, Post Office. As a measure of respect for Martin's financial support and faith in a then relatively unknown writer, Bukowski published almost all of his subsequent major work with Black Sparrow Press, although, an avid supporter of the small independent presses, he continued to submit poems and short stories to thousands of small presses until the time of his death.

With increasing notoriety and growing fame, Bukowski embarked on a series of love affairs and one-night stands. His most important relationships were with Linda King, a poet and sculptress, Liza Williams, a recording executive, and Pamela O'Brien, a red-headed single mother. All of these relationships provided material for his stories and poems. Another important relationship was with "Tanya", pseudonym of "Amber O'Neil" (also a pseudonym), described in Bukowski's "Women" as a pen-pal that evolved into a week-end tryst at Bukowski's modest DeLongpre residence in L.A. in the 1970s. "Amber O'Neil" later wrote a book about the affair entitled "Blowing My Hero". The book was not published due to inclusion of several love letters written by Bukowski.

Charles Bukowski in 1990

In 1976, Bukowski met Linda Lee Beighle, a health food restaurant owner, aspiring actress and devotee of Meher Baba, leader of an Indian religious society. Two years later, Bukowski moved from the East Hollywood area, where he had lived for most of his life, to the harbourside community of San Pedro,[11] the southernmost district of the City of Los Angeles. Beighle followed him and they lived together intermittently over the next two years, Bukowski sometimes tiring (he said) of the relationship and sending her on her way. They were eventually married by Manly Palmer Hall, a Canadian-born author and mystic, in 1985. Beighle is referred to as "Sara" in Bukowski's novels Women and Hollywood.

Death

Bukowski died of leukemia on March 9, 1994, in San Pedro, California, at the age of 73, shortly after completing his last novel, Pulp. The funeral rites, orchestrated by his widow, were conducted by Buddhist monks. An account of the proceedings can be found in Gerald Locklin's book Charles Bukowski: A Sure Bet.[citation needed]

His gravestone reads: "Don't Try", a phrase which Bukowski uses in one of his poems, advising aspiring writers and poets about inspiration and creativity. Bukowski explains the phrase in a 1963 letter to John William Corrington as follows:

Somebody at one of these places [...] asked me: "What do you do? How do you write, create?" You don't, I told them. You don't try. That's very important: not to try, either for Cadillacs, creation or immortality. You wait, and if nothing happens, you wait some more. It's like a bug high on the wall. You wait for it to come to you. When it gets close enough you reach out, slap out and kill it. Or if you like its looks you make a pet out of it.

[12]

In 2007 and 2008, there was a movement to save Bukowski's bungalow at 5124 De Longpre Ave. from destruction. The campaign was spearheaded by preservationist Lauren Everett. Oddly, the campaign was derided by some Bukowski fans who took exception to having their hero so recognized, claiming that such recognition lessened his 'outsider' status. (Likewise, a successful bus tour of Bukowski's former residences, places of work and other sites connected to him is generally lambasted by these same fans who object to the commercialization of his memory.) The cause was covered extensively in the local and international press, including a feature in Beatdom magazine, and was ultimately successful, with the bungalow listed as a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument called Bukowski Court.[13][14]

Work

Bukowski published extensively in small literary magazines and with small presses beginning in the early 1940s and continuing on through the early 1990s, with the poems and stories being later republished by Black Sparrow Press (now HarperCollins/ECCO) as collected volumes of his work. In the 1980s, he collaborated with illustrator Robert Crumb on a series of comic books, with Bukowski writing and Crumb providing the artwork.

Bukowski also performed live readings of his works, beginning in 1962 on radio station KPFK in Los Angeles and increasing frequency through the 1970s. He agreed to live readings as a source of income, but they took a toll on his writing and health. Heavy drinking was a featured part of the readings, along with a combative banter with the audience. By the late 1970s Bukowski's income was sufficient to give up live readings. His last international reading was given in in October 1979 in Vancouver, BC, which was released on DVD as There's Gonna be a God Damn Riot in Here[15]. In March 1980 he gave his very last reading at the Sweetwater club in Redondo Beach, which was released as Hostage on audio CD and The Last Straw on DVD[16][17].

Bukowski acknowledged Anton Chekhov, James Thurber, Franz Kafka, Knut Hamsun, Ernest Hemingway, Henry Miller, John Fante, Louis-Ferdinand Céline, Robinson Jeffers, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, D. H. Lawrence, Antonin Artaud, E.E. Cummings, and others as influences, and often spoke of Los Angeles as his favorite subject. In a 1974 interview he said, "You live in a town all your life, and you get to know every bitch on the street corner and half of them you have already messed around with. You've got the layout of the whole land. You have a picture of where you are.... Since I was raised in L.A., I've always had the geographical and spiritual feeling of being here. I've had time to learn this city. I can't see any other place than L.A."[10]

One critic has described Bukowski's fiction as a "detailed depiction of a certain taboo male fantasy: the uninhibited bachelor, slobby, anti-social, and utterly free", an image he tried to live up to with sometimes riotous public poetry readings and boorish party behaviour.[18] Since his death in 1994, Bukowski has been the subject of a number of critical articles and books about both his life and writings. His work has received relatively little attention from academic critics. ECCO continues to release new collections of his poetry, culled from the thousands of works published in small literary magazines. According to ECCO, the 2007 release The People Look Like Flowers At Last will be his final posthumous release as now all his once-unpublished work has been published.[19]

Bukowski: Born Into This, a film documenting the author's life, was released in 2003. It features contributions from Sean Penn, Tom Waits, Harry Dean Stanton and Bono (U2's song "Dirty Day" was dedicated to Charles Bukowski when released in 1993). Bukowski is known to have disliked Bono, calling him a "millionaire rock-star, a part of the establishment regardless of what he says".

In 1981, the Italian director Marco Ferreri made a film, Tales of Ordinary Madness, based on the short stories of Bukowski. Ben Gazzara played the role of Bukowski's character. Bukowski was said to have disliked the film.

In 1987, the film Barfly was released, starring Mickey Rourke as Henry Chinaski (Bukowski) and Faye Dunaway as Wanda Wilcox (his lover). Sean Penn had offered to play the part of Chinaski (Bukowski) for as little as a dollar as long as his friend Dennis Hopper would provide direction. But the European director Barbet Schroeder had invested many years and thousands of dollars in the project and Bukowski felt Schroeder deserved to make it. Mickey Rourke was ultimately chosen to play Chinaski. During filming Bukowski said of Rourke; "Mickey Rourke is a real human guy, on and off the set. And in Barfly he really came through with the acting. I felt his enjoyment and inventiveness."

A film adaptation of Factotum, starring Matt Dillon, was released in 2005.

In June 2006, Bukowski's literary archive was donated by his widow to the Huntington Library, in San Marino, California. Copies of all editions of his work published by the Black Sparrow Press are held at Western Michigan University, which purchased the archive of the publishing house after its closure in 2003.

Works

Novels

Poetry

  • It Catches My Heart in its Hands (1963)
  • Crucifix In A Deathhand (1965)
  • The Days Run Away Like Wild Horses Over the Hills (1969)
  • Mockingbird Wish Me Luck (1972)
  • Burning in Water, Drowning in Flame (1974)
  • Love is a Dog from Hell (1977)
  • My Old Man (1977)
  • Play the Piano Drunk Like a Percussion Instrument Until the Fingers Begin to Bleed a Bit (1979)
  • Dangling in the Tournefortia (1982)
  • War All the Time (1984)
  • You Get So Alone at Times That It Just Makes Sense (1986)
  • The Roominghouse Madrigals (1988)
  • Septuagenarian Stew: Stories & Poems (1990)
  • The Last Night of the Earth Poems (1996)
  • Betting on the Muse: Poems and Stories (1996)
  • Bone Palace Ballet (1998)
  • what matters most is how well you walk through the fire. (1999)
  • Open All Night (2000)
  • The Night Torn Mad with Footsteps (2001)
  • Sifting Through the Madness for the Word, the Line, the Way (2003)
  • The Flash of the Lightning Behind the Mountain (2004)
  • Slouching Toward Nirvana (2005)
  • Come On In! (2006)
  • The People Look Like Flowers At Last (2007)
  • The Pleasures of the Damned (2007)
  • The Continual Condition (2009)
  • Absence of the Hero (2010)

Short story collections

  • Flower, Fist, and Bestial Wall (1960)
  • Run With the Hunted (1962)
  • Cold Dogs in the Courtyard (1965)
  • Confessions of a Man Insane Enough to Live with Beasts (1965)
  • At Terror Street and Agony Way (1968)
  • A Bukowski Sampler (1969)
  • Erections, Ejaculations, Exhibitions, and General Tales of Ordinary Madness (1972)
  • South of No North (1973)
  • Hot Water Music (1983)
  • Tales of Ordinary Madness (1983)
  • The Most Beautiful Woman in Town (1983)
  • All's Normal Here: A Charles Bukowski Primer (1985)
  • Portions from a Wine-stained Notebook: Short Stories and Essays (2008)

Nonfiction

Films

  • Bukowski at Bellevue 1970 - Performance
  • Supervan 1976 - cameo
  • There's Gonna Be a God Damn Riot in Here - filmed in 1979, released on DVD in 2008 - Performance
  • The Last Straw - filmed in 1980, released on DVD in 2008 - Performance
  • Tales of Ordinary Madness - Movie
  • Barfly 1987 - Movie
  • Bukowski: Born Into This 2002 - Documentary
  • Factotum 2005 - Movie

Major biographies and bibliographies

  • Hugh Fox - Charles Bukowski: A Critical and Bibliographical Study (1969)
  • Neeli Cherkovski - Hank: The Life of Charles Bukowski (1991)
  • Russell Harrison - Against The American Dream: Essays on Charles Bukowski (1994)
  • Gay Brewer - Charles Bukowski: Twayne's United States Authors Series (1997)
  • Howard Sounes - Charles Bukowski: Locked in the Arms of a Crazy Life (1998)
  • Ben Pleasants - Visceral Bukowski (2004)
  • David Charlson - Charles Bukowski: Autobiographer, Gender Critic, Iconoclast
  • Charles Bukowski: Locked in the Arms of a Crazy Life by Howard Sounes (Grove Press, 1999)
  • Aaron Krumhansl - A Descriptive Bibliography of the Primary Publications of Charles Bukowski (Black Sparrow Press, 1999)
  • Sanford Dorbin - A Bibliography of Charles Bukowski (Black Sparrow Press, 1969)
  • University of Southern California Department of Special Collections
  • The True Story of C. Bukowski's Liver (in Italian: La Vera Storia del Fegato di C. Bukowski) is the first novel came out in Italy by the young poet Emanuele Podestà.[20]

References

  1. ^ http://muse.jhu.edu/login?uri=/journals/modern_fiction_studies/v047/47.1dobozy.pdf
  2. ^ http://www.enotes.com/short-story-criticism/bukowski-charles
  3. ^ http://www.dalkeyarchive.com/catalog/show_comment/362
  4. ^ "Celebrities Who Travel Well". Time. http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,961603-2,00.html. 
  5. ^ a b c d Miles, Barry. Charles Bukowski.
  6. ^ a b Sounes, Howard. Charles Bukowski: Locked in the Arms of a Crazy Life, p. 8
  7. ^ Who is Charles Bukowski?
  8. ^ Ham on Rye, pgs. 94-6
  9. ^ bukowski.net/timeline
  10. ^ a b Introduction to Charles Bukowski, by Jay Dougherty
  11. ^ Ciotti, Paul. (March 22, 1987) Los Angeles Times Bukowski: He's written more than 40 books, and in Europe he's treated like a rock star. He has dined with Norman Mailer and goes to the race track with Sean Penn. Mickey Rourke and Faye Dunaway are starring in a movie based on his life. At 66, poet Charles Bukowski is suddenly in vogue. Section: Los Angeles Times Magazine; Page 12.
  12. ^ p.49, Living on Luck: Selected Letters 1960s-1970s Volume 2
  13. ^ Wills, D. 'Saving Bukowski's Bungalow', in Wills, D. (ed.) Beatdom Vol. 2 (Mauling Press: Dundee, 2008) p. 30-33
  14. ^ The documentary "Bukowski: Born into This"
  15. ^ All Movie Guide
  16. ^ All Movie Guide
  17. ^ IMDB Entry
  18. ^ Boston Review:
  19. ^ Amazon.com: The People Look Like Flowers At Last: New Poems: Charles Bukowski: Books
  20. ^ http://www.mentelocale.it/leggere_scrivere/contenuti/index_html/id_contenuti_varint_23429

External links


Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

We're all going to die, all of us, what a circus! That alone should make us love each other but it doesn't. We are terrorized and flattened by trivialities, we are eaten up by nothing.

Charles Bukowski (16 August 19209 March 1994) was a Los Angeles, California poet and novelist sometimes mistakenly associated with Beat Generation writers because of alleged similarities of style and attitude. Bukowski's writing was heavily influenced by the geography and atmosphere of his home city of Los Angeles. He wrote more than fifty books and countless smaller pieces. He is often mentioned as an influence by contemporary authors and his style is frequently imitated.

Contents

Sourced

  • It's 4:30 in the morning, it's always 4:30 in the morning.
    • Rooming House Madrigals (1954)
  • Van Gogh writing his brother for paints
    Hemingway testing his shotgun
    Celine going broke as a doctor of medicine
    the impossibility of being human
    • "Beasts Bounding Through Time" (1986)
  • Shakespeare a plagiarist
    Beethoven with a horn stuck into his head against deafness
    the impossibility the impossibility
    Nietzsche gone totally mad
    the impossibility of being human
    all too human
    this breathing
    in and out
    out and in
    these punks
    these cowards
    these champions
    these mad dogs of glory
    moving this little bit of light toward us
    impossibly.
    • "Beasts Bounding Through Time" (1986)

Notes From a Dirty Old Man (1969)

  • If you want to know who your friends are, get yourself a jail sentence.
  • An intellectual is a man who says a simple thing in a difficult way; an artist is a man who says a difficult thing in a simple way.
  • The difference between a brave man and a coward is a coward thinks twice before jumping in the cage with a lion. The brave man doesn't know what a lion is. He just thinks he does.

Tales of ordinary madness (1967-83)

  • I was given the job of milking the cows, finally, and it got me up earlier than anybody. But it was kind of nice, pulling at those cows' tits (pg. 172).
  • Show me a man who lives alone and has a perpetually clean kitchen, and eight times out of nine I'll show you a man with detestable spiritual qualities.
  • The free soul is rare, but you know it when you see it - basically because you feel good, very good, when you are near or with them.

Factotum (1975)

  • My ambition is handicapped by my laziness.
  • Frankly, I was horrified by life, at what a man had to do simply in order to eat, sleep, and keep himself clothed. So I stayed in bed and drank. When you drank the world was still out there, but for the moment it didn’t have you by the throat.
  • "Baby," I said. "I'm a genius but nobody knows it but me."
  • That was all a man needed: hope. It was a lack of hope that discouraged a man. I remembered my New Orleans days, living on two-five cent candy bars a day for weeks at a time in order to have leisure to write. But starvation, unfortunately, didn't improve art. It only hindered it. A man's soul was rooted in his stomach. A man could write much better after eating a porterhouse steak and drinking a pint of whiskey than he could ever write after eating a nickel candy bar. The myth of the starving artist was a hoax.
  • It was true that I didn't have much ambition, but there ought to be a place for people without ambition, I mean a better place than the one usually reserved. How in the hell could a man enjoy being awakened at 6:30 a.m. by an alarm clock, leap out of bed, dress, force-feed, shit, piss, brush teeth and hair, and fight traffic to get to a place where essentially you made lots of money for somebody else and were asked to be grateful for the opportunity to do so?

Women (1978)

  • People with no morals often considered themselves more free, but mostly they lacked the ability to feel or love.
  • morals were restrictive, but they were grounded on human experience.
  • Many a good man has been put under the bridge by a woman.

Ham On Rye (1982)

  • And my own affairs were as bad, as dismal, as the day I had been born. The only difference was that now I could drink now and then, though never often enough. Drink was the only thing that kept a man from feeling forever stunned and useless. Everything else just kept picking and picking, hacking away. And nothing was interesting, nothing. The people were restrictive and careful, all alike. And I've got to live with these fuckers for the rest of my life, I thought. God, they all had assholes and sexual organs and their mouths and their armpits. They shit and they chattered and they were dull as horse dung. The girls looked good from a distance, the sun shining through their dresses, their hair. But get up close and listen to their minds running out of their mouths, you felt like digging in under a hill and hiding out with a tommy-gun. I would certainly never be able to be happy, to get married, I could never have children. Hell, I couldn't even get a job as a dishwasher.
  • The problem was you had to keep choosing between one evil or another, and no matter what you chose, they sliced a little more off you, until there was nothing left. At the age of 25 most people were finished. A whole goddamned nation of assholes driving automobiles, eating, having babies, doing everything in the worst way possible, like voting for the presidential candidate who reminded them most of themselves.

The Captain is Out to Lunch and the Sailors have taken over the Ship (1998)

  • There's nothing to mourn about death any more than there is to mourn about the growing of a flower. What is terrible is not death but the lives people live or don't live up until their death. They don't honor their own lives, they piss on their lives. They shit them away. Dumb fuckers. They concentrate too much on fucking, movies, money, family, fucking. Their minds are full of cotton. They swallow God without thinking, they swallow country without thinking. Soon they forget how to think, they let others think for them. Their brains are stuffed with cotton. They look ugly, they talk ugly, they walk ugly. Play them the great music of the centuries and they can't hear it. Most people's deaths are a sham. There's nothing left to die.
  • We're all going to die, all of us, what a circus! That alone should make us love each other but it doesn't. We are terrorized and flattened by trivialities, we are eaten up by nothing.

Letters

  • LSD, yeah, the big parade – everybody's doin' it now. Take LSD, then you are a poet, an intellectual. What a sick mob. I am building a machine gun in my closet now to take out as many of them as I can before they get me.
    • in a letter to Steven Richmond (Published in Charles Bukowski: Locked in the Arms of a Crazy Life by Howard Sounes)
  • ... don't wait for the good woman. She doesn't exist. There are women who can make you feel more with their bodies and their souls but these are the exact women who will turn the knife into you right in front of the crowd. Of course, I expect this, but the knife still cuts. The female loves to play man against man, and if she is in a position to do it there is not one who will not resist. The male, for all his bravado and exploration, is the loyal one, the one who generally feels love. The female is skilled at betrayal. and torture and damnation. Never envy a man his lady. Behind it all lays a living hell.
    • in a letter to Steven Richmond (Published in Charles Bukowski: Locked in the Arms of a Crazy Life by Howard Sounes)

Interviews

  • If I'm an ass, I should say so. If I don't, somebody else will. If I say it first, that disarms them.
    • Interview with Robert Wennersten (1974)
  • I think that everything should be made available to everybody, and I mean LSD, cocaine, codeine, grass, opium, the works. Nothing on earth available to any man should be confiscated and made unlawful by other men in more seemingly powerful and advantageous positions. More often than not Democratic Law works to the advantage of the few even though the many have voted; this, of course, is because the few have told them how to vote. I grow tired of 18th century moralities in a 20th century space-atomic age. If I want to kill myself I feel that should be my business. If I go out and hold up gas stations at night to pay for my supply it is because the law inflates a very cheap thing into an escalated war against my nerves and my soul.
    • "This Floundering Old Bastard is the Best Damn Poet in Town", interview by John Thomas, in LA Free Press (1967)
  • I found out that Hollywood is more crooked, dumber, crueler, stupider than all the books I've read about it. They didn't go deeply enough into how it lacks art, and soul, and heart— how it's really a piece of crap. There are too many hands directing, there're too many fingers in the pot, and they're all kind of ignorant about what they're doing. They're greedy, and they're vicious. So you don't get much of a movie.
    • Interview included in the documentary Bukowski: Born Into This. Discussing the movie adaptation of Barfly and his novel Hollywood.
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