I heard of Bukowski for the first time when I was 14 years old. Someone told me I had to read Tales of Ordinary Madness and I read it in a frenzy. I drank it. Every single drop. As if it was a very refreshing drink after I had mowed the lawn on a hot summer day. This was just what I needed. I wanted more!!! A few month later, my upstairs neighbor, Denis Vanier, happened to be one of the best poets I had ever met in person and was friends with. One day I guess he thought I needed to be educated and he lent me a tape of the Velvet Underground he had made himself plus South of No North, Factotum and Women. God! I realised how thirsty I still was!!
I needed more of that pure, bloody, gloomy Bukowski sunshine! Reading this guy made me cry, laugh, lusty, detached and very thirsty for more!! These books in my mind were the best books I had ever read. I had to know more about the guy. The Internet wasn’t invented so I had to read Ham on Rye which to me is his best novel ever. So to the point, so devoid of superficial emotions about his childhood, Buk is truly a fighter. He’s a tank, he’s at the fort and he’s the pilot who rides the airplane and gets to see the Earth and its inhabitants like little ants but is able to descend and inhabit and caricature any of them at will.
I have often wondered why reading Bukowski was always able to bring my spirit up even though what he wrote was often brutally true and gloomy at times. God the guy as such a sense of humor and a take on life that is solid. So solid it resists any analysis, religion or ideology. God bless him because I felt less alone in the world and I felt so relieved that one can write and be brutally honest about his life. make himself so vulnerable and available and at the same time so strong and resolved. One can sense that there is no good reason to not be able to write. Bukowski wrote precisely about those times. Buk managed to make you feel that every insignificant thing in your life is worth interest and like Warhol painting a Campbell soup can, every little thing and person is like magic and an art subject.
I was happy and relieved when I read Hollywood to see that Chinaski was now leading a happy sober life and was in love. It’s one thing to be a Henry Chinasky but it’s another thing to carry the personna to the grave. But unlike what it says on his tombstone; I’m gonna try!! In my own way of course because I know there will always be only one, unique and brilliant writer like Charles Bukowski.