Sunday, January 24, 2010

Myself and Bukowski

Randomly someone will mention Bukowski me.

This has always been strange to me.

I've read every novel and short story of Bukowski

But I've also read everything or almost everything by

Jean Paul Sartre
Ezra Pound
Erskine Caldwell
Richard Wright
Simone De Beauvoir
Albert Camus
Hunter S. Thompson
Jean Rhys
Richard Yates
Easton Ellis
Kathy Acker
Oscar Wilde
T.S. ELiot
Langston Hughes
Sigmund Freud
B.F. Skinner

I think this Bukowski relation is because of the objects or subjects discussed in my writing.

Bukowski and I have had similiar lives

He grew up during the great depression

I grew up in the Youngstown area which during my childhood had an unemployment rate of 20 to 30 percent.

The steel mills closed in 1977, i was born in 1980, there was a terrible economic depression, mental depression, and moral bankruptcy.

My father is a mean a meatcutter, his father was a mean blue collar asshole too.

His mother wasn't so good, and neither was mine.

So a common theme there.

Most of the people in my books are blue collar and their lives are pretty pathetic. The people in my books lack ambition, are bitter, and generally don't know how to feel about things.

So there is a common theme.

I write a lot about drinking, strippers, drugs, and sex because those are the happy things of a person without money.

I would very much like to write about a vacation to Europe.

If someone would like me to write about a vacation to Europe and they want to pay for it, I would be happy to write that book.

So I understand that relation.

But to go on:

Bukowski is a lot like Celine. He was like the American Celine, a man going around having experiences and then writing about his emotions concerning those experiences.

The only person that has compared me to Celine has been Jim Chapman.

Bukowski stylistically had a lot in common with Hemingway. Bukowski's paragraphs were about the same size and his dialogue worked the same way.

Before I wrote The Human War and The Condemned I had only one Bukowski Ham on Rye, and it was like on a Tuesday in high school. I read it and didn't think about it again.

I ended up reading all of Bukowski when I was like 22 because a girl I know named Ashley who killed herself six months ago let me borrow like two of his books. I think Burning Babies has some Bukowski tones to it, I will admit that.

The Human War and The Condemned were mainly influenced by Beckett, Marcel Proust, Jean Paul Sartre and Wittgenstein.

I really liked Beckett's absurd dialogue, I liked how everyone in his plays just talked without meaning.

I like how Proust just exists and feels.

Sartre's existentialism influenced how I constructed characters.

And Wittgenstein made me want my lines to be really sharp and clear.

When I was like 24 I read Chekhov, Yates, Richard Wright and Erskine Caldwell which influenced Treatise, The Insurgent and Best Behavior.

I think if you have read those four authors you would know that my style and the way I look at characters and how to construct scenes has more to do with them and not Bukowski.

Like this blog post

I don't think this has anything to do with Bukowski.

I think this is in the spirit of maybe Nietzsche or Yates.

The narrator is constantly asking himself, "Why am I behaving like this?"

I want to create the constant epiphany.

Can a person constantly be realizing why they are behaving a certain way?

I don't think Bukowski was really concerned with why people were behaving certain ways.

If there's a drunk woman doing weird shit in a Bukowski story, Bukowski doesn't care, he thinks it is amusing.

Bukowski doesn't care about why his dad behaves so badly in Ham on Rye, the child is the victim, there is no real story about the father, no reason for his punishing of young Hank.

Someone said that I am more honest than Bukowski. I think that also, to be arrogant like Bukowski.

But I don't think Bukowski was totally trying to be honest. A lot of best stories were just little five page things about random events that didn't happen to Hank Chinaski. I'm in a computer lab and don't have access to my books at this moment. But later this week I will post the title of like ten Bukowski short stories that I enjoy. I don't think horse racing are in any of them.

Randomly Bukowski could tell a really good little story.

I have hardly ever told a good story.

I'm completely incapable of telling a good story.

Here are two stories I wrote I like

The Italian Princess and Visiting my Sister.

Both of these 'short stories' have no story to them.

My style if it exists

is that for the most

there is a narrator

and he is alone

and has no one to talk to

no one will listen

to what he has to say

so he says it to the audience

he imagines

that he steps out onto a stage

sits down

on a hard wood folding chair

he or she lights a cigarette

takes a drink

and politely rambles to the audience

the audience sits





the audience

knows exactly

what the person is saying

they know they have the same problems

but they are embarrassed of saying it themselves

so they let the person on the stage say it

and after the performer is done with their monologue

The audience attacks the stage and kills the performer

for revealing their secrets

many years later

the body of the performer is paraded around the streets

and the mothers cry

while their ninos hold their knees

the middle aged men who refuse to shed tears in public

defend his dead body with their fists


Anonymous said...

i've also read every novel and short story collection charles bukowski ever released and, as such, i understand why people would make comparisons between your writing and his.

however, more than that, i think the bigger link your work has to that of bukowski's is how you both come off as decent people, regardless of some of the more sordid things you've both done.

and that's not something a writer can teach himself how to do; you either gots it or you don't.

for example, i was put-off by many parts of "women" due to how hank chinaski used so many of the women mentioned in the book, yet there was never a point where i hated him or even disliked him; to me he was always a sympathetic character, despite some of his behavior.

for a much more poetic explanation of what i mean, simply read bukowski's poem, "bluebird."


p.s. 1: i believe you're lumped into the tao lin circle of suck, which is unfair because your stuff is very good.

p.s. 2: i don't know if your writing is or isn't more honest than bukowski's but i will say this: as far as i can remember bukowski always described the women in his life in glowing terms when it came to their physical beauty, yet in the documentary about bukowski, "born into this," one of his former flings who was interviewed had a beard. like a real beard.

it was sad but also impressive.

Bambi Almendinger said...

I decided to study chemistry after reading a Bukowski story in Run With the Hunted.

mi patria es la literatura said...

Can a man not write about strippers withought being compared to Bukowski? Bukowski had the stripper, alcoholic, poor person market cornered : (

Pero yo creo que tus historias son muy chevere y yo no puedo pensar de otro escritor que escriba como voz.



david miller said...


i liked this post.

i couldn't get matador to pay for a european vacation yet, but i could get you $25 for a 'travel story' that took place right where you lived.

we could start with that and then maybe downstream who knows--we get press trips that come up a lot that i feel like need to have the shit torn out of them.

for some reason you seem an ideal 'journo' for that.

sarah san said...

you tell 'em

Anonymous said...

You strike me as more similar to Bukowski than Yates because Bukowski wrote in the first person about lots of things that were wrong about things and people around him. His protagonists (himself) came off as sympathetic.

Yates wrote cynically about himself and the world as well, but in the third person, and his characters (although they were based on himself) are also always deluding themselves and don't come off as sympathetic at all.

Also both you and Bukowski write poetry as well as memoirs. And you and Bukowski do say some good things about people, while Yates just trashes just about everything and everyone.

adam said...

Strange. I always associated you with the Beowulf poet.

brittany wallace said...

funny, i always thought your writing resembled mitch albom

Mark O'Neill said...

John Dolan also compared you to Celine.

It was his piece that got me interested in your writing. You've never reminded me too much of Bukowski; I'd agree it's a bit of a lazy comparison. In terms of "honesty" Buk is completely honest about his singular experience - so he felt treated like shit as a kid, and that's what he writes in Ham on Rye. He doesn't feel burdened by context, by motive of anyone but himself, and that's a valid position - for him.

You're doing something else. Outside of Celine, who manages to delineate cruel people while providing context, Yates is definitely closer, but where Yates constructs these doomed lives and examines them in terms of their internal action, you keep up a flow of rhetoric along with it that's got a really powerful sweep. So you seem to me like a 'social writer' with really apparent ferocity. It might just be bluntness people are thinking of when they mention you and Buk.

ryan manning said...


Anonymous said...

I think more contemporary writing comes from Bukowski (and John Fante) than anyone would care to admit, especially the academic lit crowd, who continue to discount him. Bukowski was not reflective and examining, closer to raw reportage, and hilarious because of it, he made no assessments and found things as they are. There is a load of writing out there that is in the end is just cleaned-up intellectualized Bukowski lite, but I wouldn't characterize Noah Cicero's work like this. Although there is a more sympathetic and understanding view of Bukowski emerging, and this is bound to happen over time, in his flophouse heyday Bukowski would just as soon attack you with a broken bottle than discuss poetry and this is where his best work came from.

Marcos said...

I think Bukowski worked a lot harder at impressing the reader than you do. I see his writing as generally self-mythologizing. I like a lot of his work--especially his shorter pieces--but I certainly wouldn't call him honest. He's too much of a showboat for that. Just look at those clips of him on youtube, sly-smiling the camera while he compares a good poem to beer shit. He loves being 'on stage.'

What I've read of your writing doesn't seem so eager to impress. I think you're more honest than Bukowski.

somebody said...

























Anonymous said...

Anybody who writes about the lower class will be compared to Bukowski. Especially by those who do not read a lot. The same way a realist writer in the middle of the twentieth century was probably always compared to Hemingway.

日月神教-任我行 said...