cover image Come On In!: New Poems

Come On In!: New Poems

Charles Bukowski, . . Ecco, $27.50 (279pp) ISBN 978-0-06-057705-6

Bukowski's unmistakable persona—an ex-down-and-outer who wrote of racetracks, booze and loneliness in ragged, self-confident, free verse—made him one of the country's most popular poets long before he died in 1994; 11 years later, death has not slowed down his production. This ninth posthumous volume of new verse (following Slouching Toward Nirvana closely) gathers everything devotees cherish and expect: horses and bets, lousy SROs, unreliable women, sexual conquests, sexual disgust, barbs at highbrow rivals, advice to so-called losers (as he once was) to have confidence in themselves (as he did) and a befuddled acceptance of late fame. "Welcome to my wormy hell," the first line in the volume reads, and similar notes of not-quite-comic self-pity occur throughout, as when "the x-bum" reminds himself "that there was no bottom to life." These poems differ little from those in his other late volumes and may not win him many new fans: given the size of his existing following, however, this book won't need new ones. (Jan.)