cover image More Notes of a Dirty Old Man: The Uncollected Columns

More Notes of a Dirty Old Man: The Uncollected Columns

Charles Bukowski, edited and with an afterword by Stephen Caloone. City Lights, $16.95 trade paper (198p) ISBN 978-0-87286-543-3

Bukowski's gritty ode to unapologetic alcoholism, deviant sex, and gambling at the track picks up where his first collection of autobiographical newspaper columns left off, in 1969, with more assorted glimpses into his life as a reclusive poet. The columns are presented as vignettes or short stories that frequently switch perspectives from the obviously autobiographical Bukowski himself to several aliases (Robert, Pete, Ralph). What results is a disjointed narrative that captures an ambience of reality and coheres to a central theme of desolation and depravity with the occasional illuminating flicker of optimism. Bukowski is the hopeless writer, lost in the woods only yards from civilization, the enabler taking a gambling addict to the track, or standing by as a violent friend rapes a young girl. He is also the considerate bachelor drinking with a lonely woman, the respectful interviewee helping out a shy journalist. Proving that misanthropic and humanitarian are two sides of the same tarnished coin and that stagnation and metamorphosis are equally related, this collection arcs subtly from the banal side of addiction to the most extreme forms of love and hate. Bukowski's prose is still relevant, still shocking, still transcendent. (Sept.)