cover image Screams from the Balcony

Screams from the Balcony

Charles Bukowski. Ecco, $16.99 (384pp) ISBN 978-0-87685-914-8

This wonderful collection of letters chronicles Bukowski's life from his first days as a poet having meager success through his resignation from his postal job to pursue writing as his sole source of income. In between, the letters reveal in raw and uncensored fashion how a hard-drinking, hard-living man followed his own vision of poetic truth and artistic integrity. Earlier letters are written to the few editors, poets and admirers who had become aware of Bukowski's wild poetry. In them, we see the 40-year-old author struggling to make ends meet through an alcoholic stupor of which he is neither ashamed nor apologetic. We read of his thrill as his first book appears-- directly in the aftermath of the assassination of JFK. Even as his fame grows and his friends are convinced that he has made it, Bukowski remains in ill health and financial insecurity. The honesty, humor and lack of pretension in these letters make them a must for Bukowski fans and an engaging read for anyone interested in literary lives. Reproductions of letters and an afterword by Cooney round out the volume nicely. (Jan.)