Stories of the Buried Life
Reader's review: Charles Bukowski's work is fixated upon the underbelly of society, where the unctuous underachieving degenerate is glorified, low-life living is made normal, and alcoholism and crime not only flourish but are revered. In his short story 'GUTS' Bukowski describes what is the ubiquitous theme common to all of his work: 'I've always admired the villain, the outlaw, the [SOB]. I don't like the clean-shaven boy with the necktie and the good job. I like desperate men, men with broken teeth and broken minds and broken ways'I also like vile women, drunk cursing [b's] with loose stockings and sloppy mascara faces. I'm more interested in perverts than Saints. I can relax with bums because I am a bum. I don't like laws, morals, religions, rules. I don't like to be shaped by society.' Unfortunately, many readers have difficulty looking past this admission, and find him unnecessarily offensive, dismissing him as a drunken vulgarion with a typewriter. It's too bad that Bukowski was obsessed with X rated themes and language, because he wrote in a style that read fast and easy, is entertaining, and could have been accessible to a very wide audience had he chosen a 'lighter' subject. Despite all this, I cannot honestly say that I dislike his work. I fact, I find his work to be page after page of comedy and, quite frankly, liberating from the structures and confines of everyday life. Yet, at the same time, although I often find myself describing Bukowski's work as: crude, offensive, juvenile, among other things, I look past this because I do not read Bukowski's work for some profound meaning or insight to life but strictly for fun, therefore expecting little more than alcohol induced writing at times resembling no more than bar banter. However, even I, in my lingering immaturity, was shocked and repulsed by what appeared to be a casual and tacit endorsement of rape in several stories. Sometimes I feel that Bukowski writes the way he does about the things he does because he's still trying to impress the guys in his high school class, inmates, or briny sailors'pirates to be sure. If you haven't read any of his work this is a good introduction of what you'll be getting from his novels. The short stories range from excellent to good, and are better than most of the pages found in his novels, given that the nature of the short story forced Bukowski to get to the point instead of wasting paper in drunken rambling. There are numerous good shorts here, among my favorites are: 'CLASS,' where Hank Chinaski not only boxes but knocks out Ernest Hemingway; and, 'BOP BOP BEHIND THE CURTAIN,' a piece about teenage frolics to a burlesque show, and the hardships of life during the depression.