Sunday, 21 April 2013

Charles Bukowski- Notes of a Dirty Old Man

Notes of a Dirty Old Man
Virgin
 Charles Bukowski
1969

Other Bukowski Reviews; Post Office - Factotum - Women - Ham on Rye - Tales of Ordinary Madness - Notes of a Dirty Old Man

"no pain means the end of feeling; each of our joys is a bargain with the devil
***
the difference between Art and Life is that Art is more bearable."

After exposing myself to the drug that is Bukowski for the first time with the seminal Post Office, I knew I'd probably love everything he'd ever written. Naturally it took me about a year to start reading more, but by god I've done it, and here's a hastily written review to prove it. I've got three other Bukowski novels in the cabinet now, so I can safely predict that I'll finish reading the complete Bukowski in about forty-two years.

As has been shown here, I'm a fan of reading various collected editions of shorter works by a favourite author, like Orwell, Thompson and Sir Terry, for example, and there's something about the unrelenting power and pace of Bukowski's prose that I felt would make Notes of a Dirty Old Man a memorable read at the very least. One of a few Bukowski compilations, this edition compiles fifty-seven editions of his column published in L.A.'s' short-lived tabloid Open City, published from '67 to '69. Each of the short articles is at least as surreal as the previous one, and I can only imagine and dream of reading it in the original weekly installments. Reading them consecutively as they're published here is almost an overwhelming experience.

As he is widely known for, Bukowski uses his page space to tell kaleidoscopic visions of his real life experiences, with snarling, aggressive narration. Many of the stories are almost completely obscene, and vary in their narrative coherency. On a few separate occasions Bukowski proclaims his disdain for the work of some of his contemporaries, particularly William Burroughs, though it was quickly apparent to me that much of Bukowski's presentation resembles the style of Naked Lunch, in their bizarre odysseys of semi-recognisable beatnik culture mired in surreal expressions of obscenity.

Bukowski is at heart a poet, and much of my enjoyment of this book comes from the power and rhythm of each of his sentences, where sanity is sacrificed for art. As such I read this book in small portions, finding it works better to savour a briefer taste of the strangeness. It was still over quickly though, as I find Bukowski strangely comfortable to read despite the aggression and downbeat exultation of twisted hedonism.

I think I've come over a bit wordy today, I might need a lie down.