Monday, September 12, 2016

On Bukowski and Blue Cheese


I admit it, I've never been a huge fan of poetry.  I like raw grit.  I like truth.  Which might explain some of my favorite books:  Johnny Got His Gun and Cancer Ward.  They're depressing.  It's not the fact that they are depressing that draws me to them, it's the raw truth in the stories.  And the fact that many stories don't have a happy ending.  Don't get me wrong, I'm American and I love when there is a happy ending.  But, not an over romanticized, unrealistic Cinderella ending.  I hate that and the romance books that disseminate that drivel.

You know how things keep popping up in your life over and over again?  And you're like what the hell does this mean?  That was Bukowski every time I was looking for a book.  There was his name staring back at me.  Alright.  Fine.  I surrender.  You win.  I'll read you.  But, only because you're supposed to be raw, gritty and I can get your work for free at the library.  Which is exactly what I did.   I placed a hold on several of his books, but the first to arrive was You Get So Alone at Times That it Just Makes Sense, one of his later works of poetry.

And I hated it.

Sure, there were probably two poems in there that I actually liked.  But, the others were abhorrent reminiscences of an old alcoholic misogynist.  Not only that, his poems were flat and uninspired.  Which had a really weird effect on me.  I needed to know why Bukowski was so revered.  Because it just didn't make any sense to me.  Making it clear to me that I needed to read even more Bukowski.  Even if I was doing it against my will.  His novel (actually a memoir with the main character's name changed to Henry Chinaski), Ham on Rye, was waiting for me on the library shelf. 

And I loved it.

In context, his life and where he came from, his poetry made sense.  The way that blue cheese (which I hate) makes sense when you pair it with port (which I also hate).  The contradictions complement each other and make something bigger and bolder than the individual components.  And it just works.  Making it clear to me that I needed to read even more Bukowski.  Even if I was doing it against my will. Again.  This time I'd give his earlier poetry a try with Burning in Water Drowning in Flame.  

And I hated it.

Sure, there were probably two poems in there that I actually liked.  But, the others were still abhorrent reminiscences of an old alcoholic misogynist.  Not only that, his poems were flat and uninspired.  Appreciating where he came from and why he became the person he was couldn't make me appreciate his poetry.  I'm just going to have to accept that I have a love-hate relationship with Bukowski.  And blue cheese.





2 comments:

Nasreen Iqbal said...

I have a love/hate relaitonship with him, too.

The voice in his writing can be fantastic at times. The cadence, the whole bit, it can be wonderful and eviable.

His content isn't always top notch, however, and it's hard to get past what an awful person he was. Unfortunately, I watched an old interview on youtube a while back where he was drunk and kicking his girlfriend.

But as I get older, I start to like more and more those artists who ride that line between brilliant and terrible. It's like th first time I hear a Nick Cave song: I have to ask myself, "Wait does this suck?"

Bukowski is like that.

Marie Loerzel said...

@Nasreen-Exactly! I felt the same revulsion/fascination after reading Burroughs Naked Lunch.

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...