Friday, November 06, 2020

Betting on the Muse by Charles Bukowski


This 1996 release - a couple years after his death - is a collection of poems and prose put together by Bukowski's wife, Linda, from unpublished works he left to be released posthumously. Here the writing is a bit more - hell, I guess mature might be the word. Bukowski is pleased with the words and doesn't mind saying so, which can be a bit tiresome and self-conscious at times, but when he's just letting the words flow, whether in poem form or short story, it truly is some of his better writing. Not as raw as in his youth, and maybe a bit more polished, but still strong. I like that there are poems and stories (very short) combined and it's interesting that he jumps from reminiscing about his youth to talking about the hear'n'now - on his personal computer in his private room in his (relatively) expensive house, with fine wine, 6 cats, and a very understanding wife. He understands his age and that death might arrive at any time, but he still hopes for the future, much more so than he ever did in his younger days - in fact in 1994 he mentions wanting to make it to 2020 - funny reading that now! He is continuously looking back on his life while also dwelling on his own mortality but now he remembers the good times (although he would still write of the hard times) and he is not talking of taking his own life but is sad to think of life leaving him due to sickness and age.

I've repeatedly said that I would most likely not want to meet the man, but his words on paper have been an important part of my life for a number of decades now. I got this when it came out and just re-read it while between other books, but this makes me wanna look out to see what I'm still missing from his repertoire, although I have enough of his books to be embarrassing already.

Most likely you already know whether or not you like his work - if you do, this is another good one, but for beginners, I'd start with something earlier - maybe Post Office, Women or Factotum for the novels. I dig it, though.


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