This is a book for the ages, and one of Bukowski's best. He alternately looks back on his drunken youth ("Young in New Orleans," Days Like Razors, Nights Full of Rats") and evaluates his painful present ("Ill," "8 count") with an unwavering honesty. At times, the writing has an almost effortless quality that is rare even for Bukowski. Still, his insights remain tough ("Hand-outs"), startling ("Dinosauria, we"), and in places, surprisingly beautiful ("The Bluebird"). This is a richer Bukowski than is available in many of his earler works; the bravado is still there, but it is infused with a new self-awareness. As always with Bukowski, there are obvious throw-aways (what is "My Uncle Jack" about?!), but overall, the effect is that of a fine wine (Bukowskian pun FULLY intended!) aged to perfection. Drink up!