What Matters Most is How Well You Walk Through the Fire Paperback – 1 Dec 1999
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About the Author
Charles Bukowski is one of America’s best-known contemporary writers of poetry and prose and, many would claim, its most influential and imitated poet. He was born in 1920 in Andernach, Germany, to an American soldier father and a German mother, and brought to the United States at the age of two. He was raised in Los Angeles and lived there for over fifty years. He died in San Pedro, California, on March 9, 1994, at the age of seventy-three, shortly after completing his last novel, Pulp.
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Top Customer Reviews
Discovering Bukowski (so I'm slow) has been the best surprise of my 36th year. I am delighted. I don't know how I got this far without him. I hug the book and walk round with it like a toddler with a blanket. NOT that it's a comfortable read - it gives me indigestion and keeps me awake at night, laughing and crying when I should be asleep. This book is a series of small, deft shocks. It's about drunks and tramps and whores - the ones on the street and the ones in publishing - about sinners and saints, sex and death, accidents, cars and the casualties of war in the 'ordinary café of the world'. It's even a bit about writing and how difficult it is to do - to write extraordinary things in ordinary language that hums between the covers even when not being read. Bukowski is fooling no one. He does it well. See for yourself!
Of course, if you like poetry done by the rules, you'll hate this. But I prefer a more conversational approach, where the focus is on imagery and a true to life description of feelings and emotions. This particular collection covers the young and old poet, so you can see his style develop, and see how the events of his life show through in his content. It is a very fine body of work and I heartedly recommend it.
As always, it's fascinating to see the way in which Bukowski used simple (and often profane) language in such a powerful way - his poems don't read like Shakespeare, they read like Bukowski talked, and that's what gives them their power. Bukowski wasn't a poet or a novelist - he was a storyteller, and it barely matters whether you're reading his prose or his poetry.
Take the first poem in the collection, for example - 'my father and the bum'. Bukowski had a troubled relationship with his father, who used to bully him as a child - here, we see his father's pride, and the way in which the opinions of his friends weighed heavy on him. Bukowski says: "My father believed in work. He was proud to have a job. Sometimes he didn't have a job and then he was very ashamed. He'd be so ashamed that he'd leave the house in the morning and then come back in the evening so the neighbours wouldn't know."
Of course, it's no secret that Bukowski hated his father - you would have too, the man, by all accounts, was a bastard. Just how extreme that hatred was is shown by his depiction of his father's cruelty: "My father caught the baby mice - they were still alive and he flung them in to the flaming incinerator, one by one. The flames leaped out and I wanted to throw my father in there, but my being 10 years old made that impossible."
But let's get back to the book as a whole. It was published by Black Sparrow Press, the legendary poetry firm that was formed by John Martin, ostensibly to publish Bukowski's work.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I love Charles Bukowski's poetry, and so was really pleased that there was this fresh influx of material. Read morePublished 22 months ago by Johnny Rochester
I hate Bubowski's literature. I read one of his books - "Punchy the punch-drunk puncher" (or whatever mediocrity it might have been), and thought it was pretty dismal. Read morePublished 23 months ago by Tom Sawyer