A Life Lesson (or Two) From Charles Bukowski

Whenever people talk about great novelists, the name “Charles Bukowski” rarely comes up, and if it does, people seem to think the person who suggested the name is trying to be funny, or even weird. The thing is, Bukowski, with his grit, dirt, and misogynistic view of life (which was very prevalent in his works) is not only a brilliant man of letters. He may also give anyone a lesson or two about finding success and living life. Here are a couple of points that ultimately show how Bukowski found success, and eventually lived life in his own terms.

He was quite an honest novelist

For someone who has achieved a lot of fame as a novelist, his works sure show a lot of properties that can be described as ‘autobiographical.’ This is particularly true with the first four novels that came out from him.

Reading one of the first four Bukowski novels would divulge a lot of detail regarding his life. First among these details is his suffering as a child, where his parents were cast as antagonists. Despite the poor light his parents were put under because of his novels, he was known to not care – proof that he may really have dealt with a lot of bad things in his childhood. The characters in his novels are also notorious for having had a lot encounters with prostitutes, something which he also experienced and unabashedly shared with people who interviewed him.

Also, he was known to not really be a serious contender in the rat race, something his ‘slacker’ and job hopping characters were known for. He never had good relationships with the women in his life, and so did his characters. Lastly, he and the characters in his novels are known to hate the establishment and world order in general.

Of course, this practice of his meant well to his novels, because they rang a lot of truth. He may have espoused the cardinal rule for writers, to write about what they know. No wonder he was such a success as a writer. Of course, he made his characters’ names and settings different from his own, but we all know better. Autobiographies or novels – you decide.

He embodied the definition of a ‘late bloomer’

As a young man, Bukowski already had the talent for words, with two stories under his belt published at age 24 and 26. But then, he was also a prolific writer, which meant despite the two published stories, he may have a lot of work turned down by publishers. Did this deter Bukowski from writing? Yes, it did. In fact, he stopped writing for a decade. After that, he wrote poetry and short stories every day for fifteen years, after which he finally started getting noticed and getting enough income to live as a writer. It was not until his 49th birthday when he finally wrote a novel. This may have worked in his favor because his voice as an author was more defined and mature.

But more than this, a lesson can be learned from Charles Bukowski – never take the safe route. Pursuing passion can be done even in middle age, and the rewards should come. People these days are so keen on staying safe by going for the stable job and family, which ultimately leaves them with no happiness. The thing about people who are ‘late bloomers’ is that they tend to be more fulfilled because they stick to their beliefs, no matter if the odds are against them. And once they bloom, they also have the advantage of having the wisdom that comes with age, making their victories all the more sweeter and meaningful.

Come to think of it, the most glaring thing about Charles Bukowski was that he lived life the way he wanted, and that ultimately spells success, at least, for himself.



  1. matt murphy says:

    if buk was a musician he would rival dylan…that’s how good he is.

  2. Steve Gurney says:

    Great article! Bukowski was a late bloomer and success didn’t come easily to him. He did it for the love of his craft and the accolades eventually came….

  3. Marc Carver says:

    What about all these peole who never get found
    like he said
    all the ones in prison and nut houses.
    Was he writing for them
    i don’t think so
    he was writing for himself
    and that is still even more so in this day
    very very important

  4. Rogerio says:

    Dedication without talent is worthless. As said by Hank.

  5. Noa says:

    This writing is stupid. Just enjoy his voice. Say no more.

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