Bukowski as an Underrated Literary Great

Charles Bukowski these days may not exactly be the most well-known novelist in the contemporary era, but his career and life in general is quite interesting - the stuff books are made of. Actually, his life was so colorful that he made novels out of it. What exactly about his life made Charles Bukowski that good of a writer?

Bukowski was a survivor

The peculiar thing about Charles Bukowski was that he was constantly disgruntled with his life. Quitting one factory job after another, he then finally settled for a rather stable job in the US government, particularly in the Postal Service. But then that lasted for 11 years, before he finally decided he was going to turn writing into a full-on profession.

Despite his seeming lack of commitment with work and his alcoholism, he was never homeless, he never missed payments for child support, and he was never destitute. Granted that he had an inheritance from his dad, with the booze and women lifestyle he adapted from his late 20s to his late 40s, he still pretty much led a decent life. He did not become a criminal or worse, a poor, depressed nut job as most writers end up.

His brand of surviving life to the point that he was able to enjoy the first wave of success as an author only during his 50s is a testament to how unique Charles Bukowski was in surviving his own life. Not a lot of people can pride themselves as surviving a rather unstable life only to find success so much later.

Bukowski practiced disipline

Charles Bukowski was able to pull through with producing written work despite the fact that he had to finish a 10 hour mind numbing job in the Postal Service. Of course, frequent (to the point of daily) fighting with whoever he lives with (a wife, girlfriend, or prostitute) should have distracted him further and prevented him from pursuing writing. But despite and inspite of all of that, he was able to write his books. a lot of self-proclaimed writers these days cannot even write if it is too hot, or too cold, or without their top-of-the-line laptop. Come to think of it, Bukowski himself did not know how he did it. But obviously, the man had the discipline to sit down and get pen into paper, every day.

Bukowski was equally comfortable with both poetry and the novel as his literary media

He produced very good novels, but at the same time, was also known to produce poetry. In fact, his most popular poems may even be more popular then his most famous books. The two disciplines, prose writing and poetry, can be very difficult to master by themselves, much more master both to great results. Very few people were able to achieve success in both poetry and novel writing. To think that Bukowski led pretty much a difficult life, it is amazing to see him as successful as a poet as he was a novelist.

In the end, although widely underrated these days, it cannot be denied that Bukowski was one of the better writers during his time. And maybe, that is exactly the way Bukowski wanted it to be.



  1. Frank Grigonis says:

    well said

  2. Tom Pitts says:

    My thoughts are these: Bukowski wasn’t comfortable enough with the novel (like the article says)–he didn’t write enough of ‘em! There were several years in between novels. Also, he wasn’t really a “pen to paper” guy–he loved the “typer.” And when he discovered the Mac, he said it increased his productivity and there was no going back. It’s true that during his writing career he always paid his rent, but that was a lesson he learned from being out there on the streets in his younger years. There was no going back to that either. Fortunately, he’s no longer considered underrated. Thank God for that.

    • Annie says:

      yeah this article to me misses the fucking point. I am sure he slept through plenty of days when he wasn’t working and he wasn’t homeless any time I remember , he was pretty smart, and had a grasp of his world. That he chose to be as asshole sometimes, oh well.

  3. Gray Granger says:

    Knowing things about Buk doesn’t increase or diminish my appreciation and enjoyment of his work. There are few things in my life that give me as much pleasure as connecting to a line from Bukowski. That’s really all I need to know.

  4. frankie griffin says:

    Bokowski wrote from the heart.He was honest with his words.You either liked it or didn’t. All autobiographical no holding back.It’s the only way to write.

  5. Don Munro says:

    love the man’s work…love the man!

  6. voyance says:

    What’s up friends, good paragraph and fastidious urging commented at this place, I am
    in fact enjoying by these.

  7. Vickey says:

    Quality articles or reviews is the important to interest the users to
    go to see the web site, that’s what this website is providing.

Speak Your Mind