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The Pleasures of the Damned: Poems, 1951-1993

4.43  ·  Rating Details ·  3,632 Ratings  ·  164 Reviews
To his legions of fans, Charles Bukowski was—and remains—the quintessential counterculture icon. A hard-drinking wild man of literature and a stubborn outsider to the poetry world, he wrote unflinchingly about booze, work, and women, in raw, street-tough poems whose truth has struck a chord with generations of readers.

Edited by John Martin, the legendary publisher of Black
...more
ebook, 576 pages
Published October 13th 2009 by HarperCollins e-books (first published January 1st 2007)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Kevin Hosein
Mar 17, 2013 Kevin Hosein rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

I bought a book of Charles Bukowski's poems a couple days ago. I've read almost all of them. Some people think the guy's a hero, or an antihero, the quintessential drunk poet. He's really just a bitter, offensive guy. That isn't to say that he doesn't have a heart or that he's a bad person. He never put himself out to be better than he was. He was never on some high horse like most people I come across in literary circles. He was always honest. And this made his work great.


image



Sometimes people watc

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Swapnil
Its another end of another week and you are sitting alone at your favorite place overflowing with all those pretty faces..late night over the hill..you got a perfect table overlooking the city below..the city where, lights in those tall worldly buildings are going out one by one.. you order rounds of your favorite tennessee while a supremely talented, highly unknown, underrated and underpaid local band is playing 'Tangled Up In Blue' by Bob Dylan ...now you have started to feel lightest than you ...more
William Thomas
There is only one other author who can do the things to my head and heart that Bukowski does, and that is Raymond Carver. Both of these men have moved me in ways no other authors ever have. Maybe never will.

I've heard all of the arguments against the man himself and by extension of that, his work. However, I disagree with all fo the critics on this front. The man is not a misogynist. He is a philogynist. Has always been. And anyone who reads his work, hears him speak, instead of pigeonholing th
...more
Cerissa
Feb 09, 2010 Cerissa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Just amazing! My favorite poem so far:

invent yourself and then reinvent yourself,
don't swim in the same slough.
invent yourself and then reinvent yourself
and
stay out of the clutches of mediocrity.

invent yourself and then reinvent yourself,
change your tone and shape so often that they can
never
categorize you.

reinvigorate yourself and
accept what is
but only on the terms that you have invented
and reinvented.

be self-taught.

and reinvent your life because you must;
it is your life and
its history
and th
...more
Gordon
Jun 02, 2012 Gordon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read nearly all of this on the
toilet.
Hank would've approved.
Really dig the mundane topics he often
wrote about, like a poetic Harvey
Pekar.
Some very clever phrases, and many not-so.

I took issue with much of the formatting, though.
Don't get me wrong, I don't mind a little
enjambment, when it's in
service to an established rhythm. But the
awkward
and unmotivated
line breaks drove me up the friggin wall sometimes.
All those widows and
orphans.
Pointlessly, and to excess.
Someone told me his editor was resp
...more
Elle
Jan 05, 2014 Elle rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: not-owned, poetry
My previous exposure to Charles Bukowski has been an isolated poem or two shared by friends. I loved those poems and thought I would enjoy more of his work. For the most part, I was disappointed. There were one or two poems new to me that I enjoyed, when the subject was social movements and perceptions. But mostly it was just too much bitter, sexist, white male obsessing over his bitter, sexist, white male problems.
Ashleigh
Let me start by saying I totally understand and agree with the hype surrounding Charles Bukowski even if most of said hype is coming from a bunch of adolescents on Tumblr who most likely don't have much life experience or at least don't have enough life experience to sympathize with Mister Bukowski's way of life (not that I am dictating who should or shouldn't read this as I think everyone should!)
Bukowski was like the king of the down and outs, I admire this man so much. His poetry is easy to u
...more
Ju$tin
Nov 10, 2015 Ju$tin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry, bukowski

uhhhh yeah this is one of the best books of poetry I've read.

if you've read some bukowski and you didn't like it i'd suggest picking this up(poetry), or ham on rye(novel), or
hot water music(short stories) or the most beautiful woman in town & other stories(short stories) or south of no north(short stories) and i think you'll change your mind
Parrish Lantern
the bluebird

there’s a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I'm too tough for him,
I say, stay in there, I'm not going
to let anybody see
you.


there's a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I pour whiskey on him and inhale
cigarette smoke
and the whores and the bartenders
and the grocery clerks
never know that
he's
in there.


there's a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I'm too tough for him
I say,
stay down, do you want to mess
me up?
you want to screw up the
works
...more
Christan
Nov 05, 2009 Christan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Oh Bukowski... When I'm feeling down, crushed by this heartless world, I turn to you and your utter lack of sentimentality cheers me. You tell it like it is Mr. Bukowski. You leave blood, and tears, and shit streaks behind you... You were a lonely man with a heart of glass and every word you wrote, you wrote for yourself. The ease of your words is so deceptive. I wish I had the courage to be as honest in my own humble scribbles.

Highly recommended.
Dane Cobain
Aug 30, 2013 Dane Cobain rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book promises 'the best of the best of Bukowski', and it certainly doesn't disappoint - then again, at over 500 pages, there's a lot in there to choose from. However, there's some new stuff too - some of the material was first published here, and its covers contain a sizable amount of the great poet's work between his early, formative years and his final days, dying of leukemia after a lifetime of heavy drinking.

And, for once, the editor is almost as qualified as Bukowski himself to bring t
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Eslam
Nov 05, 2015 Eslam rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
read
what I've written
then
forget it
all


The poems of Bukowski in this book may be divided into two stages:

From page 1 - 510 and from 511 - the end.

For the last stage, Charles has reflected on death, his suffering, his illness, on God in an inclusive/ concentrated way .... Bukowski has tried to say it all. I believe he did it.

having been
born into this
strange life
we must accept
the wasted gamble of our
days
and take some satisfaction in
the pleasure of
leaving it all
behind.

cry not for me.

grieve not for m
...more
Tom Waters
Oct 23, 2010 Tom Waters rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As far as Charles Bukowski's work is concerned, you either enjoy his work or you don’t. As far as I'm concerned, any artist who can pen 54 books is worth looking into. Almost two years ago, a friend of mine read a poem of his aloud, with a roaring campfire in the background, during a summertime couple’s cocktail get-together--and I was hooked for life.
I'd rather read books, listen to music or watch films from an artist who's consistently above-par than fixate on the tiny visionaries who knock o
...more
Andy Jones
Apr 28, 2010 Andy Jones rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Charles Bukowski, where to begin. I've read many of Bukowski's poems, It wasn't until I read an entire volume by him that I truly got the bitter dissatisfaction he has with most everything, except cigarettes which are a prominent or passive fixation in his poetry. Throughout The Pleasures of the Damned I followed Bukowski's everday life and observations of the world that he lives in. Bukowski lives his life; he drinks, he smokes, he has sex with ugly whores, he pays his rent, and he feels sorry
...more
Eduard
(view spoiler) ...more
Ben
Aug 29, 2012 Ben rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
he's seen better days
I thought
that old boy, sitting
on the bookshop shelf.
a spent face
all wrinkled up
like a corduroy cap.

a random flick reveals
"The young lady
from Canoga Park"
- the first few lines
coax me in.
further flicks throw up
"big time loser" and,
"my friend William"
- this some good shit.

now he sits
bedside,
a nightly dip
provides
the perfect antidote
to the ennui
of matrimonial
bliss.
Lisa
I read this book because Bukowski is often quoted. I wanted to revel in his brilliance.
I was sadly disappointed, his works are filled with anger, revulsion, spite and profanity; scattered with intermittent gems that are struggling to maintain their luster amidst all the despair.
Shaimaa Ali
Jul 24, 2016 Shaimaa Ali rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
He was the world's greatest loser
But he never gave up
-- -- -- -- -- -- -- --

A marvelous read, this was not poetry, it was a dive-in Bukowski's world..
What a life he had!!
Sarah Abigail
May 10, 2013 Sarah Abigail rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: current-favs, poetry
Charles my dear dear friend, you are a god. And thats it. There's no need to say anything else. I love you.
Wanda
Mar 31, 2012 Wanda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If only I had read this 30 years ago.
Seth Steele
Feb 23, 2017 Seth Steele rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's hard to give Bukowski anything less than five stars.
JD Estrada
Sep 24, 2015 JD Estrada rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I had never read Bukowski before this collection, but it always felt as if I was missing out on something. I heard the name, I read quotes, but I didn’t have a book. So last year I bought The Pleasures of the Damned and have been reading the collection bit by bit. Sometimes one poem, other times several pages. Sometimes it was the language used that surprised me, but more often than not, it was the raw emotion captured on a piece of paper that touched a deep fiber within my soul. I can’t say I l ...more
Monse
May 08, 2016 Monse rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One does not simply review Bukowski. At one point I'll discuss my favorite poems. But man this guy...I think my appeal to him is, yeah he's gross, and terrible. But core of what he says is true and he does it beautifully. Hopefully my memory can stop being so lame and I can just start quoting Bukowski left and right. I just couldn't stop reading this collection. I did like his poems when he was broke as fuck better than when he started making money but preferred these poems over his post-human p ...more
Vanessa
Apr 24, 2013 Vanessa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
This collection of poems was my first experience of Bukowski's work, and after finishing the final poem today, I will definitely be coming back for more.

I think there's a common misconception that poetry has to be flowery and flowing and romantic, with lots of long words and pretty little turns of phrase. Bukowski throws ideas like these about poetry in the dirt, and stomps all over them with heavy boots, flicking some cigarette ash on them for good measure. He is old, grumpy, unhappy, elated, d
...more
Kirsten Day
Oct 26, 2015 Kirsten Day rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Pleasures of the Damned is a mix of poems that touch on every emotion I have. I can relate to the author in ways most people wouldn't know. I grew up in a family of hard drinkers who speak of deep sadness and truth of the harsh world. Reading Pleasures of the Damned is an insight of what the truly sad people are thinking in their heads. Charles Bukowski writes an amazing book explaining exactly what he feels on thursday nights, when the only warmth he has to hold is a stale bottle of jack and a ...more
Joe
Apr 04, 2009 Joe rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
The New York Times book Review stated that this is the definitive edition of Bukowski's poetry and you would be hard pressed to prove them wrong. This collection includes poetry from Bukowski's flophouse days were he drifted across the country and slept on benches, in roominghouses, and with almost any woman that would have him. It details the golden years of his life where he finally got the fame, recognition, and money that he so deserved. It also, sadly, covers the last years and days of his ...more
Kurt
Nov 15, 2016 Kurt rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I wavered a bit on that fifth star. But then, how could I not. No, Charles Bukowski, poet, drunk, reluctant novelist, womanizer and all-round bard of laziness, liquor and lowlife, possessed neither the controlled poetic skills of, say, Philip Larkin, the sensually gifted tongue of Neruda or Rumi, nor the graceful, linguistic detachment of Thom Gunn - but he was honest. And in my books that still counts.
This aptly titled "The Pleasures of the Damned" is the definitive volume of Buk's poetry. Wit
...more
Andreea Lupei
Dec 11, 2016 Andreea Lupei rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
it's not
for
everybody

either to

write
it

or even to

read it.
Jennifer Blowdryer
I got a coupla never-before-collected Bukowski books from the Berkeley Public Library, a place that is reeking with degeneracy. The Continual Condition, not so good. The Pleasures of the Damned, a fat book of poems from 1951 - 93, is profound and surprising. He wasn't That Guy all the time, he made a life time study of the ignored, thought about things, and was pretty brave to write every day - how do people do that? Jeesh. Huge recommendation
Craven
Nov 25, 2009 Craven rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book is really poorly put together. It's not chronological at all and mixes everything up. This is a crappy thing to do with Bukowski, because Bukowski's work and personality changed distinctly several times over his lifetime. To put together this way is frustrating to the the seasoned reader and misrepresents him to the beginning reader. The missing stars go to the editor, not Hank.
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Henry Charles Bukowski (born as Heinrich Karl Bukowski) was a German-born American poet, novelist and short story writer. His writing was influenced by the social, cultural and economic ambience of his home city of Los Angeles.It is marked by an emphasis on the ordinary lives of poor Americans, the act of writing, alcohol, relationships with women and the drudgery of work. Bukowski wrote thousands ...more
More about Charles Bukowski...

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“in this room
the hours of love
still make shadows.”
171 likes
“invent yourself and then reinvent yourself,
don't swim in the same slough.
invent yourself and then reinvent yourself and
stay out of the clutches of mediocrity.

invent yourself and then reinvent yourself,
change your tone and shape so often that they can never categorize you.

reinvigorate yourself and
accept what is
but only on the terms that you have invented
and reinvented.

be self-taught.

and reinvent your life because you must;
it is your life and
its history
and the present
belong only to
you.”
55 likes
More quotes…