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Charles Bukowski

4.18  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,505 Ratings  ·  47 Reviews
Charles Bukowski -- onetime bum, longtime alcoholic, and the author of now-classic novels such as POST OFFICE, FACTOTUM, and WOMEN -- rose from obscurity to become world famous. His semiautobiographical books about low-life America made him a cult figure and culminated in the making of "Barfly, " a major Hollywood film based on Bukowski's life. In this new biography, Howar ...more
Published January 1st 2007 by Canongate Books (first published 1998)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Bryan Clark
Jul 27, 2011 Bryan Clark rated it it was amazing
If you are a fan examining Bukowski's life is a little difficult. He was not what you could call a ‘good guy’; there was a lot about him that is less than admirable. It’s easy for his critics to take a reductive view of him and his works, the temptation for his admirers is to perhaps give him a bit of a whitewash. However, what this book does is present an unsentimental account of Bukowski’s life – certainly it does not shy away from the many less flattering episodes – yet in a way which shows t ...more
Brent Legault
This biography seemed to me to be more unnecessary than most, considering how much of his own life Bukowski used in his fiction, but I found it not entirely unentertaining.
Michael Naughton
Writers and Poets, in particular, evince quite a bit about themselves through their words. Great Biographers like Howard Sounes distinguish the writer's personal life behind their words; they help us round out their complex life puzzle and personal history. Howard Sounes achieves this through credible sources and interviews with the women who knew Bukowski and his personal correspondence with: John Martin, Ferlinghetti, etc. IRS and FBI records.

Sounes clarifies and confirms the Bukowski we thoug
Push Nevahda
Sep 15, 2010 Push Nevahda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book started out rather dull, much of the earlier chapters seemed like much had been sifted from Ham On Rye. But the book was good, I would've liked to have seen more on his parents. At one point near the end the Bukowski returns to Germany for a book event and visits with his fathers brother. This was an intresting moment for Bukowski whose childhood was marred in verbal and physicla abuse at the hand of his father. The book didnt go as indepth as I would expect of a biography (like Maher's ...more
Mar 28, 2016 Oscarverywild rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Kitabın sonlarına doğru kendi kendime şunu söyledim: "Bukowski hakkında ne çok şey biliyorum." Bu bilginin büyük çoğunluğu durmadan kendini anlatan Bukowski'nin kitaplarında yazdıkları, bir kısmı hakkında izlediğim belgeseller, filmler; bir kısmı da Barbet Schroeder'in çektiği Charles Bukowski Tape'leri. Ilımlı bir fanlık durumu oluşmuş galiba.
Niye böyle bir düşünce aklıma geldi diye soracak olursanız, artık okuduklarım Bukowski ile ilgili fikrime katkıda bulunmuyor. İsimler, olaylar, yerler; h
Holly Goes
Sep 27, 2014 Holly Goes rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
- Fascinated by the monster and child in this man.
- Poetry and life mostly inspired by his painful experiences and the bottom of American society
- Painfully shy, awkward, and self-destructive man (and drunkard); these I think made him more capable of producing raw and sex-grounded poetry
- One true love, Linda, writes to him "Your women are all weak and floppy and untrue. My heart is a wild sensuous bird and it's always wanting to fly. Fly Bukowski, you're afraid to fly."
- Favorite part: from M
Carissa Goble
Aug 18, 2014 Carissa Goble rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sounes does a fantastic job of bringing to life Bukowski honestly. He's not afraid of showing you his many negative traits which include everything from women beating to being a nasty drunk to voicing outrageous opinions for the attention (a false Nazi sympathizer is probably the most tasteless). Bukowski's writing often tells more about himself than it does the subject matter and the book really sheds light on the truth behind the myths Bukowski tried to create about himself.

But despite it all
Entertaining, sometimes funny, gritty, raunchy. My first swim through the "river Bukowski" and it was pretty good for me.

The part about the buffalo chasing him so he had to run and dive over a fence, was hysterical!!
Brian Pappas
Jul 22, 2015 Brian Pappas rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Thought there wasn't much more I could learn about the old man, but this bio proved me wrong. Reads more like a novel than some ordinary biography. Fitting. How could anything Bukowski be ordinary?
Connie  Kuntz
Feb 10, 2009 Connie Kuntz rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: bukowski wannabees
I enjoyed this biography, but I guess I would rather experience Bukowski from Bukowski's work.
David Ward
May 19, 2014 David Ward rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
Charles Bukowski: Locked in the Arms of a Crazy Life by Howard Sounes (Grove Press 1998)(Biography). This is the first biography of Bukowski that I've tried. He was an incorrigible alcoholic and misogynist, and he died of leukemia! He never achieved financial success until late in life. The first chapter concerns a party for Bukowski as visiting writer; it's the highlight of the book. the man was a hellion (not that there's anything wrong with that...). My rating: 7/10, finished 5/19/14.
Tim Boroughs
Jun 26, 2011 Tim Boroughs rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Charles Bukowski was a writer who lived in down and out apartments and rooming houses in Los Angeles for for most of his life and endured a succession of menial and demoralising jobs whilst struggling to make a living as a writer. These experiences formed the basis for his literary work which was in large part autobiographical and whilst primarily a poet, Bukowski’s output included short stories, novels and a screenplay. The result is a brilliant record of his shambolic life of relationships gon
Solid and informative, Howard Sounes' biography of Bukowski gets the job done. You'll learn about the man, his experiences, his women, and his writing, but when the title utilizes the word "crazy," there's an expectation the book will live up to its name. This one did not.

With such a dynamic man as the focus, this biography should've been intriguing. The fault is not with the subject but with his biographer: Bukowski's life and controversial writing give plenty of material, but the author wastes
May 26, 2014 Lauren rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-i-own
Howard Sounes might have only used secondary resources to tell Bukowski's story, but it sure doesn't seem like it. This biography is a structured, well written account of the writer's professional and personal life. You really got a sense of who Bukowski was and why he wrote/spoke the way he did. I give Sounes a lot of credit for letting the resources speak for themselves. That was probably very difficult given the subject of this book.

As for my rating, it is the way it is because there were som
Feb 04, 2010 Jim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
He drank but “had little time for drugs”; he could be misogynistic but as soon as he got a woman pregnant the first thing he did was propose; to put things in perspective he was really more of a misanthrope than a misogynist; “when he was sober, Bukowski was quiet and polite, even deferential [but:] when he got drunk – especially in sophisticated company, which made him uneasy – he became Bukowski the bad: mischievous, argumentative, even violent;” he gambled – he once totted up that he’d fritte ...more
Jun 08, 2016 MikeBy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this almost straight after Ham on Rye and found the first part pretty much a summary and selection of stories from Bukowski's book. However once it got past his childhood the book became more interesting. If I had read Bukowki's own stories I might have found the same problem, but as I haven't (yet) I didn't.
A very extensive notes section seems to take up an excessively large part of the book, but I just skimmed over that, the point for me was to learn about the author's life, not check t
Aug 12, 2015 Stacye rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm glad I knew nothing about Charles Bukowski going in. Because of that, I learned about his life, his talent, and his demons all at once. I went from feeling pity for him as a boy to finding him boorish in middle age and, by the end of the book, wistful that it ended.
Sep 02, 2013 Isscandar rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: da_biblioteca
Quando faceva freddo indossava una giacca sportiva stazzonata.
In genere girava con un sacchetto di carta marrone con dentro due confezioni da sei birre.

Il fatto che tutti fumassero spinelli o prendessero LSD non lo turbava in alcun modo.
``A lui suonava tutto un po' falso'' dice Richmond. ``Timothy Leary e gli hippy. E per certi versi aveva anche ragione''.
In una lettera a Richmond, Bukowski scrisse: ``LSD, sì, la scoperta del secolo: tutti lo prendono, adesso. Se prendi l'LSD sei un poeta, un in
Jim Hale
Jan 21, 2014 Jim Hale rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography-memoir
Superb. While an admirer of Bukowski, Sounes' research comes up with many contradictions in the man that will no doubt disappoint Buk's most adoring fans. But what person's life doesn't have contradictions? Bukowski's life is reported on fairly here and my guess is that he would it have no other way. This is an excellent book, and I think, a real inspiration for aspiring writers.
Dec 19, 2015 Killthepopular rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
An illuminating and fairly well-written biography. It's nice to read around the factual side of an author like Bukowski where you feel like you already know his life story from his work.
Nov 18, 2011 Leah rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Although I enjoy stories of Bukowski's unapologetic lasciviousness and arrogance, I found the writing in this book dull and scattered. It felt like a laundry list of publications and achievements with a few anecdotes tossed in haphazardly. The best bits were snapshots of Bukowski's writing, but that was too infrequent to get excited about. Despite Howard Sounes, I still want to read more Bukowski - his straightforward language makes me smile in a world of frivolity. "I always liked your hair com ...more
Apr 18, 2014 Mark rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting insight.
Oct 05, 2015 Stephan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Feb 14, 2012 Miles rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: borrowed
Really enjoyed reading this biography. I got quite fond of the old goat Bukowski but he could have kept Freud tied up for days. He didn't do much more than drink and write so this might have been a bit of a boring read but the humour kept it lively and every now and then Bukowski would do something truly horrendous and the pages would fly by. Whatever one may think of his behaviour on occasions, I guess you have to admire someone who can just keep writing no matter what.
Daria Tyuneva
May 14, 2016 Daria Tyuneva rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is a wonderful gift for anyone interested in Bukowski's writing (and his literary preferences in my case) or Bukowski as a personality. I found it very informative and amusing at times, with impressive amount of research behind it. I never knew he was such good friends with Sean Penn and had Madonna dining in his house, for example, and found it very funny. I also recommend a companion book 'Bukowski in pictures' by Howard Sounes.
Nov 19, 2012 Tony rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012
An interesting and very well researched add to the Bukowski biographies although not completely honest and objective one; neutral point of view is more important the stronger the subject matter is. If you like this one I can recommend Hank: The Life of Charles Bukowski by Neeli Cherkovski.
Aug 17, 2014 Karin rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
this biography is nicely written, but bukowski himself was an asshole.
Jan 21, 2013 Evans rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I went into this book knowing almost nothing about Bukowski beyond a song by Modest Mouse. While this man is not someone who really should be idolized (abusive towards women, an alcoholic), he lived a pretty interesting life and what pieces the authored featured in the text really whetted my appetite for the work of Bukowski. A really easy read told as a narrative instead of a history/biography.
Aug 02, 2015 Marmites rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Made me realise Bukowski was sort of a dick, and probably severely misrepresenting himself to his own favor. It's not a bad thing though, he's just creating an 'ideal' for guidance.

It's cool having so much content to analyse him: Novels, poetry, short stories, autobiographies, audio of poetry readings, interviews. This man has anchored a fuckload of my contemplations
Roger Mohr
Well enough written, but not interesting. Bukowski comes across as a drunken idiot, obnoxious and generally a waste of oxygen, which seems an unfortunately accurate impression. No sign of personal depth or development, just a lush typical in every way except his writing compulsion. Oh well, now I know.
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I have written biographies of a wide range of extraordinary personalities - including the murderers Fred and Rosemary West (Fred & Rose), the American poet Charles Bukowski (Locked in the Arms of a Crazy Life) and the singer-songwriters Bob Dylan (Down the Highway) and Lou Reed (Notes from the Velvet Underground). Each book is based on extensive original research.

For more information, visit ww
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“I do believe that it takes a strong dose of alienation to make a good artist or writer in the modern world. You can’t be too well-adjusted and still have anything interesting to say.” 3 likes
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