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Betting on the Muse: Poems and Stories

4.1  ·  Rating Details ·  1,680 Ratings  ·  82 Reviews
Book description to come.
Hardcover, 402 pages
Published December 12th 1996 by Black Sparrow Press (first published 1996)
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(showing 1-30)
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Christian McKay
May 28, 2010 Christian McKay rated it it was amazing
I liken reading a good Bukowski poem to getting hit in the mouth by your best friend.

It hurts.

You feel raw about it for a while.

But then you feel pretty good.

Because it's done.

Things are out in the open.

And you survived.
Jun 06, 2009 Davis rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Fans of poetry, anyone who liked the beats, anyone wanting to get into Bukowski
Recommended to Davis by: Brandon Daley
Wow. I am writing this about 30 seconds after finishing the last poem on the last page of 'Betting On The Muse'. I had no idea that a book published after his death, composed of random unpublished poetry and short stories could be so powerful. This book is truly moving, it grasped me from the very start.

Fans of Bukowski novels will rejoice in the short story involving our favorite drunkard, Chinaski. Many of the other stories and poems come more from Bukowski's alter-ego then himself. The book a
Ed Smith
Oct 23, 2009 Ed Smith rated it liked it
a fellow worker at the library read it. So I started to read it and
got addicted to Bukowski's poems. Some are funny, some suck, and
you could not make up the race track, drinks, women and crazy men
who fight with Buk.

I think his style is his style. Not Williams or Ginsberg but definitely Charles Bukowski writing becomes infecting. After I read him I want to
write a million poems. He gets to the point, rough & ready to do
battle with the poetry gods and he does.
James Curtin
Aug 05, 2016 James Curtin rated it really liked it
i used to drink alot and smoke crack. once was hanging out with some young girl in west philly and she saw this book in my backpack. nef was her name i think. near 51st and master. i told her it wasn't a book of love poems. she wanted it anyway. i gave it to her and often think of crackheads in west philly reading this.
This Bukowski is a mix of short (very short) stories and poems--reading them I would assume a mix of older material and material from shortly from before Hank passed away. The poems he writes on his Mac are so quaint--as if he is talking to the machine as well as using it--reveling in it's "trash can" and it's newness when compared to his oldness. He writes often about the track (adding that odd poetic quality to something filthy and very unpoetic) and often writes of his "6 cats" (this charms m ...more
Jul 21, 2008 Jess rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
I love Bukowski, because sometimes, though rarely, when you're up to your eyeballs in misery, hopelessness, and the horse shit of life, he'll reveal suddenly a glimmer, a short line of poetry of something he finds beautiful in the world. However, this collection had a few that turned my stomach and turned me away from Bukowski for a week or so.
Tjibbe Wubbels
Aug 08, 2015 Tjibbe Wubbels rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: english, poetry
Fantastic as always. Some of my favourite lines:

with agony stuffed in my
and the sun
behind a film of

they and we are in the
of hell,
throwing mud at the

I knew exactly what I
was doing: I was
doing nothing.
because I knew there
was nothing
to do.
Jan 07, 2016 Jake rated it liked it
This collection is a little different for Bukowski. A little less angry, more at peace with his old age. Still better than most anyone, but not my very favorite Buk.
Jun 21, 2012 Paul rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
If you've read any Bukowski before you'll know the story of his life, lived out in all his writings, from drunken, gambling, addled, street fighter in and out of jail, in and out of bed with various women to drunken, addled, middle age where the eventual success of his writing bought him a less hand-to-mouth existence, but essentially his passions remained the same. This 400 page book of poetry and short stories was published post-humously but doesn't at all feel like is the leftovers being chur ...more
Tom Steele
Oct 10, 2011 Tom Steele rated it really liked it
This is the first collection of both poetry and short stories that I've read by Bukowski and probably one of his more consistent works. The short stories are all amusing and the poetry is pretty good as well. There is a lot of fluctuation with the quality of the poems, however, with some of them being examples of his best work and some being forgettable to outright bad.

The end of this collection features Bukowski's meditations on his inevitable death. This section alone makes the collection w
Philip Bergstresser
The illusion is that you are simply
Reading this poem
The reality is that this is
More than a
This is a beggar's knife.
This is a tulip.
This is a soldier marching
Through Madrid.
This is you on your
Death bed.
This is Li Po laughing
This is not a god-damned
This is a horse asleep.
A butterfly in
Your brain.
This is the devil's
You are not reading this
On a page.
The page is reading
Feel it?
It's like a cobra.
It's a hungry eagle
Circling the room

This is not a poem.
Poems are dull.
Nov 05, 2011 Waylon rated it liked it
I freely admit that poetry in general has never appealed to me as much as it does many other avid readers. There are some poems I've come across over the years that I truly love, but I just don't get in the "poetry mood" very often. I decided to give a Bukowski collection a shot because he has been so often recommended to me, and I am glad I did. Bukowski has a straight-to-the-point, no-bullshit style that appeals to me. There isn't the slightest hint of pretension. Some of these poems are prett ...more
Kees-Jan van Engelenburg
Jul 02, 2016 Kees-Jan van Engelenburg rated it it was amazing
The Laughing Heart

your life is your life
don’t let it be clubbed into dank submission.
be on the watch.
there are ways out.
there is a light somewhere.
it may not be much light but
it beats the darkness.
be on the watch.
the gods will offer you chances.
know them.
take them.
you can’t beat death but
you can beat death in life, sometimes.
and the more often you learn to do it,
the more light there will be.
your life is your life.
know it while you have it.
you are marvelous
the gods wait to delight
in you.”

No comme
Mark Bruce
Jul 02, 2007 Mark Bruce rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Bukowski liked to write a lot about going to the racetrack. Many of these poems carry the tediousness of a daily jaunt to the track; some are incandescent.

Of course, there's the usual mix of other subjects dear to Buk's heart: Sex, booze, poetry, and more booze. Only Buk could make the dull life of a drunkard seem romantic.
Apr 18, 2012 Evan rated it it was amazing
Shelves: more_than_once
Excellent collection focusing more on old age and death. Not as much of the hilariously vulgar stuff like in LOVE IS A DOG FROM HELL. there are some GREAT poems in here. A good book to start with if new to Bukowski, though maybe not the BEST one to start with since it packs more of a punch to read about Bukowski's ideas of death after reading HAM ON RYE and some of the poetry from the 60s.
Real Supergirl
Jun 05, 2007 Real Supergirl rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
Not his best volume, and there a a lot to choose from. I recommend Love is a Dog from Hell as part of anyone's collection of poetry. This one, however, is decent. It has a couple of Bukowski's excellent, witty, and insightful poems.
Brian Pappas
Feb 25, 2015 Brian Pappas rated it it was amazing
One of his better books of poetry with a few great short stories thrown in.
vi macdonald
More drunken ravings and rantings from everyone-except-me's favourite douchebag.
Justin Sims
Jan 04, 2008 Justin Sims rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: drunkards and poets alike
drunk genius.
Dec 23, 2016 Lizzy rated it it was ok
Read about half of it, but did not wish to continue. Clearly a good writer, but material of little interest to me.
Moss Bioletti
Jan 14, 2017 Moss Bioletti rated it it was amazing
Great book enjoyed it immensly
Nov 03, 2012 Lazyproduction rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Amavo Charles Bukowski. Mi ha piacevolmente tenuto compagnia per tutta la mia adolescenza. Da più di vent'anni non prendevo in mano un suo libro avendo ormai letto ogni scritto in circolazione e da altrettanto tempo non prestavo attenzione alle eventuali nuove pubblicazioni. Nell'ultimo anno la mia vita ha preso davvero una strana piega e sono stato costretto a rimettere in ordine tutte le mie certezze. Tra revisioni e consolidamenti ho scoperto di avere una vera avversione per le dinamiche soci ...more
Dane Cobain
May 17, 2014 Dane Cobain rated it it was amazing
Betting on the Muse sees Charles Bukowski return from the dead with a collection of poems and stories which he left behind to be published after his death – it’s good to know that the great writer planned ahead and left instructions about what was to be done with his work after his inevitable demise. In many ways, it’s a miracle that he lived as long as he did, what with the booze and the women and the horses.

Bukowski is famed for his unique voice and for his alcoholic lifestyle, and both of the
Sep 15, 2016 Kalyn rated it really liked it
First Bukowski book. I liked it.
Dec 15, 2008 Adam rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry, short-stories
"Nothing can save you except writing."

Those words, which I turned to randomly in Barnes & Noble while trying to decide which of Bukowski's works would serve as my introduction to his poetry collections, are the reason I purchased "Betting on the Muse."

By now, everything Bukowski even thought about writing has been published, and this being my first prolonged look at his poetry, I can't say whether the book is typical of Bukowski's collections. But the structure appealed to me, moving from ch
Mar 26, 2015 Ben rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
During his prolific career Bukowski made a name for himself as both a writer of prose and poetry, and the pieces collected here, numbering more than one hundred contain a number of his bare bone short stories, and seemingly improvised poetry. The subject matter ranges from things happening in sports halls, and dangerous situations in night’s enfold, as well as looking at what it means to be a writer.

The Girls We Followed Home reminisces about the girls that he used to know, whilst being surround
Eve Kay
Jul 12, 2016 Eve Kay rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, drunken
Such a huge bible of a book that's kinda hard to rate but majority of the work within the covers moved me in some way and some of them made me go whaaa?! so that amounts to 4.

Here are some of the unbelievably best:

it's difficult for them
The ending! Genius.
what they do and what they
are and what they want
and what they say and what
they write
has no interest for me
and, unfortunately for
them, no interest to most others
living, dying or about to be
born, uh


confession of a genius
Aug 06, 2013 Niina rated it really liked it
For the second time I run into a collection from one of my favourite authors that suits my tastes almost through the book!
Bukowski uses some really well done language here, both his illness and old age are showing and no doubt giving him more to write about than in his younger days, more time and writing behind him to get the texts so ripe it can be felt on the first shallow cut, touch, taste. Betting on the Muse left a funny feeling after I come to the end of it, a mixture of bitterness and ho
Jul 07, 2016 Alfred rated it really liked it
Probabil cel mai influent poet contemporan sau macar cel mai copiat se grabeste sa spuna orice book review despre Bukowski. Ma intreb cu ce date poti sa sustii afirmatia asta.


Bukowski nu se termina niciodata. Scrisul lui este ca o sesiune de jazz jamming. Mii de poezii si povestiri scurte. Iar Betting on the Muse este o compilatie care include poezii din toate perioadele. Ultimele, cele scrise in anii 90 sunt cumplite. Simti, citindu-le, cum i se scurge viata printre cuvinte. Si el aste
Brock T.I. Penner
Jun 01, 2013 Brock T.I. Penner rated it it was ok
I wanted to expose myself to different types of writing, so I picked up this book because I heard my friends rave about Bukowski. What it comes down to is if you buy into the cult of personality. I didn't so much. I found his poems started to blend into one another because they tend to be about the same topics: drinking, hard times, and his dad. I was also shocked to have him mention AIDS and remote controls, so I checked the copyright. It said 1996, but it mostly seems to be written in the '50s ...more
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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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“The Laughing Heart

your life is your life
don’t let it be clubbed into dank submission.
be on the watch.
there are ways out.
there is a light somewhere.
it may not be much light but
it beats the darkness.
be on the watch.
the gods will offer you chances.
know them.
take them.
you can’t beat death but
you can beat death in life, sometimes.
and the more often you learn to do it,
the more light there will be.
your life is your life.
know it while you have it.
you are marvelous
the gods wait to delight
in you.”
“a good book
can make an almost

( from 'the luck of the word' )”
More quotes…