Jim Breslin's Reviews > Women

Women by Charles Bukowski
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Mar 15, 12

Read in March, 2012

Recently finished Bukowski's "Women." I enjoyed this, though I must warn you this is not for everyone. It's not a fairytale, but it is gritty realism - with details of living the lowlife in East Hollywood. For those that don't know, Henry Chinaski is a writer/poet who has gained an underground following and now, at a late age, he has women falling all over him. Women write him notes after being moved by his poems. Women meet him at book readings and jump into bed with him. Women call his unlisted number in the phone book and stop by with six packs. They fly to LA to be with him. True to Bukowski's epitaph, Chinaski lives the motto "Don't try," he just rolls from one bed to another. Written in first person, Chinaski is a thinly veiled Bukowski. Chinaski enjoys the company of women, though he has no problem creating "a split" when he decides to be alone. He writes:

"I was naturally a loner, content just to live with a woman, eat with her, sleep with her, walk down the street with her. I didn't want conversation, or to go anywhere except to the racetrack or the boxing matches."

And despite his cult following, Chinaski lives in the poor section of LA: "The faucets dripped, the roaches crawled, the dogs crapped everywhere, and the screens had large holes in them that let flies and all manner of strange flying insects."

Yet, Chinaski has his own moral code in dealing with women, writers and artists: "But then if you lied to a man about his talent, that was the most unforgivable lie of them all, because that was telling him to go on, to continue which was the worst way for a man without real talent to waste his life, really."

I also happen to be reading Bukowski's collection of poems, "Love is a Dog From Hell." If you have to choose between the two, I'd go with Dog. While I liked "Women," reading the two books at the same time led me to understanding Bukowski was a poet first and foremost. I don't generally read poems, but "Dog" has astounded me.
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