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The Pleasures of the Damned

4.39  ·  Rating details ·  4,878 ratings  ·  259 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
Hardcover, 557 pages
Published October 30th 2007 by Ecco (first published 2007)
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Kevin Hosein
Mar 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing

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.


Sometimes people w

Dec 27, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry, non-fiction
Wow, Charles Bukowski. I'm not even sure where to begin here. I mean, I've read a lot of his poetry from various places in the past, but not as a definitive volume such as this, which is over 500 pages long. I enjoyed many of these poems, but some, not so much. Reading this volume has given me a real insight into the depressing views that he has with the majority of everything in his life. We get given a tour, if you like of things that existed in his life, and how exactly he feels about those t ...more
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 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 you have started to feel lightest than you ...more
Feb 09, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
stay out of the clutches of mediocrity.

invent yourself and then reinvent yourself,
change your tone and shape so often that they can
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
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
Jun 02, 2012 rated it really liked it
I read nearly all of this on the
Hank would've approved.
Really dig the mundane topics he often
wrote about, like a poetic Harvey
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
and unmotivated
line breaks drove me up the friggin wall sometimes.
All those widows and
Pointlessly, and to excess.
Someone told me his editor was resp
Aug 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
Over 500 pages of poetry -- one man's, yet -- is a tough assignment to many readers, but Bukowski is reader-friendly and fond of the narrative poem, so in this case, not so difficult as it seems.

Of course, some readers may be put off by the persona he developed. I don't know enough about him to say whether it was a phony one or the real life he lived (or, more likely, somewhere in between), but no matter, if you're scared off by 2019-sensitive push buttons like womanizing, drinking, and gamblin
Nov 05, 2009 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.
Parrish Lantern
Oct 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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

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
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
Nov 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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
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
Jan 05, 2014 rated it did not like it
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.
Lilith Knight
I struggled to finish this.

Charles Bukowski is a curious character. His writing is raw, filthy, misanthropic. Sometimes through his poems, he presents himself as a depressed, tortured man, a hopeless romantic even, and other times he is just a bitter, old pervert. Unapologetically so in both cases, I should add.

I enjoyed the poems that felt a little more personal, more vulnerable. The ones that talked about the crippling maw of depression, his upbringing in a poor and abusive home, the melanchol
robin friedman
Aug 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
The Pleasures Of The Damned

Charles Bukowski writes that the pleasures of the damned are "limited to brief moments/of happiness:/like the eyes in the look of a dog." The poem gives its name to this 2007 anthology of Bukowski's poetry, prepared by John Martin, Bukowski's long-time friend and editor and the founder of the Black Sparrow Press, which published most of Bukowski's works.

Charles Bukowski (1920 - 1993) was an underground, cult novelist and poet whose reputation has continued to grow sinc
Nov 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
what I've written
forget it

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
and take some satisfaction in
the pleasure of
leaving it all

cry not for me.

grieve not for m
Maja Shinigami
Apr 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Damn you, Bukowski, why you so good?
Dec 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
Bukowski's poetry captures all aspects of the seedy underbelly of America. From, alcohol to prostitution Bukowski leaves no stone unturned in his poetry. He is often refereed to as the "dirty old man" of American poetry and after reading this selection of poetry I can see clearly as to why he is deemed so. I didn't care much for the poems that talked about sex or the frivolity of the American dream, but I really enjoyed the poems that touched upon subjects such as life and writing itself. Perhap ...more
Tom Waters
Oct 23, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
Dane Cobain
Aug 30, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Andy Jones
Apr 28, 2010 rated it really liked it

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
JD Estrada
Sep 24, 2015 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
(view spoiler) ...more
Kirsten Day
Oct 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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
Aug 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry, favorites
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
a nightly dip
the perfect antidote
to the ennui
of matrimonial
Nov 25, 2009 rated it it was ok
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.
Jan 01, 2014 rated it it was ok
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.
Mar 31, 2012 rated it it was amazing
If only I had read this 30 years ago.
Sarah Abigail
May 10, 2013 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.
Shaimaa Ali
Jul 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
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!!
Seth Steele
Feb 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
It's hard to give Bukowski anything less than five stars.
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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

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“in this room
the hours of love
still make shadows.”
“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
More quotes…