Listen to a podcast of former San Francisco Poet Laureate Jack Hirschman and poet Neeli Cherkovski remembering life with the inimitable Charles Bukowski.
Charles Bukowski (1920-1994), one of the most outrageous and controversial figures of 20th-century American literature, was so prolific that many important pieces were never collected during his lifetime. Portions is a substantial selection of these wide-ranging works, most of which have been unavailable since their original appearance in underground newspapers, literary journals, even porno mags. Among the highlights are his first published short story, "Aftermath of a Lengthy Rejection Slip"; his last short story, "The Other"; his first and last essays; and the first installment of his famous "Notes of a Dirty Old Man" column. The book contains meditations on his familiar themes (drinking, horse-racing, etc.) as well as singular discussions of such figures as Artaud, Pound, and the Rolling Stones. Other significant works include the experimental title piece; a fictionalized account of meeting his hero, John Fante ("I Meet the Master"); an unflinching review of Hemingway ("An Old Drunk Who Ran Out of Luck"); the intense, autobiographical "Dirty Old Man Confesses"; and several discussions of his aesthetics ("A Rambling Essay on Poetics and the Bleeding Life Written While Drinking a Six-Pack (Tall)," "In Defense of a Certain Type of Poetry, a Certain Type of Life, a Certain Type of Blood-Filled Creature Who Will Someday Die," and "Upon the Mathematics of the Breath and the Way", revealing an unexpectedly learned mind behind his seemingly offhand productions.
Portions From a Wine-Stained Notebook is essential reading for Bukowski fans, as well as a good introduction for new readers of this innovative, unconventional writer.
Praise for Portions From a Wine-Stained Notebook:
"Finally, after Bukowski's nearly 50 published books: novels, short stories, poetry, letters, essays, etc. David Calonne has unearthed Portions From a Wine-Stained Notebook, the previously missing link in Bukowski's oeuvre that suddenly makes everything come clear."
—John Martin, Black Sparrow Press "You know, I just think this is really hot. Among its many gifts, Portions from a Wine-Stained Notebook has one of the best lesbian sex scenes I ever read. I read Bukowski standing up one day in a bookstore (City Lights) and thought he did it too. What Henry Miller did. He wrote American. When it meant something good. Fucked up, male, but incredibly true. In a distinct rhythm."
—Eileen Myles, author of Sorry, Tree and Cool for You
"Bukowski wrote the way he lived, and Portions from a Wine-Stained Notebook is as vivid, bad-ass, screamingly funny, and gutter-angelic as the man himself. Reading these stories and essays, you can hear the beating heart of the poet in every line. Bukowski never wasted a word,
and this collection should go far towards shining a light on prose in danger of being lost in the shadow of its larger-than-life author. Those new to his work will have the good fortune of discovering a writer who could break your heart, make you howl, and slap you off your bar-stool you in a single sentence. In a world long since gone lousy with faux hard-living typers and posers, he was the original."
—Jerry Stahl, author of Permanent Midnight, Perv, Plainclothes Naked, and I, Fatty.
Watch a clip from "Charles Bukowski Tapes" (1985) by Barbet Schroeder, where Bukowski takes a tour of Hollywood, pointing out his favorite spots:
Title Portions From a Wine-Stained Notebook
Subtitle Uncollected Stories and Essays, 1944-1990