Portions From a Wine-Stained Notebook
Uncollected Stories and Essays, 1944-1990
Edited by David Stephen Calonne
East Bay Literary Examiner
"With selected pieces ranging from 1944-1990, Bukowski cleverly paints his careful moments of brutal honesty that can be regarded as some of the most sublime narratives Bukowski's ever produced . . . If Bukowski fans find their personal library lacking this spirited collection, I’d suggest they be quick to snag a copy."
—Tony R. Rodriguez
The Bloomsbury Review
"This is a valuable addition to the expanding, some might say morbidly obese, bulk of posthumous Bukowski titles. It's not just another agglomeration of odds and soda, unfinished drafts, and scraps that weren't good enough to publish the first time around, flaws that characterized his recent output and which even his most fervent acolytes must realize. No, Portions from a Wine-Stained Notebook is a different animal. . . . This collection is also unique in that it offers a glimpse of Bukowski as nonfiction writer. . . . Most of his work, in fact, occupies a murky uncertain terrain, a lawless border town where poetry, fiction, and memoir meet for a light lunch. In some of these essays, we meet a writer of criticism and manifestos, reminding us that Bukowski was never simply a primitive naif but rather a disciplined, self-aware, thoughtful, and widely read artisan. It took a lot of hard work to make it seem otherwise."
Resources for American Literary Study
"[Bukowski] could be generous and mean-spirited, heroic and defensive, spot-on and slanted, but he became the world-class writer he had set out to be; he has joined the permanent anti-canon or shadow-canon whose denizens had shown him the way. Today the frequent allusions to him in both popular and mainstream culture tend more to respect than mockery. If scholarship has lagged, this book would indicate that this situation is changing."
"It features a wealth of previously uncollected Bukowski material, including his first published short stories, book reviews, essays on literature, U.S. politics, his writing craft, biographical accounts, entries from his famous NOTES of a DIRTY OLD MAN newspaper column, tips on how to win at the racetrack and even a review of a Rolling Stones concert. David Stephen Calonne provides a lucid and highly learned introduction to the book. . . . No Bukophile should miss out on this book."
Small Press Review
"[Portions from a Wine-Stained Notebook is] a genuine treasure trove of some of Bukowski's most important and entertaining work. David Calonne's excellent introduction provides a comprehensive overview of Bukowski's literary career, and contextualizes its importance and relevance in an intelligent and convincing manner. . . The result is a fascinating collection that clarly show how Bukowski developed his school-of-hard-knocks education into a solid, full-fledged aesthetics, and reveals a surprisingly erudite and well-read mind, proving that there was indeed a method to his apparent madness. The gritty panache and street-level humor with which Bukowski lays bare his hard-earned wisdom makes for a compelling read. . . But Portions is much more than just an entertaining read, offering many revealing insights and behind-the-scenes looks into the workings of the mind of a genuine outsider and literary innovator. As such, Portions provides an important cornerstone in the foundation of what is gradually becoming a true monument in American letters. This is essential reading for Bukowki fans (and skeptics), as well as anyone interested in the development of modern American literature, to which Bukowski has made a major contribution."
Los Angeles Times
"[The] essays [in Portions from a Wine-Stained Notebook] have that sometimes-absent discipline (or help from editors) so that even when they consist of disconnected paragraphs, they have a kind of form. And, I think, a preciseness of language that's missing in his lesser work. I was charmed. . . Editor David Stephen Callone makes the case, in his introduction, that Bukowski had an 'essentially European cultural sensibility,' that his dirtiness was transgressive a la Bataille, that his dark humor is existential. Maybe I'm responding to these intellectual rubrics—or maybe I'm swayed by his refusal to behave, just as my drunken poet friends were years ago. . . there is also a fair measure of the spark that made Bukowski a Los Angeles icon in the first place."
Charleston City Paper
"In digging up more fragments from the author's vast (and uneven) library, editor David Stephen Calonne . . . reveals many of the Dirty Old Man's less-than-savory peccadilloes, but also his singular significance to 20th-century American literature . . . Over the course of the 35-plus pieces in this collection, Bukowski makes full use of his Muse, touching on nearly all his favorite topics: drinking, women, sex ('Workout' could carry an X rating), fighting, horse-racing, the drudgery of the nine-to-five . . . Portions From a Wine-Stained Notebook is a welcome addition to the growing Bukowski library . . . "
"The pillars of his life, as Charles Bukowski saw it, were elemental: 'Poetry, paint, sand, whores,' he writes in the title polemic of his new volume of uncollected writings, Portions from a Wine-Stained Notebook, adding, for good measure; 'food, fire, death, bullshit…the turning of the fan…the bottle.' In a literary climate where it is assumed writing can be taught and networking Helps Your Career, this unholy assemblage of influences has become an almost refreshing creative counter-mantra—and yet it is also a cliché. Prolonged exposure to its twisted logic can be invigorating and boring, which is what it's like to pick through this grab-bag volume. On one page there is the sparkle of Bukowski's genius; on the next there's the self-pitying."
"Portions from a Wine-Stained Notebook is mightily essential reading for all Bukowski fans. . . . City Lights have given us earlier Bukowski, the man scrapping to find a readership, the man still drinking himself into a stupor in order to quell his fear of live readings. This is hungry Charles Bukowski."
"This volume is filled with 36 short selections of prose by the late Bukowski, who is especially known for his poetry (e.g., Bone Palace Ballet). Via short stories and nonfiction—introductions to the work of other writers, book reviews, and autobiographical accounts—the reader is taken on a roller-coaster ride through the waxing and waning lucidity and sometimes depravity of Bukowski's trademark topics (perhaps obsessions): sex, drinking, writing, and self-deprecating. Delving into social commentary, such as his observation that society is more interested in an artist’s personal life than artistic creations, Bukowski also documents the most private moments of his life, seemingly giving society what it wants. Describing in painful detail the abuse he suffered as a child, his antisocial interactions with others, strange sexual encounters, and ongoing battles with alcoholism and depression, this author remains astoundingly unique. Some will declare him an artistic genius, while others will agree with Bukowski’s own depictions of himself as a dirty old man. Recommended for larger public and academic libraries."
"More posthumous uncollected prose from the Dirty Old Man. Calonne (English/Eastern Michigan Univ.; William Saroyan: My Real Work Is Being, 1983, etc.), who previously edited a volume of Bukowski's interviews, digs up a few more fragments from the author's vast—and scattershot—oeuvre. As with many 'uncollected' selections, the results are a mixed bag, but Bukowski's gruff directness and take-no-crap attitude shine through. Discussing his style in 'Basic Training,' he writes, 'I hurled myself toward my personal god: SIMPLICITY. The tighter and smaller you got it the less chance there was of error and the lie. Genius could be the ability to say a profound thing in a simple way.' Certainly, much of Bukowski’s genius lay in his plainspoken, immediate, self-assured prose, but his constant attack on the literary establishment also earned him accolades—and scorn—from fellow writers and critics. He held special contempt for pretentious elitists, those, as Calonne eloquently notes in his illuminating introduction, 'who tried to domesticate the sacred barbaric Muse: the disruptive, primal, archaic, violent, inchoate forces of the creative unconscious.' In the more than 35 pieces that comprise the volume, Bukowski runs through all his favorite topics—drinking, fighting, women, horse-racing ('A track is some place you go so you won’t stare at the walls and whack off, or swallow ant poison')—but he’s at his most lucid and powerful when he explores the process of writing, both his own and others (Artaud, Hemingway, his hero John Fante). There’s a neat deconstruction of Ezra Pound, excerpts from his 'Notes of a Dirty Old Man' column and a peripatetic review of a Rolling Stones concert. Though a few of the selections are little more than ill-formed rants, probably originally scrawled across a bar napkin, there is plenty of the visceral, potent, even graphically sexual (tame readers beware of 'Workout') material to satisfy fans.Not for novices, but a welcome addition to Bukowski’s growing library."