Hot Water Music

Hot Water Music

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by Charles Bukowski

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Hot Water Music is a collection of short stories by Charles Bukowski, published in 1983. The collection deals largely with: drinking, women, gambling, and writing. It is an important collection that establishes Bukowski's minimalist style and his thematic oeuvre.


Hot Water Music is a collection of short stories by Charles Bukowski, published in 1983. The collection deals largely with: drinking, women, gambling, and writing. It is an important collection that establishes Bukowski's minimalist style and his thematic oeuvre.

Editorial Reviews

Gale Research
"Lives of quiet desperation explode in apparently random and unmotivated acts of bizarre violence," describes Michael F. Harper in the Los Angeles Times Book Review, adding: "There is certainly a raw power in these stories, but Bukowski's hard-boiled fatalism seems to me the flip side of the humanism he denies and therefore just as false as the sentimentality he ridicules." Erling Friis-Baastad, writing in the Toronto Globe and Mail, concludes, "In his best work, Bukowski comes close to making us comprehend, if not the sense of it all, then at least its intensity. He cannot forget, and he will not let us forget, that every morning at 3 a.m. broken people lie `in their beds, trying in vain to sleep, and deserving that rest, if they could find it.'"

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
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6.36(w) x 9.33(h) x 0.95(d)

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Hot Water Music

Chapter One

Less Delicate Than The Locust

"Balls," he said, "I'm tired of painting. Let's go out. I'm tired of the stink of oils, I'm tired of being great. I'm tired of waiting to die. Let's go out."

"Go out where?" she asked.

"Anywhere. Eat, drink, see."

"Jorg," she said, "what will I do when you die?"

"You will eat, sleep, fuck, piss, shit, clothe yourself, walk around and bitch."

"I need security."

"We all do."

"I mean, we're not married. I won't even be able to collect your insurance."

"That's all right, don't worry about it. Besides, you don't believe in marriage, Arlene."

Arlene was sitting in the pink chair reading the afternoon newspaper. "You say five thousand women want to sleep with you. Where does that leave me?"

"Five thousand and one."

"You think I can't get another man?"

"No, there's no problem for you. You can get another man in three minutes."

"You think I need a great painter?"

"No, you don't. A good plumber would do."

"Yes, as long as he loved me."

"Of course. Put on your coat. Let's go out."

They came down the stairway from the top loft. All around were cheap, roach-filled rooms, but nobody seemed to be starving: they always seemed to be cooking things in large pots and sitting around, smoking, cleaning their fingernails, drinking cans of beer or sharing a tall blue bottle of white wine, screaming at each other or laughing, or farting, belching, scratching or asleep in front of the tv. Not many people in the world had very much money but the less money they had the better they seemed tolive. Sleep, clean sheets, food, drink and hemorrhoid ointment were their only needs. And they always left their doors a bit open.

"Tools," said Jorg as they walked down the stairway, "they twaddle away their lives and clutter up mine."

"Oh, Jorg," Arlene sighed. "You just don't like people, do you?"

Jorg arched an eyebrow at her, didn't answer. Arlene's response to his feelings for the masses was always the same — as if not loving the people revealed an unforgivable shortcoming of soul. But she was an excellent fuck and pleasant to have around — most of the time.

They reached the boulevard and walked along, Jorg with his red and white beard and broken yellow teeth and bad breath, purple ears, frightened eyes, stinking torn overcoat and white ivory cane. When he felt worst he felt best. "Shit," he said, "everything shits until it dies."

Arlene bobbled her ass, making no secret of it, and Jorg pounded the pavement with his cane, and even the sun looked down and said, Ho ho. Finally they reached the old dingy building where Serge lived. Jorg and Serge had both been painting for many years but it was not until recently that their work sold for more than pig farts. They had starved together, now they were getting famous separately. Jorg and Arlene entered the hotel and began climbing the stairway. The smell of iodine and frying chicken was in the halls. In one room somebody was getting fucked and making no secret of it. They climbed to the top loft and Arlene knocked. The door popped open and there was Serge. "Peek-a-boo!" he said. Then he blushed. "Oh, sorry ... come in."

"What the hell's the matter with you?" asked Jorg.

"Sit down. I thought it was Lila ... "

"You play peek-a-boo with Lila?"

"It's nothing."

"Serge, you've got to get rid of that girl, she's destroying your mind." "She sharpens my pencils."

"Serge, she's too young for you."

"She's 30."

"And you're 60. That's 30 years."

"Thirty years is too much?"

"Of course."

"How about 20?" asked Serge, looking at Arlene.

"Twenty years is acceptable. Thirty years is obscene."

"Why don't you both get women your own age?" asked Arlene. They both looked at her. "She likes to make little jokes," said Jorg. "Yes," said Serge, "she is funny. Come on, look, I'll show you what I'm doing ... "

They followed him into the bedroom. He took off his shoes and lay flat on the bed. "See? Like this? All the comforts." Serge had his paint brushes on long handles and he painted on a canvas fastened to the ceiling. "It's my back. Can't paint ten minutes without stopping. This way I go on for hours."

"Who mixes your colors?"

"Lila. I tell her, 'Stick it in the blue. Now a bit of green.' She's quite good. Eventually I might even let her work the brushes, too, and I just lay around and read magazines."

Then they heard Lila coming up the stairway. She opened the door, came across the front room and entered the bedroom. "Hey," she said, "I see the old fuck's painting."

"Yeah," said Jorg, "he claims you hurt his back."

"I said no such thing."

"Let's go out and eat," said Arlene. Serge moaned and got up.

"Honest to Christ," said Lila. "He just lays around like a sick frog most of the time."

"I need a drink," said Serge. "I'll snap back."

They went down to the street together and moved toward The Sheep's Tick. Two young men in their mid-20's ran up. They had on turtleneck sweaters. "Hey, you guys are the painters, Jorg Swenson and Serge Maro!"

"Get the hell out of the way!" said Serge.

Jorg swung his ivory cane. He got the shorter of the young men right on the knee. "Shit," the young man said, "youve broken my leg!"

"I hope so," said Jorg. "Maybe you'll learn some damned civility!" They moved on toward The Sheep's Tick. As they entered a buzzing arose from the diners. The headwaiter immediately rushed up, bowing and waving menus and speaking endearments in Italian, French and Russian ...

Hot Water Music. Copyright © by Charles Bukowski. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Meet the Author

Charles Bukowski is one of America’s best-known contemporary writers of poetry and prose and, many would claim, its most influential and imitated poet. He was born in 1920 in Andernach, Germany, to an American soldier father and a German mother, and brought to the United States at the age of two. He was raised in Los Angeles and lived there for over fifty years. He died in San Pedro, California, on March 9, 1994, at the age of seventy-three, shortly after completing his last novel, Pulp.

Brief Biography

Date of Birth:
August 16, 1920
Date of Death:
March 9, 1994
Place of Birth:
Andernach, Germany
Place of Death:
San Pedro, California
Los Angeles City College, 2 years

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Hot Water Music 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
Michael Walters More than 1 year ago
Classic Bukowski, a great collection of short stories. Easy reading, creative writing. Enjoyable, Bukowski themed stories.
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