Portions from a Wine-Stained Notebook: Uncollected Stories and Essays, 1944-1990


Charles Bukowski (1920–1994), one of the most outrageous and controversial figures of twentieth-century American literature, was so prolific that many important pieces were never collected during his lifetime. Portions from a Wine-Stained Notebook is a substantial selection of these wide-ranging works, most of which have been unavailable since their original appearance in underground newspapers, literary journals, and even porn magazines. Among the highlights are Bukowski’s first published short story, “Aftermath...

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Charles Bukowski (1920–1994), one of the most outrageous and controversial figures of twentieth-century American literature, was so prolific that many important pieces were never collected during his lifetime. Portions from a Wine-Stained Notebook is a substantial selection of these wide-ranging works, most of which have been unavailable since their original appearance in underground newspapers, literary journals, and even porn magazines. Among the highlights are Bukowski’s 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”). What is ultimately revealed is an unexpectedly learned mind behind his seemingly off hand 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.

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Editorial Reviews

Gerald Locklin
[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.
Resources for American Literary Study
From the Publisher

"Bukowski's strength is in the sheer bulk of his contents, the virulent anecdotal sprawl, the melodic spleen without the fetor of the parlor or the classroom, as if he were writing while straddling a cement wall or sitting on a bar stool, the seat of which is made of thorns."-Jim Harrison, NY Times, 2007

"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."--Bold Monkey

Beat Scene 56
Portions from a Wine-Stained Notebook is mightily essential reading for all Bukowski fans, old and new.
Los Angeles Times' "Jacket Copy" Blog
The newly released 'Portions from a Wine-Stained Notebook' pulls together as-yet uncollected essays and stories by Charles Bukowski, written from 1944-1990. Some were published in places like 'Rolling Stone'; others showed up in fleeting literary journals and porn mags. The selections include the first of his 'Notes From a Dirty Old Man,' a series that appeared in multiple magazines, and the first short story he published, which pointed out his lack of prior publication: 'Aftermath of a Lengthy Rejection Slip.'
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.
—Andrew Madigan
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.
—Eric Liebetrau
Library Journal

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.
—David L. Reynolds

Kirkus Reviews
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 ofthe 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.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780872864924
  • Publisher: City Lights Books
  • Publication date: 9/1/2008
  • Pages: 300
  • Sales rank: 670,489
  • Product dimensions: 8.94 (w) x 10.88 (h) x 0.79 (d)

Meet the Author

Charles Bukowski

Charles Bukowski was born in Andernach, Germany in 1920 and brought to Los Angeles at age three. Using the city as a backdrop for his work, Bukowski wrote prolifically, publishing over fifty volumes of poetry and prose. He died in San Pedro, California on March 9, 1994. His books are widely translated and posthumous volumes continue to appear. David Calonne is the editor of a previous book of uncollected Bukowski, Portions from a Wine-Stained Notebook, as well as a volume of interviews, Charles Bukowski: Sunshine Here I Am. He presently teaches at East Michigan University.


During the course of his long, prolific literary career, Charles Bukowski was known as a poet, novelist, short story writer, and journalist. But it is as a cult figure, an "honorary beat" who chronicled his notorious lifestyle in raw, unflinching poetry and prose, that he is best remembered. Born in the aftermath of World War I to a German mother and an American serviceman of German descent, he was brought to the U.S. at the age of three and raised in Los Angeles. By all accounts, his childhood was lonely and unhappy: His father beat him regularly, and he suffered from debilitating shyness and a severely disfiguring case of acne. By his own admission, he underwent a brief flirtation with the far right, associating as a teenager with Nazis and Nazi sympathizers. After high school, he attended Los Angeles City College for two years, studying art, literature, and journalism before dropping out.

Although two of his stories were published in small literary magazines while he was still in his early 20s, Bukowski became discouraged by his lack of immediate success and gave up writing for ten years. During this time he drifted around the country, working odd jobs; fraternizing with bums, hustlers, and whores; and drinking so excessively that he nearly died of a bleeding ulcer.

In the late 1950s, Bukowski returned to writing, churning out copious amounts of poetry and prose while supporting himself with mind-numbing clerical work in the post office. Encouraged and mentored by Black Sparrow Press publisher John Martin, he finally quit his job in 1969 to concentrate on writing full time. In 1985, he married his longtime girlfriend Linda Lee Beighle. Together they moved to San Pedro, California, where Bukowski began to live a saner, more stable existence. He continued writing until his death from leukemia in 1994, shortly after completing his last novel, Pulp.

Bukowski mined his notorious lifestyle for an oeuvre that was largely autobiographical. In literally thousands of poems, he celebrated the skid row drunks and derelicts of his misspent youth; and, between 1971 and 1989, he penned five novels (Post Office, Factotum, Women, Ham on Rye, and Hollywood) featuring Henry Chinaski, an alcoholic, womanizing, misanthrope he identified as his literary alter ego. (He also wrote the autobiographical screenplay for the 1987 film Barfly, starring Mickey Rourke and Faye Dunaway.) Yet, for all the shock value of his graphic language and violent, unlovely images, Bukowski's writing retains a startling lyricism. Today, years after his death, he remains one of the 20th century's most influential and widely imitated writers.

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

Table of Contents

Aftermath of a Lengthy Rejection Slip 1

20 Tanks from Kasseldown 11

Hard Without Music 15

Trace: Editors Write 19

Portions From a Wine-Stained Notebook 20

A Rambling Essay on Poetics and the Bleeding Life Written While Drinking a Six-Pack (Tall) 33

In Defense of a Certain Type of Poetry, A Certain Type of Life, A Certain Type of Blood-Filled Creature Who Will Someday Die 41

Artaud Anthology 49

An Old Drunk Who Ran Out of Luck 54

Notes of a Dirty Old Man 57

Untitled Essay in A Tribute to Jim Lowell 61

Notes of a Dirty Old Man 63

The Night Nobody Believed I was Allen Ginsberg 70

Should We Burn Uncle Sam's Ass? 78

The Silver Christ of Santa Fe 82

Dirty Old Man Confesses 87

Reading and Breeding for Kenneth 105

The L.A. Scene 111

Notes on the Life of an Aged Poet 121

Upon the Mathematics of the Breath and the Way 128

Notes of a Dirty Old Man 135

Notes of a Dirty Old Man 141

Notes of a Dirty Old Man 148

Unpublished Foreword to William Wantling's 7 on Style 151

Jaggernaut 156

Picking the Horses 162

Workout 169

The Way it Happened 181

Just Passing Time 188

Distractions in the Literary Life 197

I Meet the Master 205

Charles Bukowski's Los Angeles for Li Po 230

Looking Back at a Big One 231

Another Portfolio 234

The Other 236

Basic Training 249

Sources 253

About the Author and Editor 255

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