The Roominghouse Madrigals [NOOK Book]


The Roominghouse Madrigals is a selection of poetry from Charles Bukowski's early work. It shows a slightly softer side to the beloved barfly.

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The Roominghouse Madrigals

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The Roominghouse Madrigals is a selection of poetry from Charles Bukowski's early work. It shows a slightly softer side to the beloved barfly.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
These poems, gathered from the prolific poet's early, out-of-print, and now scarce pamphlets, come on the heels of his screenplay success, Barfly . In the poet's opinion, ``The early poems are more lyrical,'' but readers may find it hard to spot much diversity in Bukowski's 40 years' output; his work, whether poetry, fiction, or drama, has remained thematically stagnant. The language is a bit less ostentatious than in later work, permitting a gentle and often self-mocking humor to emerge: ``if I am a fly I'll never know/ what a lion really is.'' Other poems reveal an innate sensitivity to people, especially women, which Bukowski has apparently attempted to mask in more recent work. Rochelle Ratner, formerly Poetry Editor, ``Soho Weekly News,'' N.Y.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061877421
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 3/17/2009
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 264
  • Sales rank: 387,802
  • File size: 403 KB

Meet the Author

Charles Bukowski

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 Andernach, Germany, and raised in Los Angeles, where he lived for fifty years. He published his first story in 1944, when he was twenty-four, and began writing poetry at the age of thirty-five. He died in San Pedro, California, on March 9, 1994, at the age of seventy-three, shortly after completing his last novel, Pulp.


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

Read an Excerpt

The Roominghouse Madrigals
Early Selected Poems 1946-1966

22,000 Dollars in 3 Months

night has come like something crawling
up the bannister, sticking out its tongue
of fire, and I remember the
missionaries up to their knees in muck
retreating across the beautiful blue river
and the machine gun slugs flicking spots of
fountain and Jones drunk on the shore
saying shit shit these Indians
where'd they get the fire power?
and I went in to see Maria
and she said, do you think they'll attack,
do you think they'll come across the river?
afraid to die? I asked her, and she said
who isn't?
and I went to the medicine cabinet
and poured a tall glassful, and I said
we've made 22,000 dollars in 3 months building roads
for Jones and you have to die a little
to make it that fast Do you think the communists
started this? she asked, do you think it's the communists?
and I said, will you stop being a neurotic bitch.
these small countries rise because they are getting
their pockets filled from both sides and she
looked at me with that beautiful schoolgirl idiocy
and she walked out, it was getting dark but I let her go,
you've got to know when to let a woman go if you want to
keep her,
and if you don't want to keep her you let her go anyhow,
so it's always a process of letting go, one way or the other,
so I sat there and put the drink down and made another
and I thought, whoever thought an engineering course at Old Miss
would bring you where the lamps swing slowly
in the green of some far night?
and Jones came in with his arm around her blue waist
and she had been drinking too, and I walked up and said,
man and wife? and that made her angry for if a woman can't
get you by the nuts and squeeze, she's done,
and I poured another tall one, and
I said, you 2 may not realize it
but we're not going to get out of here alive.

we drank the rest of the night.
you could hear, if you were real still,
the water coming down between the god trees,
and the roads we had built
you could hear animals crossing them
and the Indians, savage fools with some savage cross to bear.
and finally there was the last look in the mirror
as the drunken lovers hugged
and I walked out and lifted a piece of straw
from the roof of the hut
then snapped the lighter, and I
watched the flames crawl, like hungry mice
up the thin brown stalks, it was slow but it was
a real, and then not real, something like an opera,
and then I walked down toward the machine gun sounds,
the same river, and the moon looked across at me
and in the path I saw a small snake, just a small one,
looked like a rattler, but it couldn't be a rattler,
and it was scared seeing me, and I grabbed it behind the neck
before it could coil and I held it then
its little body curled around my wrist
like a finger of love and all the trees looked with eyes
and I put my mouth to its mouth
and love was lightning and remembrance,
dead communists, dead fascists, dead democrats, dead gods and
back in what was left of the hut Jones
had his dead black arm around her dead blue waist.

The Roominghouse Madrigals
Early Selected Poems 1946-1966
. Copyright © by Charles Bukowski. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 – 2 of 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 30, 2011

    Some of his most lyrical

    If you haven't read any of his early poetry then this book is the best place to start.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 12, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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