Run With the Hunted: A Charles Bukowski Reader

( 4 )

Overview

The best of Bukowski's novels, stories, and poems, this collection reads like an autobiography, relating the extraordinary story of his life and offering a sometimes harrowing, invariably exhilarating reading experience. A must for this counterculture idol's legion of fans.

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Overview

The best of Bukowski's novels, stories, and poems, this collection reads like an autobiography, relating the extraordinary story of his life and offering a sometimes harrowing, invariably exhilarating reading experience. A must for this counterculture idol's legion of fans.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Los Angeles Times
Bukowski is the laureate of the Los Angeles underground, an eccentric who sees the world with a clarity of vision possessed only by artists and madmen.
New York Times Book Review
Bukowski writes well, for one thing, with ear-pleasing cadences, wit and perfect clarity....There is real poignancy in the people encountered in his work.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060924584
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 5/28/1994
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 512
  • Sales rank: 187,222
  • Product dimensions: 5.31 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 1.15 (d)

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.

Biography

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

And the great white horses come up & lick the frost of the dream

The first thing I remember is being under something. It was a table, I saw a table leg, I saw the legs of the people, and a portion of the tablecloth hanging down. It was dark under there, I liked being under there. It must have been in Germany. I must have been between one and two years old. It was 1922. I felt good under the table. Nobody seemed to know that I was there. There was sunlight upon the rug and on the legs of the people. I liked the sunlight. The legs of the people were not interesting, not like the tablecloth which hung down, not like the table leg, not like the sunlight.

Then there is nothing . . . then a Christmas tree. Candles. Bird ornaments: birds with small berry branches in their beaks. A star. Two large people fighting, screaming. People eating, always people eating. I ate too. My spoon was bent so that if I wanted to eat I had to pick the spoon up with my right hand. If I picked it up with my left hand, the spoon bent away from my mouth. I wanted to pick the spoon up with my left hand.

Two people: one larger with curly hair, a big nose, a big mouth, much eyebrow; the larger person always seeming to be angry, often screaming; the smaller person quiet, round of face, paler, with large eyes. I was afraid of both of them. Sometimes there was a third, a fat one who wore dresses with lace at the throat. She wore a large brooch, and had many warts on her face with little hairs growing out of them. "Emily," they called her. These people didn't seem happy together. Emily was the grandmother, my father's mother. My father's name was "Henry." My mother's name was "Katherine." I never spoketo them by name. I was "Henry, Jr." These people spoke German most of the time and in the beginning I did too.

The first thing I remember my grandmother saying was, "I will bury all of you!" She said this the first time just before we began eating a meal, and she was to say it many times after that, just before we began to eat. Eating seemed very important. We ate mashed potatoes and gravy, especially on Sundays. We also ate roast beef, knockwurst and sauerkraut, green peas, rhubarb, carrots, spinach, string beans, chicken, meatballs and spaghetti, sometimes mixed with ravioli; there were boiled onions, asparagus, and every Sunday there was strawberry shortcake with vanilla ice cream. For breakfasts we had french toast and sausages, or there were hotcakes or waffles with bacon and scrambled eggs on the side. And there was always coffee. But what I remember best is all the mashed potatoes and gravy and my grandmother, Emily, saying, "I will bury all of you!"

She visited us often after we came to America, taking the red trolley in from Pasadena to Los Angeles. We only went to see her occasionally, driving out in the Model-T Ford.

I liked my grandmother's house. It was a small house under an overhanging mass of pepper trees. Emily had all her canaries in different cages. I remember one visit best. That evening she went about covering the cages with white hoods so that the birds could sleep. The people sat in chairs and talked. There was a piano and I sat at the piano and hit the keys and listened to the sounds as the people talked. I liked the sound of the keys best up at one end of the piano where there was hardly any sound at all--the sound the keys made was like chips of ice striking against one another.

"Will you stop that?" my father said loudly.

"Let the boy play the piano," said my grandmother.

My mother smiled.

"That boy," said my grandmother, "when I tried to pick him up out of the cradle to kiss him, he reached up and hit me in the nose!"

They talked some more and I went on playing the piano.

"Why don't you get that thing tuned?" asked my father
--Ham on Rye

ice for the eagles

I keep remembering the horses
under the moon
I keep remembering feeding the horses
sugar
white oblongs of sugar
more like ice,
and they had heads like
eagles
bald heads that could bite and
did not.

The horses were more real than
my father
more real than God
and they could have stepped on my
feet but they didn't
they could have done all kinds of horrors
but they didn't.
I was almost 5
but I have not forgotten yet;
o my god they were strong and good
those red tongues slobbering
out of their souls.

I had begun to dislike my father. He was always angry about something. Wherever we went he got into arguments with people. But he didn't appear to frighten most people; they often just stared at him, calmly, and he became more furious. If we ate out, which was seldom, he always found something wrong with the food and sometimes refused to pay. "There's flyshit in this whipped cream! What the hell kind of a place is this?"

"I'm sorry, sir, you needn't pay. Just leave."

"I'll leave, all right! But I'll be back! I'll burn this god-damned place down!"

Once we were in a drug store and my mother and I were standing to one side while my father yelled at a clerk. Another clerk asked my mother, "Who is that horrible man? Every time he comes in here there's an argument."

"That's my husband," my mother told the clerk.

Yet, I remember another time. He was working as a milkman and made early morning deliveries. One morning he awakened me. "Come on, I want to show you something." I walked outside with him. I was wearing my pajamas and slippers. It was still dark, the moon was still up. We walked to the milk wagon which was horsedrawn. The horse stood very still. "Watch," said my father. He took a sugar cube, put it in his hand and held it out to the horse. The horse ate it out of his palm. "Now you try it . . . " He put a sugar cube in my hand. It was a very large horse. "Get closer! Hold out your hand!" I was afraid the horse would bite my hand off. The head came down; I saw the nostrils; the lips pulled back, I saw the tongue and the teeth, and then the sugar cube was gone. "Here. Try it again . . . " I tried it again. The horse took the sugar cube and waggled his head. "Now," said my father, "I'll take you back inside before the horse shits on you."

I was not allowed to play with other children. "They are bad children," said my father, "their parents are poor." "Yes," agreed my mother. My parents wanted to be rich so they imagined themselves rich.

The first children of my age that I knew were in kindergarten. They seemed very strange, they laughed and talked and seemed happy. I didn't like them. I always felt as if I was going to be sick, to vomit, and the air seemed strangely still and white. We painted with watercolors. We planted radish seeds in a garden and some weeks later we ate them with salt. I liked the lady who taught kindergarten, I liked her better than my parents.

--Ham on Rye

rags, bottles, sacks

as a boy
I remember the sound
of:
"RAGS! BOTTLES! SACKS!"

"RAGS! BOTTLES! SACKS!"
it was during the
Depression
and you could hear the
voice
long before you saw the
old wagon
and the
old tired
swaybacked horse.

then you heard the
hooves:
clop, clop, clop . . .

and then you saw the
horse and the
wagon

and it always seemed
to be
on the hottest summer
day:

"RAGS! BOTTLES! SACKS!"

oh
that horse was so
tired--
white streams of
saliva
drooling
as the bit dug into
the
mouth

he pulled an intolerable
load
of
rags, bottles, sacks

I saw his eyes
large
in agony

his ribs
showing

the giant flies
whirled and landed upon
raw places on his
skin.

sometimes
one of our fathers would
yell:
"Hey! Why don't you
feed that horse, you
bastard!
"

the man's answer was
always the
same:
"RAGS! BOTTLES! SACKS!"

the man was
incredibly
dirty, un-
shaven, wearing a crushed
and stained
fedora

he
sat on top of
a large pile of
sacks

and
now and
then
as the horse seemed to
miss
a step

this man would
lay down
the long whip . . .

the sound was like a
rifle shot

a phalanx of flies would
rise
and the horse would
yank forward
anew

the hooves slipping and
sliding on the hot
asphalt

and then
all we could
see
was the back of the
wagon
and
the massive mound of
rags and bottles
covered with
brown
sacks

and
again
the voice:
"RAGS! BOTTLES! SACKS!"

he was
the first man
I ever wanted to
kill

and
there have been
none
since.

Run with the Hunted. Copyright © by Charles J. 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 all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 16, 2001

    Can't beat old Buk

    Beware literature buffs THIS IS NOT YOUR AUTHOR!!! This is a great first book to get yourself hooked by the blatant realism of Charles Bukowski. Disguised as Henry Chinaski, Buk takes us from his early days smoking cigarettes in grade school to his later and more wild years on the bar circuit, at the horse track, and living in various flop houses. His stories will prove absolutely revolting to the newcomer, but hold on, because old Henry is a master of observation. The language and flowing beauty that composes his poetry makes you wonder how exactly he ended up in such raw situations. He must have firmly believed that if you want the sweetest juice, you've got to squeeze the fruit as tight as you can. And squeeze it he does. Once he starts drinking that juice, look out. His drunken escapades are a force to be reckoned with. This book is not for the faint hearted. It's for someone who is comfortable with life's billions of possibilities and wants to get a few good laughs too. But proceed with caution! If you think you're a fan, you'll probably end up buying all of his books. Bukowski was a master of words and imagery. His poetry will leave you laughing, crying and maybe a little enlightened too. His short stories will give you a hint on which horse to play this weekend, and how NOT to treat the person you're in love with. I truly recommend that every serious reader / writer at least get a little piece of what this funny old man left us. He makes life seem a bit more comforting to the man who finds solace in a cold beer, a warm steak, and the thunderous gallop of a thoroughbred as he races across the finish line....

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 1, 2013

    Snapshots From A Master

    Bukowski may be the bwst American writer most people have never read. No high school teacher would dare give a Bukowski book to a classroom of teenagers, except on the day of retirement.

    His 20 novels, dozens of short stories, and hundreds of poems were written about his life and the people he knew. Bukowski was a heavy boozer, a womanizer, and the guy you avoid at the corner bar. He abused the women in his life and women lined up for his attention. He writes honestly about being a really rotten person, and makes his rotteness interesting.

    This book takes a page or two from a novel, jumps to a short story and then to a poem. The result is a scrapbook from his writing and his life. Theresult is piwerful proof that great writers are often from from being great human beings.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 25, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted December 26, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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