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Jennifer SchuesslerA literary garden requires ''plenty of manure,'' Bukowski once said to John Martin, and this collection gathers a good deal of tossed-off fertilizer along with the blooms. But it stands in spite of this -- or perhaps because of it? -- as a testament to outward sloth and a fierce, inverted work ethic, a belief in self-help through unending self-attention, a refusal to waste even the smallest table scrap of world or time. ''The word should be like / butter or avocados or / steak or hot biscuits, or onion rings or / whatever is really / needed,'' he writes in ''Christmas Poem to a Man in Jail.'' ''Maybe if we write well enough / and live a little better / life will improve a bit / just out of shame.''
—The New York Times Book Review