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Charles Bukowski: On Love (Hardcover)

Charles Bukowski: On Love (Hardcover)

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Published in 2017, Charles Bukowski: On Love, is part of a series of books published by Ecco, with each volume having an individual theme. In this case, Charles Bukowski’s works on the topic of Love. Other books in the series include, On Writing, On Cats, and On Drinking.

The editor of the series is Abel Debritto, a former Fulbright scholar and current Marie Curie fellow, working in the digital humanities. He is also the leading scholar on Charles Bukowski. He has written several papers on Bukowski and his research has appeared in many publications. His ground-breaking book, “Charles Bukowski, King of the Underground: From Obscurity to Literary Icon”, is a study on Bukowski’s appearances in small magazines from the late 1950s to 1970.

In the 2010s, Debritto began to see for himself what others in the Bukowski community had been saying for years: The posthumus poems being published differed from Bukowski’s original manuscripts of the same poems. Sometimes to a slight degree, sometimes total reworks of the poems. Many readers and critics noticed a decline in Bukowski’s writing in these books, and the easy conclusion was that Bukowski had somehow “lost it” in his in his final years. But Debritto was one of those who looked deeper and discovered that most of these were not written in Bukowski’s later years, but much earlier.

During a November 6, 2017 PBS radio broadcast, Debritto discussed his findings. He didn’t point to anyone as being responsible for the edits. But the following day, Ecco released “Storm for the Living and the Dead: Uncollected and Unpublished Poems” with Debritto listed as the editor. 

In addition to the unedited poems found in On Love, there are a number of great drawings Debritto discovered over his many years of research in university archives. In my opinion, those alone are worth purchasing the book.

The poems in this volume include:
Charles Bukowski was a man of intense emotions, someone an editor once called a “passionate madman.” In On Love, we see Bukowski reckoning with the complications and exaltations of love, lust, and desire. Alternating between tough and gentle, sensitive and gritty, Bukowski lays bare the myriad facets of love—its selfishness and its narcissism, its randomness, its mystery and its misery, and, ultimately, its true joyfulness, endurance, and redemptive power.

Bukowski is brilliant on love—often amusing, sometimes playful, and fleetingly sweet. On Love offers deep insight into Bukowski the man and the artist; whether writing about his daughter, his lover, his friends, or his work, he is piercingly honest and poignantly reflective, using love as a prism to see the world in all its beauty and cruelty, and his own fragile place in it. “My love is a hummingbird sitting that quiet moment on the bough,” he writes, “as the same cat crouches.”

Brutally honest, flecked with humor and pathos, On Love reveals Bukowski at his most candid and affecting.

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