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Charles Bukowski: On Writing (Hardcover)

Charles Bukowski: On Writing (Hardcover)

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Published in 2015, Charles Bukowski: On Writing, 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 Writing. Other books in the series include, On Love, 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 But the following day, Ecco released “Storm for the Living and the Dead: Uncollected and Unpublished Poems” with Debritto listed as the editor.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 Writing, there are a few great drawings Debritto discovered over his many years of research in university archives. In my opinion, those alone are worth purchasing the book.

From the Publisher:
On Writing reveals an artist brutally frank about the drudgery of work and canny and uncompromising about the absurdities of life—and of art. It illuminates the hard-edged, complex humanity of a true American legend and counterculture icon—the “laureate of American lowlife” (Time)—who stoically recorded society’s downtrodden and depraved. It exposes an artist grounded in the visceral, whose work reverberates with his central ideal: “Don't try.”

Piercing, poignant, and often hilarious, On Writing is filled not only with memorable lines but also with Bukowski’s trademark toughness, leavened with moments of grace, pathos, and intimacy.

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