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Screams from the Balcony: Selected Letters 1960-1970 (ECCO)

Screams from the Balcony: Selected Letters 1960-1970 (ECCO)

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Though he wrote novels, short stories and poems, some of Bukowski’s best work came in the form of letters. Anyone who has enjoyed reading Bukowski’s fiction will find these writings just as enjoyable.

There were three books of letters published by Black Sparrow Press, each edited by Seamus Cooney, who acted in various roles throughout the lifetime of the press. But the three books of letters were definitely his masterpiece. Bukowski fans, collectors and especially researchers owe a great debt of gratitude to Cooney for the way he carefully compiled the letters, perhaps even slipping a few by publisher John Martin.

Of the three volumes, this was the first, published by Black Sparrow Press in 1993 under the title, “Screams from the Balcony: Selected Letters 1960-1970.” This is a critical period in Bukowski’s life, when he had yet to reach any type of fame. He is being published in hundreds of small magazines, has his first real books published by LouJon Press, and becomes a father for the first time.

The rest, as they say, is history, and this book of letters documents that history in humorous, savage letters that let you peek into the real life of Charles Bukowski.

This is a 2003 copy from ECCO, a HarperCollins imprint. I’ll grade it Near Fine in unread condition.

From Publishers Weekly
This wonderful collection of letters chronicles Bukowski's life from his first days as a poet having meager success through his resignation from his postal job to pursue writing as his sole source of income. In between, the letters reveal in raw and uncensored fashion how a hard-drinking, hard-living man followed his own vision of poetic truth and artistic integrity. Earlier letters are written to the few editors, poets and admirers who had become aware of Bukowski's wild poetry. In them, we see the 40-year-old author struggling to make ends meet through an alcoholic stupor of which he is neither ashamed nor apologetic. We read of his thrill as his first book appears-- directly in the aftermath of the assassination of JFK. Even as his fame grows and his friends are convinced that he has made it, Bukowski remains in ill health and financial insecurity. The honesty, humor and lack of pretension in these letters make them a must for Bukowski fans and an engaging read for anyone interested in literary lives. Reproductions of letters and an afterword by Cooney round out the volume nicely.

Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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