Old Buk, much as I enjoy the style, the wit, the verve, the sheer damn it all to hell honesty of his work, the rancid book, Women, was a something of a drag. If this is a book about sex and relationships, Henry Miller made a far greater fist of it.
Yet it’s a captivating and shrewd narrative, sentences like ‘the greatest men are the most alone’ revealing Bukowski’s misanthropy. Yet, there is much to treasure, the spark of combat, never fails.
‘You’re a whore!’ ‘Yeah, well if there’s anything worse than a whore, it’s a bore!’
‘If there’s anything worse than a bore, it’s a boring whore!
Throughout the book, Bukowski preens in grand, peacock style, displaying his everlasting mistrust of the opposite sex. The great rebel had energy, also an allergy, (I suspect), to vagina. He often mistakes abuse for enlightenment. Not quite the noble urban savage I had imagined. A fine, austere writer, with a touch of Schadenfreude around the women in his life. Bukowski revels in the downfall of his female prey. Could it be that the obsessive neatness of his prose is not so much a sock in the eye of the bourgeoisie, but a form of primness borne out upon the page? Bukowski hated verbiage, adjectives. He liked his sentences, neat, clipped, punchy, devoid of ornament. Was this a manly stride through the white picket fence of so-called, ‘truth’, or was it OCD? Hemingway had the same macho hang-ups. Useful though, producing fabulous prose. Shame about this retarded book. Then again – you could argue – Bukowski’s great gift was the willingness to lay bare his flawed and weatherbeaten humanity. (Bet he’d hate that sentence!) And the verdict? Well, there’s the usual razzle-dazzle, but it’s a litany of tedious aggression, Chinaski’s sexploits are about as thrilling as your average flasher at the bus shelter. Excuse me while I glance the other way. Bukowski seems bored by life, by the women in his life, and by a strange puritan streak, masquerading as freedom. RIP Buk.