Fiction. Literary Nonfiction. Edited by David Calonne. Everyone's favorite Dirty Old Man returns with a new volume of uncollected work. Bukowski, one of the most outrageous figures of 20th-century American literature, was so prolific that many significant pieces never found their way into his books. ABSENCE OF THE HERO contains much of his earliest fiction, unseen in decades, as well as a number of previously unpublished stories and essays. The classic Bukowskian obsessions are here: sex, booze, and gambling, along with trenchant analysis of what he calls "Playing and Being the Poet." Among the book's highlights are tales of his infamous public readings ("The Big Dope Reading," "I Just Write Poetry So I Can Go to Bed with Girls"); a review of his own first book; hilarious installments of his newspaper column, Notes of a Dirty Old Man, including meditations on neo-Nazis and driving in Los Angeles; and an uncharacteristic tale of getting lost in the Utah woods ("Bukowski Takes a Trip"). Yet the book also showcases the other Bukowski--an astute if offbeat literary critic. From his own "Manifesto" to his account of poetry in Los Angeles ("A Foreword to These Poets") to idiosyncratic evaluations of Allen Ginsberg, Robert Creeley, LeRoi Jones, and Louis Zukofsky, ABSENCE OF THE HERO reveals the intellectual hidden beneath the gruff exterior.
Paul Maher, Jr in PhawkerJohnson Cummins in Montreal Mirror
Charles Bukowski was born in Andernach, Germany, on August 16, 1920, the only child of an American soldier and a German mother. At the age of three, he came with his family to the United States and grew up in Los Angeles. He attended Los Angeles City College from 1939 to 1941, then left school and moved to New York City to become a writer. His lack of publishing success at this time caused him to give up writing in 1946 and spurred a ten-year stint of heavy drinking. After he developed a bleeding ulcer, he decided to take up writing again. He worked a wide range of jobs to support his writing, including dishwasher, truck driver and loader, mail carrier, guard, gas station attendant, stock boy, warehouse worker, shipping clerk, post office clerk, parking lot attendant, Red Cross orderly, and elevator operator. He also worked in a dog biscuit factory, a slaughterhouse, a cake and cookie factory, and he hung posters in New York City subways. Bukowski published his first story when he was twenty-four and began writing poetry at the age of thirty-five. His first book of poetry was published in 1959; he went on to publish more than forty-five books of poetry and prose. Bukowski died of leukemia in San Pedro on March 9, 1994.Author City: Los Angeles, CA USA