'If a man truly desires to write, then he will.
Rejection and ridicule will only strengthen him . . . There is no losing in writing, it will make your toes laugh as you sleep, it will make you stride like a tiger, it will fire the eye and put you face to face with death. You will die a fighter, you will be honored in hell. The luck of the word. Go with it, send it.'
Charles Bukowski was one of our most iconoclastic, raw and riveting writers, one whose stories, poems and novels have left an enduring mark on our culture. On Writing collects Bukowski's reflections and ruminations on the craft he dedicated his life to.
Piercing, unsentimental and often hilarious, On Writing is filled not only with memorable lines but also with the author's trademark toughness, leavened with moments of grace, pathos and intimacy. In the previously unpublished letters to editors, friends and fellow writers collected here, Bukowski is brutally frank about the drudgery of work and uncompromising when it comes to the absurdities of life and of art.
Almost 50 years' worth of the letters of poet, novelist, and screenwriter Bukowski (1920 1994) capture much about him: his compulsive writing, brilliant phrase-making, unapologetic drinking, and problematic relationships with women. The letters, written between 1945 and 1993 to correspondents including friends, editors, critics, and academics, are routinely obscenity-laden, often funny, always opinionated, and very occasionally tender. Just as Bukowski could be offensive when alive, many will find his letters equally offensive (as when he reacts unapologetically to feminist critics). Nonetheless, it is hard not to respect his unflagging devotion to his art and unflinching application of his hypercritical mind to whoever fell under his gaze. Many of the letters are occasions for passionate, searing opinions on subjects that include young writers, critics, and famous authors. Hemingway, Bukowski opines, "makes you feel cheated," while Henry Miller is difficult to read when he gets "into his Star-Trek babbling." And Bukowski's opinions about writers are not confined to their literary merits: "I rather guess Lawrence was a breast-man rather than a leg-man." The letters are a wild ride informed in equal parts by ego, alcoholism, misanthropy, erudition, and the genius, as Bukowski puts it, of one "touched by the grace of the word."