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Unmasks the tough, street-smart persona of Charles Bukowski—America's "Ultimate Outsider"
Amazing letters filled with passionate, literary, and personal observation Insights into the author of Tales of Ordinary Madness, Notes of a Dirty Old Man, and Run with the Hunted Insights into Sheri Martinelli: the protege of Anais Nin, an accomplished painter, and the mistress of Ezra Pound Charels Bukowski's persona as the Dirty Old Man of American Literature is just that: a persona, a mask beneath which there was a man better read and more cultured than most people realize.
Sheri Martinelli was one of the favored few for whom Bukowski dropped the mask and engaged in serious discussion of literature and art, and for that reason the discovery and publication of his letters to her give us a more complete picture of this complicated man.
Literary bad boy Bukowski and New York editor/scenester Martinelli Ezra Pound's former girlfriend exchanged hundreds of pages of wacky, outrageous, often oddly intellectual correspondence, but never actually met. Moore, who knew Martinelli and has written or edited several volumes on William Gaddis and others, posits, in a very necessary introduction, that Martinelli "was one of the favored few for whom Bukowski dropped the mask and engaged in serious discussion of literature and art." Predictably, Bukowski wasn't meticulous about saving Martinelli's letters, so his voice dominates, which is not a bad thing his letters are more substantively and stylistically interesting than Martinelli's, which tend to mimic Pound while reacting to Bukowski's offenses and exaggerations. Hell-bent on breaking every rule of style, Bukowski sometimes achieves lively, spontaneous prose ("don't you go slipping me no god damned educational material, I got an education of my own, mostly all at once one night"), sometimes cryptic utterances ("much short, today. tied to rocks of all sorts but will escape") and outright misogyny ("I do not read a female face; I read a female ass"). While Bukowski's letters (often written under the influence of alcohol and nausea) are shot through with vulgarity, much semi-concealed literary criticism can be gleaned. This important volume will be required reading for scholars of Bukowski, Pound, the Beat poets and American postwar art and poetry. Fans of Bukowski's irreverent ranting will rejoice; others may tire of his relentless, self-indulgent misanthropy. 16 pages of illus. not seen by PW.