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200 × 130 mm
224 pages
32 illustrations
01 Aug 2012
Critical Lives

Charles Bukowski David Stephen Calonne

Born in Germany in 1920 and raised in the United States, the poet, short-story writer and novelist Charles Bukowski occupies a unique place in world literature. Bukowski’s prolific output sits at the confluence of a number of major literary, creative and intellectual traditions; this new interpretation of his life and work details the diverse fields that influenced him – a list that includes German philosophers (Nietzsche, Schopenhauer); Russian writers (Dostoevsky, Gorky); American poets (Whitman, Pound, the Beats); classical music; and the eighth-century Chinese poet Li Po.

Also crucial to Bukowski’s development as a writer was his German-American heritage, and in this book David Stephen Calonne reveals this hybrid identity to be as critical to any understanding of Bukowski’s biography and oeuvre as his abusive childhood and discovery in adolescence of the ecstasy of alcohol. Exploring several little-known works of fiction and poetry dating from the early years of his career, his major works, including Post Office and Factotum, and the many volumes of poetry published with Black Sparrow Press, Calonne studies the numerous versions of Bukowski created by the writer himself and his followers.

A concise yet comprehensive new account, Charles Bukowski will be of interest to those already fans of this influential figure and an invaluable introduction to those new to his work.

‘David Stephen Calonne is a Bukowski scholar and this highly readable account informs and entertains without ever condescending . . . this is a very readable summary of his career and Calonne does not shy away from discussing Bukowski’s “self-mythologising”.’ – Daily Telegraph

Calonne’s attention to detail is to be applauded . . . his work is outstanding. There isn’t any excess here or filler. The fact that Calonne has written at length before about Bukowski, is steeped in him, shines through. He knows his stuff and we are the beneficiaries.’ – Beat Scene

‘The book as a whole moves at a brisk pace and is very readable. Full of fascinating detail and tantalising references it has taught me a lot about this remarkable literary outsider.’ – The Generalist

‘Both Charles Bukowski and Allen Ginsberg use a no-nonsense, clear prose style to convey the biographical essentials of their subject, have many illustrations, relate the biographical life of the poets to their works directly, and have the enormous virtue of brevity . . . combined with their clarity and persistent relation of subject to poetic product, makes them ideal introductory texts.’ – Year's Work in English Studies

Charles Bukowski by David Calonne is not just the best book on Charles Bukowski’s writing, it is the ONLY one.’ – John Martin, founder of The Black Sparrow Press

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David Stephen Calonne is the author of William Saroyan: My Real Work is Being and Bebop Buddhist Ecstasy: Saroyans Influence on Kerouac and the Beats with an introduction by Lawrence Ferlinghetti. He has edited several collections of Bukowski’s writings, including Portions from a Wine-Stained Notebook (2008), Absence of the Hero (2010) and More Notes of A Dirty Old Man (2011).