Henry Chinaski and the Women

Many years ago I read a novel titled Postoffice by a controversial L. A. author named Charles Bukowski. I remember reading him in a column in one of the L. A. underground newspapers as The Dirty Old Man but I left Southern California in the late ’60s (one reason, to escape Ronald Reagan and also to go to graduate school in St. Louis) and the L. A. underground became a memory.

When I did get back to reading Bukowski I had become more sophisticated and less rebellious and the dirty old man was more of a fond memory than an active influence in my literary life. But I still read the old reprobate, a novel here, a poem there and especially since his death I have become quite fond of Bukowski’s writing. His subjects are generally grim but the background of a Los Angeles I was quite familiar, adding just the right amount of immediacy and charm. Now there’s a strange one: Charles Bukowski and the word charm in the same sentence.

If you are new to Bukowski, it is good to understand that although his novels are highly subjective and personal memoirs, they are still fiction. Yes, Bukowski was a drunk and not necessarily a really nice guy, but the novels are about the life of Henry Chinaski and not Charles Bukowski (no matter how alike they seem).


This last one was titled Women. It follows the fictional life of Hank Chinaski, which started in Postoffice, and explores Chinaski’s rapidly changing relationships with a variety of women. If you know something about Bukowski’s life, some of these women are awfully close to reality but we are warned that they are still fiction. I am reminded of the oft-told admonishion to “write what you know” … Bukowski knew a lot of women.

About eight years ago I was having a dialogue with a minor contemporary writer and we both agreed that Bukowski was over-rated. I don’t feel that way any more: there’s an easiness in Bukowski’s prose that allows even horrific passages to flow naturally and their raw power to sneak up on you. He might not be for everyone but I suggest you give Charles Bukowski a try.

Wikipedia gives a good bibliography:


Post Office (1971)
Factotum (1975)
Women (1978)
Ham on Rye (1982)
Hollywood (1989)
Pulp (1994)

Poetry Collections

Flower, Fist, and Bestial Wail (1960)
It Catches My Heart in Its Hands (1963)
Crucifix in a Deathhand (1965)
At Terror Street and Agony Way (1968)
Poems Written Before Jumping Out of an 8 story Window (1968)
A Bukowski Sampler (1969)
The Days Run Away Like Wild Horses Over the Hills (1969)
Fire Station (1970)
Mockingbird Wish Me Luck (1972)
Burning in Water, Drowning in Flame (1974)
Scarlet (1976)
Maybe Tomorrow (1977)
Love Is a Dog from Hell (1977)
Play the Piano Drunk Like a Percussion Instrument Until the Fingers Begin to Bleed a Bit (1979)
Dangling in the Tournefortia (1981)
War All the Time (book)|War All the Time (1984)
You Get So Alone at Times That It Just Makes Sense (1986)
The Roominghouse Madrigals (1988)
Septuagenarian Stew: Stories & Poems (1990)
People Poems (1991)
The Last Night of the Earth Poems (1992)
Betting on the Muse: Poems and Stories (1996)
Bone Palace Ballet (book)|Bone Palace Ballet (1998)
What Matters Most Is How Well You Walk Through the Fire. (1999)
Open All Night (book)|Open All Night (2000)
The Night Torn Mad with Footsteps (2001)
Sifting Through the Madness for the Word, the Line, the Way (2003)
The Flash of the Lightning Behind the Mountain (2004)
Slouching Toward Nirvana (2005)
Come on In! (2006)
The People Look Like Flowers at Last (2007)
The Pleasures of the Damned (2007)
The Continual Condition (2009)

Short Story Chapbooks and Collections

Confessions of a Man Insane Enough to Live with Beasts (1965)
All the Assholes in the World and Mine (1966)
Notes of a Dirty Old Man (1969)
Erections, Ejaculations, Exhibitions, and General Tales of Ordinary Madness(1972)
South of No North (1973)
Hot Water Music (1983)
Tales of Ordinary Madness (1983)
The Most Beautiful Woman in Town (1983)
Portions from a Wine-stained Notebook: Short Stories and Essays (2008)
Absence of the Hero (2010)
More Notes of a Dirty Old Man (2011)



Shakespeare Never Did This (1979); expanded (1995)
The Bukowski/Purdy Letters (1983)
Screams from the Balcony: Selected Letters (1993)
Living on Luck: Selected Letters, vol. 2 (1995)
The Captain Is Out to Lunch and the Sailors Have Taken Over the Ship (1998)
Reach for the Sun: Selected Letters, vol. 3 (1999)
Beerspit Night and Cursing: The Correspondense of Charles Bukowski and Sheri Martinelli (2001)
Sunlight here I am: Interviews and encounters, 1963-1993 (2003)

Film and Screenplays

Barfly (1984)
Bukowski at Bellevue 1970 – Poetry Reading
Bukowski 1973 – Californian KCET TV Documentary
Supervan 1977 – Feature Film (Not based on Bukowski’s work but Bukowski had cameo appearance as Wet T-Shirt Contest Water Boy)
There’s Gonna Be a God Damn Riot in Here – Filmed: 1979; DVD Release: 2008 – Poetry Reading
The Last Straw – Filmed: 1980; DVD Release: 2008 – Poetry Reading
Tales of Ordinary Madness – Feature Film
Poetry In Motion 1982 – General Poetry Documentary
Barfly 1987 – Feature Film
Crazy Love 1987 – Feature Film (Belgium)
Bukowski: Born Into This 2002 – Biographical Documentary
Factotum 2005 – Feature Film
The Suicide 2006 – Short film
One Tough Mother 2010 Released on DVD – Poetry Reading
Mermaid of Venice 2011 – Short film;[32]

What are your thoughts on this?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s