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The People Look Like Flowers At Last: New Poems Hardcover – March 27, 2007


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In a posthumously published poem, Bukowski says he's succeeded "If you read this after I am long dead." By that standard, he is indeed a success: this fifth—and purportedly last—posthumous book published since his death in 1994 offers his still-large audience more of what made Bukowski (1921–1994) and his hard-drinking alter ego Henry Chinaski famous, as chronicled, for example, in the films Barfly and Factotum. Rapid, chatty free verse records his devotion to racehorses, boxing and drinking; his sexual exploits and failures; his contempt for highbrow, hoity-toity literati, and his countervailing yearnings for literary fame. Early on, the poems show unapologetic nostalgia: in "the 1930s," "the landlord/ only got his rent/ when you had/ it." Some of the most memorable poems here record the poet's anxieties and delights while caring for his daughter. The final pages are devoted to fate, last things, old age, mortality and retrospectives on Bukowski's hard-drinking, prolific career: "we were not put here to/ enjoy easy days and/ nights." Bukowski's style did not change in his last years; readers who have already written him off are unlikely to change their minds. Fans, however, may discover one of his strongest, most affecting books. (Apr.)
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From Booklist

The purportedly "fifth and final" posthumous collection of Bukowski's inimitable poetry is also the ninth collection of it published since his 1994 demise. As the inscription on Buk's tombstone advises, "Don't try"--to make sense of his bibliography, that is. Do read the new addition to it, however. Like its predecessors, it contains four sections; the poems in each share a main concern. The first section's poems recall incidents from before Buk began publishing prolifically in 1960; the second's are about women; the third's, about the everyday madness of the famous writer's life; and the fourth's typify Buk's brand of (sometimes downright surreal) wisdom literature. Nearly all are amazingly funny, mordant, rueful, raffish, sad, resigned; all attest as firm a dedication to the lowercase as that of e. e. cummings. Standouts? Turn to "the dwarf with a punch" in section 1; the epical "Rimbaud be damned" in section 2; "I never bring my wife," with its sublime apothegm about the lonely, in section 4. Bet you'll then read the rest. Ray Olson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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"Ten Windows" by Jane Hirshfield
Hirshfield explores how poetry’s world-making takes place: word by charged word. By expanding what is imaginable and sayable, Hirshfield proposes, poems expand what is possible. See more

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Ecco; First Edition edition (March 27, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 006057707X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060577070
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,012,137 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Charles Bukowski is one of America's best-known contemporary writers of poetry and prose, and, many would claim, its most influential and imitated poet. He was born in Andernach, Germany, and raised in Los Angeles, where he lived for fifty years. He published his first story in 1944, when he was twenty-four, and began writing poetry at the age of thirty-five. He died in San Pedro, California, on March 9, 1994, at the age of seventy-three, shortly after completing his last novel, Pulp (1994).

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Michael P. Maslanka on April 8, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Sad to say, this book exhausts the remainder of Buk's poetry. The work is not as strong as earlier books, not as pointed. But as he would have understood, all ends. So what else is new? There are some strong poems: a eulogy, "legs"("she was a great woman/with great legs/but she found life too hard/she died 34 years ago and/I haven't seen/legs like that/since/and I have never stopped/looking"); one on fame and its burdens "I never bring my wife"("I would like to be human/if only they would let me"). You hear the weariness, Some shots come through, "he has a face women would love:utterly bland and blank/untouched by circumstance.") He tells us, "while most people converse away/I write it all down." We are better for it.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Robert Beveridge HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on June 23, 2010
Format: Paperback
Charles Bukowski, The People Look Like Flowers at Last (Ecco, 2007)

Being a Charles Bukowski fan since his death in 1994 has, for the most part, been an exercise in treading water. He left a phenomenal body of work to be published posthumously, but let's face it, he published most of the good stuff before he died. Way before, some would say. But The People Look Like Flowers at Last is the first book of poetry (The Captain Is Out to Lunch and the Sailors Have Taken Over the Ship, a book of prose, is remarkable) since Bukowski's death where some of the poems really resound. Like Burning in Water, Drowning in Flame resound. Sure, in a book of three hundred pages, not all of them do, but some of this is Buk's best work since the early seventies. And all this time it was sitting in a drawer...

"I suppose like other
I have come through fire and sword,
love gone wrong,
head-on crashes, drunk at sea,
and I have listened to the simple sound of water running in tube
and wished to drown
but simply couldn't bear the others
carrying my body down three flights of stairs
to the round mouths of curious biddies..."
("it is not much")

So many of Bukowski's poems from the past forty years have been observational and nothing else. Astute, well-worded observations, of course, but no sense of closure, nothing other than stories that seem to be told and then sit there without asking the reader to think more. I'm not denigrating this type of poem (at least not when Bukowski writes it), but every once in a while he pops up with a poem in a more traditional structure, something that says "hey, you know, I've been thinking about..." and blasting the reader with fantastic images that are actually anchored to something.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By H. Smith on September 3, 2008
Format: Paperback
For me this is one of the best books of prose or poetry I have read. I ear marked several. This is a now one of my favorite books.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Meghan Caughlin on November 22, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Read it front to back, back to front, or dip in and step out at your leisure. I keep it close at hand for a Bukowski fix and it always does me right.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By C. Keller on July 6, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This poetry collection was a little spottier than other books like, say, "Open All Night" - but the fact that this is one of several posthumous publications of Bukowski's work, it is remarkable that there are as many gems as there are in this book.

If you're interested in his racetrack poems or his poems about other writers, this book has some great ones. It's a bit lacking in those striking poems about the death of one of his former wives, which were always surprisingly vulnerable for such an already candid poet.

I would recommend this book to any Bukowski fan - it's a bit rough as a 100% first-Bukowski read - but weak Bukowski is still excellent poetry.
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