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
. 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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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 OlsonCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved