on December 29, 1999
As a long-time reader of Buk,and a friend to whom he wrote,I was deeply interested in what a few more letters from the last years might tell me about this spectacular American writer. I learned a lot. He made wise poetry out of his correspondence, and this writing is as good as any of his other writing. It's full of specifics, about writers, about Peformance poets (whom he detested),about writing versus 'getting famous',about the botched biography of him written by N. Cherkovski,about his leukemia,about his contempt for Hollwood, and about his dying. Mostly, it's about the courageous and outrageous word-wizard, Bukowski, slinging his attitudes to those who were listening,about how to keep life alive when so many around are just making life into a dead boring heap of competition. It is likely one his wisest books, and his humor jolts out frequently at the oddest times, creating that laugh-out-loud shock of the Real as he lays his defining cement with the coolest, toughest trowel ever used by an American writer.This is more of Bukowski at his best, especially for those who like to read between the lines.
on May 16, 1999
In Reach for the Sun: Selected Letters 1978-1994, Volume 3, Charles Bukowski is once again revealed as the legendary poet slash literary critic slash self-publicist he was. We see the workings, the behind-the-scenes business letters to editors (most to New York Quarterly's William Packard, to whom Bukowski dedicated his Run with the Hunted collection), his publisher John Martin and various writers and book collectors. Calculating, vindictive, repetitive and self-obsessed as they are, many of the rants are humorous...yet sometimes the reader is laughing at the one-man show and his unironic [sic] contradictions. "Good move to get out of New York," he writes to Stephen Kessler on January 29, 1993; the book's very next letter (written on the same day) to Packard begins: "Just received NYQ #49. I am honored..." Was he running out of outlets for his work? He slams Marvin Malone, the late editor of The Wormwood Review, writing him off in late '91 as getting "...too picky but I feel that he is picking wrong. As the years go on I see him more and more printing the comfortable poem." As the years went on, Bukowski went back on his word (see previous volumes 1 and 2) and did write forewords to poetry collections by obscure poets like Douglas Goodwin. Again, it seems another business-minded decision by the master. The backstabbing is tempered by insight into Bukowski's life during his last years, making Reach for the Sun a must-read for Buk fans. Regardless of its sometimes pandering subject matter and petulance.
on May 13, 1999
It's a pleasure to see some new names in this latest volume from Black Sparrow, new Bukowski correspondents that is. Douglas Goodwin, a poet whose work so turned on Bukowski that Buk wrote a Foreword to Goodwin's SLAMMING IT DOWN poetry volume - the only foreword Bukowski wrote for any poet during the last l5 years of Buk's life. Many letters written to poet Gerald Locklin are published herein.One main theme of these letters is Bukowski's reaction to the biography of Bukowski written by Neeli Cherkovski. Fascinating brilliant commentary from the subject of a biography focused like a burning searing laser beam on a biographer this time. Mr. Cherkovski - take note!"Reach For The Sun" indeed. But just buy this book - don't burn yourself! This letters collection is worth ten+ times what the book sellers are asking.