Absence of the Hero
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
Everyone’s favorite Dirty Old Man returns with a new volume of uncollected work. Charles Bukowski (1920–1994), one of the most outrageous figures of twentieth-century American literature, was so prolific that many significant pieces never found their way into his books. Absence of the Hero contains much of his earliest fiction, unseen in decades, as well as a number of previously unpublished stories and essays. The classic Bukowskian obsessions are here: sex, booze, and gambling, along with trenchant analysis of what he calls "Playing and Being the Pet." Among the book's highlights are tales of his infamous public readings ("The Big Dope Reading," "I Just Write Poetry So I Can Go to Bed with Girls"); a review of his own first book; hilarious installments of his newspaper column, Notes of a Dirty Old Man, including meditations on neo-Nazis and driving in Los Angeles; and an uncharacteristic tale of getting lost in the Utah woods ("Bukowski Takes a Trip"). Yet the book also showcases the other Bukowski-an astute if offbeat literary critic. From his own "Manifesto" to his account of poetry in Los Angeles ("A Foreword to These Poets") to idiosyncratic evaluations of Allen Ginsberg, Robert Creeley, LeRoi Jones, and Louis Zukofsky, Absence of the Hero reveals the intellectual hidden beneath the gruff exterior.
Our second volume of his uncollected prose, Absence of the Hero is a major addition to the Bukowski canon, essential for fans, yet suitable for new readers as an introduction to the wide range of his work.
"He loads his head full of coal and diamonds shoot out of his finger tips. What a trick. The mole genius has left us with another digest. It's a full house--read 'em and weep."—Tom Waits
"This second volume of Bukowski's uncollected stories and essays offers all that Bukowski is known for—wry obscenity, smutty wisdom, seeming ramblings whose hidden smarts catch you unaware--but in addition there are moments here in which he takes off the mask and strips away the bravado to show himself at his most vulnerable and human. A must for Bukowski aficionados."—Brian Evenson, author of Last Days and The Open Curtain
"Like a brass-rail Existentialist or a skid-row Transcendentalist, [Bukowski] is candid, unblinking, leaving it to his readers to cast their own judgment about his mishaps, his drinking, his sexual appetite or his own pessimism. He is Ralph Waldo Emerson as a Dirty Old Man, not lounging in the grape-arbor of Concord, Massachusetts, but bent-over a table in an L.A. flophouse scribbling in pencil to the strains of Sibelius."—Paul Maher Jr., Phawker
"[Bukowski] could be generous and mean-spirited, heroic and defensive, spot-on and slanted, but he became the world-class writer he had set out to be; he has joined the permanent anti-canon or shadow-canon whose denizens had shown him the way. Today the frequent allusions to him in both popular and mainstream culture tend more to respect than mockery. If scholarship has lagged, this book would indicate that this situation is changing."—Gerald Locklin, Resources for American Literary Study
"The pieces range over nearly half a century, and include a story about a baseball player seized by a sudden bout of existential paralysis, along with early, graphically sexual (and masterfully comic) stories published in such smut mags as Candid Press."—Penthouse
"An absolute must for fans of Charles Bukowski's work, Absence of a Hero is also a welcome addition to public and college library literary studies shelves."—Midwest Book Review
you hung by your ankles out the window of that fourth floor of that hotel. The whores in that room weeping, begging you to come back inside. Promising to suck your cock, lick the hairs of your asshole, anything. Hehe, that was good. Go suck a hot spoon, DeJohns. That was funny. But funnier was when you tried to lift yourself in and your legs wouldn’t pull you up. You had your ankles wrapped around the wooden separator that made two windows out of one. Then you got real funny. Yeah? Yeah.
HANGING OUT THE WINDOWS BY YOUR FEET? Hehehe. And you saying, JUST TRYING TO PUT SOME LIFE INTO THIS GODDAMNED PARTY! Hehehehe. And the landlord saying, ALL RIGHT. YOU DO THAT ONE MORE TIME AND I’M GOING TO CALL THE POLICE! Hehehe. DeJohns looked at me: “What has happened to you, Bukowski?” I don’t know, man. Tired. I was going to do a book on your life. Now you no longer interest me. The things I did were things I had to do. I don’t need those things anymore. FUCK YOU, MAN! YOU’RE FINISHED!
about as it hung from a shoestring from the rearview mirror. And my automobile insurance is paid up for a year in advance. The Big Dope Reading They had mailed the tickets, and I came flying into this little town off the east coast of Florida. I waited for the passengers to climb out, and then I got up and walked down the ramp and saw the two poetry-hound types waiting, so I walked up to them: “I’m Chinaski,” I said, and they grinned and grinned. We walked over and waited for the bags, and
drunk to be totally hard, but once I got it in I lucked it—the steel came along. It was a good ride, but I fell back once, quit, and then she started playing with me. She had a way of joggling my balls. She slid her tongue up and down the backside of my cock, then she took it all in—suddenly—and I ripped it out of her mouth, mounted her and came within 15 strokes—which wasn’t too kind—but I didn’t care—readings wore me out, and I still loved Holly better. Kali didn’t make it to work, and the
“THANKS, BABY, TELL THEM TO WAIT! I’LL BE RIGHT BACK!” “I LOVE YOU, HARRY. . . . I’M SO SORRY, OH MY GOD, I’M SO SORRY!” “IT’S O.K., BABY, I’LL BE RIGHT BACK!” Harry ran further left down the block. He ran down the drive of the Henderson house. The hired yardman, a thin and rather contented fellow, was using his leaf-blower to clear away various debris. As Harry ran up the yardman saw this thing running toward him, this thing with a bloody white arm-end. He screamed, lifted the blower and shot