Bukowski Not Chic

Josef Woodard, in an otherwise perceptive and thoughtful review of the film Precious, unfortunately takes an ill-informed swipe at Charles Bukowski; or, more directly, at Barfly, the 1987 film written by Bukowski and based on his life, which film is mentioned in Precious [“Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire,” 11/19/09]. Woodard says Precious is the “antithesis of the literary chic drunk tank of Barfly.” If one reads Bukowski’s poetry and stories, all based on his life, you will learn that Bukowski, like the character in Precious, suffered mental and physical abuse by his father growing up. Bukowski also, like Precious, was physically unattractive, having suffered severe, disfiguring acne in his youth. He dealt with his resulting sense of alienation and rejection by becoming an outrageous person, drinking heavily, having random sex, and getting in the occasional bar fight. He wrote about it all with brutal honesty in clear, strong poetry and prose. The way Bukowski dealt with his pain may have been the “antithesis” of the way Precious deals with hers, but the source of his suffering is the same. I was casually acquainted with Bukowski when I lived in L.A., and can tell you that the thing he was the antithesis of was “literary chic.” - Tony Wall

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