Bukowski…Boring?

After finishing the excellent book Galveston, written by True Detective creator Nic Pizzolatto, I thought I might go back revisit one of Charles Bukowski’s old works.

Factotum. I am not shy in professing my admiration for the life’s work of Buk, and consider myself another in the endless line of adult male wannabee scribes that mold themselves in his image. Drink, fuck, write, fight: all very male pursuits, all what we ultimately want to do aside from lead “normal” lives, whatever they are anyway.

Something struck me as I was reading Factotum, something that I am almost afraid to admit: his writing bores the heck out of me. Maybe it’s just this book, maybe I’m just not in the mood for Bukowski’s particular style of writing these days – whatever it is, it’s disturbing me greatly. I don’t claim to have many heroes, but Buk is right up there at the top of the list for me. I recall enjoying his collected short stories, Hot Water Music was fantastic, as was Tales of Ordinary Madness, so maybe I’ll go back to those next.

I tried reading Bret Easton Ellis again a year or so ago, and had to stop. His writing just did nothing for me anymore. His powers were useless against me. At one time, maybe fifteen years ago, Ellis was my primary influence. I adored his writing. Now? Not so much.

Hopefully this is not happening with Bukowski.

But it got me thinking, maybe writers are like certain people in your life. You know how sometimes you collect friends, do your time with them and then the friendship gradually fades to nothing? This has happened to me in my adult life, particularly if I change jobs. It’s like some people enter your life simply so you can make it through that part of it relatively unscathed. Once that period of time is over, each party slowly but surely moves on and life resumes its natural course.

Maybe that’s what writers are to us. Perhaps they exist only to help us better understand the world, to take what we need from their words and move on to the next phase.

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