Cover image for Drinking with Bukowski : recollections of the poet laureate of Skid Row
Title:
Drinking with Bukowski : recollections of the poet laureate of Skid Row
Author:
Weizmann, Daniel, 1967-
Publication Information:
New York : Thunder's Mouth Press, [2000]

©2000
Physical Description:
xi, 228 pages ; 23 cm
Language:
English
ISBN:
9781560252627
Format :
Book

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Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Status
Central Library PS3552.U4 Z627 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Non circulating
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Summary

Summary

The 20th century's greatest poet was a guy from L.A. called Hank, who talked straight, drank hard, faced truth, and exposed beauty and vulnerability like no other in his place and time. Drinking with Bukowski is a celebration of that utterly original voice featuring contributions from everyone from the women who loved him to the Hollywood cognoscenti who courted him, from writers who admired him and actors who tried to emulate him to the barflies, strippers, gangsters, poets, crazies, and dreamers who knew him: Raymond Carver, Wanda Coleman, Harold Norse, Michael C. Ford, and Paul Vangelisti pay homage and recount the Dionysian days of L.A. poetry; record producer Harvey Robert Kubernik and journalist Barry Miles remember capturing Buk on vinyl for the first time; novelist Steve Abee remembers the early days of L.A.'s underground newspapers - Open City and the L.A. Free Press - Bukowski's early stomping grounds.


Reviews 3

Booklist Review

If this were a set of academic papers, it would be called a Festschrift. But you don't do a Festschrift for Charles Bukowski, roughneck bard of urban America's underbelly, whose poems, stories, and novels have wowed generations of declasselitterateurs. Instead, you gather stuff by Buk's friends and lovers, whether or not they are writers themselves. You wind up with a ragbag of excerpts from books about the man, short memoirs, interviews, poems that honor Buk's own manner while brilliantly aping it, and glimpses of forthcoming volumes, such as the one by Buk's widow and a roundup of letters between Buk and fellow poet Harold Norse. Because every contributor loved Bukowski, they try to reflect his enormous lumpen appeal. Particularly successful at it are Sean Penn's interview, self-effacingly shorn of the actor's words; Karen Finley's recollection of not having Buk's baby; and Joan Jobe Smith's "5 Poems" about living within driving distance of Buk. But the whole shebang, including the R. Crumb portrait on the cover, is way more entertaining--and far less stuffy--than any Festschrift. --Ray Olson


Publisher's Weekly Review

"Alcohol is probably one of the greatest things to arrive upon the earth alongside of me," Bukowski (1920-1994) once said in an interview. While not everyone would agree, few deny that Bukowski casts a long shadow, and the literary community is still processing the fact of his death. L.A. poet and journalist Weizmann has assembled a collection of reprints and never-before-published pieces in honor of "Buk," the postal worker-turned-"cult celeb" whose writing and personage hold unique appeal for artists and non-literati alike. The 35 different voices including famous folks such as Sean Penn, Karen Finley and Raymond Carver give a remarkably coherent, even, at times, redundant portrait of this abusive, alcoholic, egocentric, gifted and sometimes misunderstood literary bad boy. By turns amusing, tiresome, charming, repellant and moving, the collection seems an appropriate tribute to a writer who provokes similarly equivocal feelings. Bukowski might have appreciated, or at least respected, the frankness of many of the contributors. Included are poems by Bukowski's love interest (and mother of his only daughter) FrancEyE, Todd Moore and Raindog; Gerald Locklin's "How to Get Along with Charles Bukowski"; prose by drinking buddy Neeli Cherkovski and onetime girlfriend Linda King; and interviews by Penn and Jean-Fran‡ois Duval. Most contributions are thankfully brief and, like their subject, direct. And yet, one can't help wondering if the consistently sympathetic evocations of Bukowski as a thorny individual who suffered deeply from childhood rejection by classmates because of his bad skin, while perhaps providing closure for fans and intimates, might clash with his proclivity for vulgarity and disrespect. (Mar. 1) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Library Journal Review

A mixed bag in every way, these recollections of Charles Bukowski ranging from the silly to the sublime include interviews, poems, and reminiscences by a variety of friends and acquaintances. Some pieces, like Gerald Locklin's description of Bukowski's funeral and Raymond Carver's well-known poem on Bukowski, "You Don't Know What Love Is," are reprinted from published collections; others, including A.D. Winan's excerpted memoir, appear here for the first time. While most of the contributors praise Bukowski, a couple are openly hostile. Old girlfriends and ex-wives are represented, but Bukowski's widow and his long-time publisher John Martin are conspicuously absent. This collection paints a fair and accurate portrait of Bukowski, but readers who really want to know the old barfly would do better to pour themselves a glass of wine and open one of his books. Recommended for literature collections with strong holdings on Bukowski. William Gargan, CUNY Brooklyn Coll. Lib. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Excerpts

Excerpts

Excerpt AN EVENING AT BUK'S PLACE (FEBRUARY 17, 1986) Jean-François Duval The meeting took place on a Monday evening. Several weeks earlier, on the other side of the Atlantic, I had received a card from Buk with the simple typewritten message: Interview o.k. Skim over Hades . The card was accompanied by a small funny drawing, as was Buk's custom. On the Sunday evening, I called from my hotel--the post-modern Westin Bonaventure, which Jean Baudrillard describes so well in Amerique --to make sure our meeting was still on for the next day at 2 P.M. Linda, his wife, answered the phone. Hank thought it would be better for me to come at 8 P.M. Okay. The next evening outside the hotel night was already falling--it was in February--and an inactive limousine chauffeur offered me his vehicle, which was as long as three Cadillacs and had the full works--bar, saloon, and TV--for the price of a normal cab. So I arrived in style in San Pedro at the house hidden by greenery where Charles Bukowski and Linda had lived for several years. A path lined with pantagruelian rosebushes with worrying thorns led to the front door that I knocked on. How long did we spend in the candlelit living room? Buk and me on the sofa; Linda, young, slim, and beautiful, sitting on the floor; the coffee table in front of us bearing the red bottle and large glasses. Was it three, four hours? Everything else around was quiet, only the occasional sound of a cat knocking into something. We saw the large trees outside rustle. The evening remains unforgettable. Jean-François Duval: Hey, there is just this tiny candle light on the table.... You prefer the dark? Linda Bukowski: Oh! You don't like it? J.-F. D. Well, I really don't mind. Linda: You see, Hank ordinarily prefers the light out, or less light ... Charles Bukowski: That's just when I'm drinking. J.-F. D: Yesterday, on the phone, you told me you preferred me to come at 8 P.M. rather than at 2 P.M. as we first arranged. Is there any meaning in this? C.B: Oh yes, there is. I'm not at all alive in the daytime. I just walk around like a dead thing. I was always like that. As a child, till the sun went down, I got dark, I didn't lighten up. My mother always used to say: what is it with you ... nothing happens till it gets dark and then you start doing things.... So I relate to night. Night to me is more lively, more romantic, more real than the day. Daytime makes me dizzy. So it's better you come at night. If you were here in the daytime, I would just sit here and say: yeah ... okay.... Maybe I'm doing it now ... ( laughs ) J.-F. D: And no night without wine? You prefer it to beer now? C.B: The blood of the gods. You can drink a lot of it and stay relatively sane. I used to drink an awful lot of beers. But wine is the best for creation. You can write three or four hours ... You drink whisky, there is trouble ... so I don't want to drink any whisky around you. Because then I think I'm tough. Then I got to prove it. J.-F. D: ( laughs ) Do you still have to prove it, sometimes? C.B: ( roars ) Oh, only when necessary. But it was always like that. J.-F. D: ( laughs, a little uneasily ) Huuh! But what do you mean by only when necessary? C.B: When I feel like it, it's necessary. It may not be just ... but it's needed. Hey man, don't take us too seriously, Linda and me. J.-F. D: Is life a fight, from the beginning to the end? C.B: It appears that way. However I think the secret is pace. Fight a little, rest a little. Fight again, rest. Pace is the secret. That means stopping, starting, going at a certain rate ... a rhythm of doing things. J.-F. D: But we do need to fight? C.B: That's what they tell us. They also tell us we need pain. Who are these people who tell us these things? All I want is happiness. I'll take it twenty-four hours a day if I get it. But I can't seem to get it. Any other questions? This is it? J.-F. D: ( laughs ) Of course not, it's just the beginning of it! So you're not happy now? C.B: Oh, I'm just like you. I'm happy some time, other times I'm very depressed. And most of the time I'm just in the middle--a little happy, a little unhappy, a little content ... I'm generally contented. J.-F. D: Did you write today? C.B: No, I was at the track. Race track. I probably would have written tonight. But see, you're here, so ... J.-F. D: Sorry. C.B: ( laughs ) So you spoiled my night. J.-F. D: But did you write last night? C.B: No. Just the night before. J.-F. D: And what are you writing now? C.B: Just poems. I'm on a poem kick, and I hope it will end soon, and I'll get to short stories. But right now, it's all poetry. It just keeps coming out, poetry. I don't know why, and I don't question it, I go with it. So I never plan anything. Whatever comes out comes out. So ... right now, it's all poetry. Perhaps because my next book is going to be all poetry, and I'm giving him--my editor--this so we have a good choice, I hope. J.-F. D: I think you are best known in the U.S. as a poet, whereas in Europe, we don't know much about your poetry. We read mainly your short stories or novels. C.B: Yeah, I think you're right. I don't know why. But here in the United States, poets seem a romantic kind of people. A man as a poet, he is supposed to be more exceptional, have more soul, or something ... I don't agree with this. But they tend, here in America, to make a poet out of a man if they possibly can, because it's more romantic in their eyes for a man to be a poet than a novelist. What the hell is a novelist? He takes two or three years to write something! A poet is always on fire! Shit, he is typing every other night. So if I'm known as a poet, that probably has something to do with a more romantic aspect of looking at a person. That's all I know ... Is it over now? J.-F. D: ( laughs ) No! C.B: No? J.-F. D: Well, that's just the beginning of it, I told you. C.B: All right. J.-F. D: I've plenty of questions as you see. C.B: ( as if apologizing ) Oh, I was just worried: when I run out of wine, I stop talking. You see, we have two bottles ... Linda: No, we have three! C.B: Three? Well, that should do. One for him, two for me, okay. Or two for him, and one for me. J.-F. D: ( laughs ) A drinking contest? You used to do drinking contests, I think. C.B: Yeah, I remember that. ( filling the glasses ) The drinking contests? Yeah, I often won them. J.-F. D: Did you ever lose? C.B: Not that many. But at the time I was very good. I could drink a lot, and I could outdrink about everybody. I think I've always had a taste for it, you know. It's pleasant. It feels good. And during these contests, all the drinks were free, you know. It was very nice. And to get paid for drinking. J.-F. D: Alcohol, wine, are they a kind of veil of illusion you throw upon reality? Or is it a way to see things more clearly? C.B: Well, to me, it gets me out of the normal person that I am. Like I don't have to face this person day after day, year after year ... The guy that brushes his teeth, he goes to the bathroom, he drives on the freeway, he stays sober for ever. He only has one life, you see. Drinking is a form of suicide where you're allowed to return to life and begin all over the next day. It's like killing yourself, and then you're reborn. I guess I've lived about ten or fifteen thousand lives now. But a man who drinks, he can become this other person. He has a whole new life. He is different when he is drinking. I'm not saying that he is better or worse. But he is different. And this gives a man two lives. And that's usually in my other life, my drinking life, that I do my writing. So, since I've been lucky with the writing. I've decided drink is very good for me. Does that answer your question whatever? J.-F. D: So you drink to write? C.B: Yes, it helps my writing. J.-F. D: Preferably wine, as you said. C.B: Wine helps keep things normal. I used to drink beer and scotch together. And write. But you can only write for an hour, or maybe an hour and a half that way. Then, it's too much. But with wine, as I said, you can write three or four hours. J.-F. D: And with beer? C.B: Beer, well ... you have to go to the bathroom every ten minutes. It breaks your concentration. So the wine is the best for creation. The blood of the gods. J.-F. D: Does all that make you feel near to such poets as Verlaine or Rimbaud, all this tradition? Though, I think, you don't seem to like Rimbaud ... C.B: Their lives are sometimes interesting, but their work isn't. I always had problems with the poets. Frankly, they just bore me. They don't do anything for me. And also the prose writers. All my life I've had problems finding something to read. And I guess this is why I write the way I do. In a fashion that I think can be read by somebody else. It's very difficult for me to enjoy a book. Like War and Peace ... Tolstoy, Shakespeare ... I can see why the children in literature class are as bored. The stuff is bad. J.-F. D: ( laughs ) Diogenes was looking for a man. So, you're looking for a book? C.B: Oh, I see. He didn't find his man, did he? I haven't found my book ... Oh, there are maybe six or eight books I've enjoyed. But nothing that makes me say: this is so exceptional. So I'm just not built to read literature. I'm not made right to appreciate literature. What I enjoy reading, I think, are the daily newspapers. I can start at the beginning, and find little things here and there. It's much more interesting than a great novel, the daily newspaper. And sometimes, you know, I get a short story out of it, a short story idea of something I read in there, what people do ... And what does a newspaper cost? Twenty-five cents ... A book costs money. J.-F. D: And which are those six or eight books you like? C.B: Well, I have to think about that ... Dostoyevsky. All of him. All his books. And there is Celine's one book. I never get the title ... Journey to the End of Night? Journey to the End of Time ... or of Night ? I never get it right! okay. Anyway I really enjoyed that. When I went to bed, I read it cover to cover. Shaking with laughter in bed. It was so good, it made me laugh aloud. Strange what it did. And I said: Here is a man that can write better than I can. There was no jealousy. I loved the fact, that somebody could write better than I could ... Then, let me think ... J.-F. D: But Celine wrote out of hate, of a horrible hate ... Is this also the case with you? C.B: No, I don't write out of hatred. If I write from anything, it's from two things: one is disgust, and the other is joy. If we have to name something. It's very difficult to name what makes you write. Then I would say those two things. Disgust and joy. I don't have them at the same time. But that's my rocket field. J.-F. D: Where does your disgust come from? And your joy? C.B: You see, if I analyze that, it might go away. If I found out where joy came from, maybe I would never have joy again. I don't play with things like that. I let them be. That's for the philosophers to play with. Whoever wants to. J.-F. D: And style? What is style to you? C.B: Style is just doing the best you can under any given conditions. That's all it is. And when people don't do the best they can, under any given conditions, they don't have style. J.-F. D: I meant style in writing. C.B: Oh, I thought you meant in living. J.-F. D: Maybe it's the same. C.B: Well, again, writing ... I can't tell you about my own writing. Because that's a gangue, you break the egg to see what's inside, you don't get the chicken. So that question I don't quite understand it--what is style in writing. J.-F. D: But the fact that you never found the book you wanted in libraries, is it not a question of style? Was it not the style that disappointed you in all those books? C.B: Oh, yes. They took too long to say too little. And they said it in an uninteresting fashion. They wasted a lot of pages. That's all. It's disappointing. J.-F. D: But who are "they"? C.B: Name anybody! J.-F. D: Norman Mailer ... Shakespeare! C.B: Shakespeare! You can put him at the bottom of the list. Linda: Oh! J.-F. D: But wasn't he good in his time? C.B: Yeah, I realize there is a change of language that make it difficult. But even with the language changes! He says things now and then. I can take a sentence or two, you know, a phrase that's very nice. But it's tied in with kings and ghosts and all that crap, you know ... It's too fucking fancy for me. Even though at times you get awful good shots here and there, it's not worth it to me. I'd rather read the newspaper. J.-F. D: You prefer what your friend Becker wrote, which you tell about in South of No North and Ham on Rye ... C.B: It wasn't his real name. J.-F. D: He was just an unknown guy, whose talent was promising. You say, it was full of emotion and at the same time very contained. But he could have become a great writer ... C.B: I think in the book, I have him sitting in a bar and he is going to the war, and he says: suppose some stupid son of a bitch points a machine gun at me, and squeezes the trigger ... That's what happened. He caught I don't know how many bullets, and he didn't make it. Who knows if he would have been a good writer or a bad writer ... but he was good at the time. J.-F. D: But what did you like about his writing? His ability to express emotions? C.B: Yeah, he was a good writer, but he was careful. Too careful. He didn't gamble enough with his words. And if you don't gamble, you're not gonna go anywhere. J.-F. D: Do you think that in their life also people are in general too careful? That they live too restrained a life? C.B: Well, in our society, they are almost given no choice. Either do your eight hours job, or yzou starve to death. So the restraint is laid upon them by society and their fear keeps them that way. How many can break out of that? What can they do? Some people can't paint, some people can't put on boxing gloves, I mean you have to have some exceptional thing to get you out of this eight hours day, and the restraint is their choice: should I die in the street, or should I go to my job everyday, which I hate? It's not so much restraint. There is no choice for them. J.-F. D: Did you feel that you had choice, yourself? C.B: No, I always figured that I would be at the eight hours job for ever, and the only thing I could figure out was: the only way to save a little of yourself there, was to keep changing jobs all the time, no matter how bad the jobs were. And to travel, from city to city. At least you get some variety. It's not the same place everyday back and forth. So that's all I could see, my only way out was to change jobs, work as little as possible, and change cities, which I did for many many years. Then I got lucky, and now I just sit by the typewriter, I go to the race track, I give interviews ... J.-F. D: You felt rejected from society from the beginning. You mentioned your father just before. You dedicate Ham On Rye "to all the fathers," adding later on in the book that "fathers aren't much" That's hard. C.B: Yeah. I'm hoping all the fathers read that. So maybe they will be better fathers to their sons. The fathers aren't much, so when I say "to all the fathers," it's kind of like a joke. Care of you, to all of you, who act this way ... I didn't feel rejected. I just felt as if I were in the wrong place, being a child with those parents. Like when I went to sleep at night ... I'm sure many children have this feeling. You lay in bed in the dark and you say: those aren't my parents in the other room, that's somebody else. That's the feeling you get. It's more lost, confusion, because you really don't want them, because they don't act right, you understand. You can't be rejected by somebody you don't care too much for. So, it's more confusion of being where you don't feel like you should be. And then you go to school: it's the same thing. The teachers are just like your parents. And then you get a job, and your boss is like your parents. And you get married and ha, ha, ha ... No, no, that's a joke. ( To Linda ) We make little jokes, don't we? Linda: Mmm. C.B: All right. J.-F. D: You felt as if you had been adopted by your parents? C.B: Yeah. I've read many other children have that feeling. That's a normal feeling. You probably had that, right? You just say, my parents wouldn't treat me like that. J.-F. D: At that time, the air seemed to you completely white ... C.B: Milk white. You got it, the air was always white. It was not right. Everything was wrong: the air, the people and there was no smog either. J.-F. D: You felt a kind of cruelty, especially from the other children at school. C.B: Children certainly tend to get together and gang up on anybody who is a little bit different. Adults do too. But children are very good at it. And I was one of the victims of the schoolyard gang. When I was small, I was what they call the "sissy." Because my father never let me go outside to play with the other children. So I didn't know how to catch a ball, swing a baseball bat. I didn't get in the games. So suddenly I am at school! I'm put in a game, somebody throws a ball at me, and I didn't know, I couldn't care, I dropped it, 'cause I had no practice ( with a childlike mocking voice ) "Hou! Henry can't catch a ball! Hou! Henry can't catch ..." They had been practicing for, you know, all their life. So this was my father ... ( with the voice of his father, trying to make him feel ashamed ): Henry, you can't play with those children. See, all this helped make a writer out of me, my father was a good man ... Anyhow, in school, this continued, but I did get some practice, you see, finally, and gradually, from being the sissy, I turned it all around, and I became the leader, the tough guy. They came to me. Well, this took six, eight, ten years ... Till I was going to high school, or junior high ... They started following me around, kind of a leader, in high school, and then in college, I was the guy, in class and out of class. So from being the sissy, I turned all around into, I don't mean the leader, but the mean and the vicious. And now I don't know even what I am ... That's all. J.-F. D: Was it so important to become the tough guy? C.B: Well, it's wearing to be picked on, it is not nice to be followed home by eight or ten people threatening to beat you up. And for your own survival, you must do something about this or you keep taking the beating. So I started beating people up. And I found it wasn't bad. Better to beat than to be beaten. It feels better. J.-F. D: It all happened in the school yard? C.B: Not too often. Because they knew that I wasn't a true sissy. They knew there was something very dangerous about me. They used to follow two of us home, me and my friend Wencho. And they'd circle us, and they'd finally close in on Wencho, and start beating him on the ground, hitting him. And they would circle me, and I would just wait ... but they never closed in on me. They felt there was something dangerous there. And I felt it too. I said if they come in on me, I'm gonna do something ... ( To Linda ) You're taking notes now? Linda: ( laughs ) That might help. J.-F. D: You say somewhere that you felt the other children always knew something you didn't know. C.B: I said that? No, no, I always had the opposite feeling ... Oh, you mean when I was very very young? ... The school yards are very confusing ... The most terrible places ... They always knew what to do. They played little balls, ran around in circle. And I would stay watching them and saying: what are they doing? why do they do that? why do they run in a circle like that, back and turn this way? But in another sense I said: this is stupid. I said: they know something, at the same time they don't know. J.-F. D: How did you feel about girls, at school? C.B: Well, I feel about girls now just like I did then. That the calling part on the part of the male induces a lot of bullshit and falseness. That I had better not go through. Like dating and talking and making all the jeers and going through all these movements, making little jokes and cleaning yourself, studying in front of the mirror, all this bullshit, I didn't want to bother with that. I think that's why I went directly to the whore. I said, hey, have a drink, you know, and that was it. We just dispense with one other. Courtship? Nonsense! Because there is a lot of lying in that. A lot of untruth. A lot of game playing, what I don't come to do. J.-F. D: People who don't suffer lack something? All that suffering helped you create? C.B: I guess it did. But ... you know, that's an old theory, an old formula, that you have to suffer in order to write. It might be true ... but I dislike it. I'd rather be happy, and never write. Writing is not that important. It is to me now, because they have me all fucked up, and I have to do it. J.-F. D: Who? C.B: You, them ( laughs ) ... You know, a long time ago, I used to fight against happiness, I'd say: anybody who is happy, there is something wrong with him, they are not thinking right ... I don't do that anymore, and I say: I can be happy, and I'll take it, and if it's unsophisticated, I'll be unsophisticated. And I'll take all the happiness I can get. So you see, I have changed in a certain way ... and I've often written what I think is my best stuff when I'm feeling very good. So no, I don't entirely agree with that theory. I think happiness can create great works of art. You take Bach's music, he is very joyful. He believed in God. I don't. But believing in God made him very elated. His music doesn't come from pain. And Haydn, his music is very joyful. Great poetry comes from happiness, from unhappiness, from disgust, joy, boredom, it comes from everywhere. So I guess that's an old formula. Everything creates poetry. And very little poetry is created. Does that answer some of it? J.-F. D: But each time you are celebrated, invited to give some lecture, you destroy the party--as if you didn't want people to love you ... C.B: I gave readings for money. To get the rent. To eat. For a drink. But I didn't like the people at my readings. And I didn't like to read. I don't think writing has anything to do with getting up and reading your writings in front of a crowd. I think that's a form of vanity. That's acting. Nothing to do with creation. So I only read because I needed the money. And I disliked it, and I disliked the crowd, and I disliked the whole thing. So all I did was get drunk, read my poems and insult the audience, collect my money and leave. Because it was just another job. J.-F. D: There is also this moment of grace in your childhood when you discover you can write. You had to write for the school something on the arrival of president Hoover in your town. And you had great success. It was read in front of the class. And you had great success--for the first time in your life. C.B: Yes, this was the best piece. And I wasn't even there! She read it to everybody, and I sat and I said: say, that's pretty good ( laughs ) ... Pretty good bullshit! I described everything, I wasn't even there: Secret Service men, and the crowd ... I wasn't even there ... So, everybody started looking at me, even the little girls ( imitating their little voices ): "Henry? Really?" That was so strange. That was probably the first indication that I was a writer. And another one was when I was in college. We had a class we were suppose to submit one article every two weeks, or as many as we wanted to do. So the teacher, at mid-term, she read, now these articles, Smith's: one, Daily: two, Mac Alvy: four, that's good, Bukowski: seventy two! The class went: OOOOH! And she said: and they are all good! So that gave me a strange feeling, you know, like you're loaded with something, loaded with something strange. So then I went out, and I was a laborer for forty, fifty years ... ( laughs ) after that. So you can't tell ... J.-F. D: About that piece on Hoover's coming, you said: I had success, and I was celebrated, and I was recognized, but I lied ... Did you lie, or was it a first step into fiction? C.B: That was one of the few times that I lied, maybe the first time. In a sense, that could have been my way of writing fiction, of being a fiction writer. But I did lie. I wasn't there and I said I was there. You've got me. I have sinned ... Good wine. J.-F. D: Excellent. Where does it come from? Linda: It's domestic. In northern California, there is very good wine. C.B: Hey baby, so do you do this very often, interviews? J.-F. D: Well, from time to time. C.B: You know, the strangest thing I find about meeting famous people--I met quite a few--I find that they are not very much. So, I hope you have some luck ( laughs ). J.-F. D: ( laughs ) I'm sure. Though you write in a very crude way, there is much poetry emanating from this crudity, and despair ... C.B: I prefer the term simple. I always try to write clearly, so people know what I am saying. And so that I know what I'm saying. So I try not to use large words. I try to use the easiest, smallest word possible to say anything. I don't use the dictionary, and I like it raw, easy and simple. That way, I don't lie to myself. Because what I've read, first, the classical literature is not raw, easy, and simple. It's confusing, contrived, cloudy, and devious. I want to get rid of these things. J.-F. D: But why do we need simplicity so badly, just now? C.B: Well, I need it anyhow. Maybe as we get closer to the end, we bullshit less. This could be our last night together as we are talking here now, you're aware of that? J.-F. D: Well ... I don't ... C.B: You think we're gonna make it then, for five or six hundred years? J.-F. D: ( laughs ) I don't know. But this is surely not our last night ... C.B: But it is not a good time to bullshit, with the bomb hanging over your head, right? It's time to start saying things. So I try to keep it simple and clear. That's all I can do. J.-F. D: You respond to the violence and decaying of society with the violence of your writing ... C.B: I only photograph society. If it's decaying, if it's violent, then my writing will be decaying and violent. I don't want it to be that way. But if it is, there is nothing else I can call it. J.-F. D: Where is hope? And hope in your work? C.B: The hope is a touch of graceful humor, no matter what's occuring. The ability to laugh, the ability to see the ridiculous, the ability not to tense up too much, when things become impossible, just to face them anyhow. A touch of humor. Let's say laughter through the flame. Or, guts. Courage ... Humor, guts, and courage, no matter the odds. We can always face that ... J.-F. D: How did you meet, Linda and you? C.B: Well, I think Linda will tell it better than I could. Linda laughs C.B: I shift the load. Linda: I knew about him before he knew about me. I had read all the books that had been printed, of his. And he would give poetry readings a lot, in those days--this is about twelve years ago. And I would go to the ones that were within a hundred miles or so. And so finally I went to one in Hollywood and--that was during an intermission--he came out to the bar and was sitting at the table, and he was very drunk, and there were about fifteen women around him ... C.B: Oh, it was glorious. (Continues...) Copyright © 2000 Thunder's Mouth Press. All rights reserved.

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