he talked about Steinbeck and Thomas Wolfe and he
wrote like a cross between the two of them
and I lived in a hotel on Figueroa Street
close to the bars
and he lived further uptown in a small room
and we both wanted to be writers
and we’d meet at the public library, sit on the stone
benches and talk about that.
he showed me his short stories and he wrote well, he
wrote better than I did, there was a calm and a
strength in his work that mine did not have.
my stories were jagged, harsh, with self-inflicted wounds.
showed him all my work but he was more impressed with
my drinking prowess and my worldly attitude
after talking a bit we would go to Clifton’s Cafeteria
for our only meal of the day
for less than a dollar in 1941)
we were in great health.
we lost jobs, found jobs, lost jobs.
mostly we didn’t work, we always envisioned we soon
would be receiving regular checks from
The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly and
we ran with a gang of young men who didn’t envision
anything at all
but they had a gallant lawless charm
and we drank with them and fought with them and
had a hell of a wild good time.
then just like that he joined the Marine Corps.
want to prove something to myself” was what he told
he did: right after boot camp the war came and in 3 months
he was dead.
and I promised myself that some day I would write a novel and that
would dedicate it to him.
have now written 5 novels, all dedicated to others.
you know, you were right, Robert Baun, when you once told
me, “Bukowski, about half of what you say is
Other works by Charles Bukowski...