THE BELL TOLLS FOR NO ONE by Charles Bukowski

THE BELL TOLLS FOR NO ONE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The uncollected gutbucket ramblings of the grand dirty old man of Los Angeles letters have been gathered in this characteristically filthy, funny compilation.

Bukowski's autobiographical novels (More Notes of a Dirty Old Man, 2011, etc.) often read as a series of strung-together episodes and scatological anecdotes. So the brevity of the pieces collected here, some no more than two or three pages, suit Bukowski well. A majority of the stories appeared as the column “Notes of a Dirty Old Man” in the LA Free Press. Others, which ran in Oui and Hustler, represent perhaps the final gasp of a literary tradition that began in the 1950s and ’60s when the raunchier skin magazines were open to work by established writers. To the uninitiated, Bukowski can seem off-puttingly vulgar. And while you can detect a wounded romantic beneath the Lothario, Bukowski’s alter egos were not gents when it came to women. Best to think of his work as a series of dirty Road Runner cartoons in which Bukowski is the coyote taking one damn kick in the pants—front- and backside—after another. At its worst (the hijack fantasy “Fly the Friendly Skies”), Bukowski’s sensibility is ugly and coarse. But when he is swinging, there is a companionable ease to his blunt, profane vernacular.

Bukowski’s gift was a sense for the raunchy absurdity of life, his writing a grumble that might turn into a belly laugh or a racking cough but that always throbbed with vital energy.

Pub Date: Aug. 15th, 2015
ISBN: 978-0-87286-682-9
Page count: 225pp
Publisher: City Lights
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15th, 2015




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