The Pleasures of the Damned – a damnable pleasure.

Charles Bukowski is a writer I love.  His subject matter is drink, bad relationships, dead end jobs, gambling and writing. But despite that or maybe because of it he is incredibly funny. If you can imagine a cross between Jeffrey Bernard and Tom Waits that’s Bukowski. Bukowski wrote poetry : The Pleasures of the Damned is a pleasure and also novels. Post Office and Factotum are my favourites. Recently I have been reading Charles Bukowski: On Writing (Canongate) which contains a series of previously unpublished letters to editors, friends and fellow writers.

So what tips are to be gained from him:

  • If all else fails try and get a job from someone who published you once:

“I received your rejection of ‘Whitman : His poetry and Prose’, along with the informal comments of your manuscript readers.

Sounds like a nice thing.

Should you ever need an extra manuscript reader, please let me know. I can’t find a job anywhere, so I might as well try you too.”

To Hallie Burnett October 1945

  • Be cavalier in your  approach to rejected material:

“I’ll be honest with you. You might as well keep those poems as long as you want to because when you send them back I’ll just throw them away.”

To Judson Crews November 4th 1953

  • IMG_1201

    Charles Bukowski making those toes laugh.

    This on writing technique:

“I like to make the words bite into the paper not so much like Hemingway did but more like scratches in ice and also attended with some small laughter.”

To William Packard March 27 1986

  • Here is a quotation that if you’re a writer cries out to be typed up in capitals and placed somewhere in your eye-line.

“If a man truly desires to write, then he will. Rejection and ridicule will only strengthen him … There is no losing in writing, it will make your toes laugh as you sleep, it will make you stride like a tiger, it will fire the eye and put you face to face with death. You will die a fighter, you will be honoured in hell. The luck of the word. Go with it, send it.”

  • Finally

“Writing is only the result of what we have become day by day over the years. It’s a god damned fingerprint of self and there it is … And when you can’t come up with the next line it doesn’t mean you’re old, it means you’re dead.”

To William Packard March 27 1986

As a writer the idea of my writing being a ‘god damned fingerprint of self’ is slightly worrying  but also has the awful ring of truth to it! Oh well, on to the next line then …

This book and all his other writing comes highly recommended. Have you read Bukowski? What did you think? Whether you have or you haven’t, ‘the luck of the word’ go with you and may your toes be laughing as you sleep.


  1. Blimey, what a lot to take in in just those few passages. I’m with you with that fingerprint thing – so true. Interesting that the main character in the musical ‘Hair’ was also named Bukowski. It’s one of those chewy words that you just have to say out loud. Thanks for directing me to more than the sound of his name!


  2. In Bukowski I see a flawed human being who’s not afraid to show his real self. In fact he demonstrates his life in a terrifyingly honest manner. Loved the post 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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