Charles Bukowski

Charles Bukowski (August 16, 1920 – March 9, 1994), American poet and novelist, was born in Andernach, Germany and moved to Los Angeles, California three years later. He lived there much of his life.

He acknowledged Anton Chekhov, Ernest Hemingway, John Fante, Louis-Ferdinand Céline and others as influences on his writing, and was also knowledgeable about classical music. He was extremely prolific, publishing over 40 books of poetry and prose between 1960 and the early 1990s.

One critic described Bukowski’s fiction as a “detailed depiction of a certain taboo male fantasy: the uninhibited bachelor, slobby, anti-social, and utterly free.”

Bukowski spent much of his life among the denizens of Hollywood’s underbelly, and he was a long-term functional alcoholic. One of his poems describes his enjoyment of having a medical checkup at which he found that his drinking had had no perceptible effect on his health.

The film Barfly, starring Mickey Rourke, was based on his life, the main character being his alter-ego, Henry Chinaski. His novel Hollywood was based on the tribulations of making this film.

A documentary called Bukowski: Born Into This was released in American theaters on July 9, 2004, generally to good reviews. Actor Sean Penn and singer Bono, friends and fans of Bukowski, appear in the film.

An adaptation of Bukowski’s second novel, Factotum, will be filmed starting in April 2004 in Minnesota.