Author: Charles Bukowski
Publication: Ecco; Reprint edition
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Charles Bukowski is one of America’s best-known contemporary writers of poetry and prose. He was born in Andernach, Germany in 1920, and brought to the United States at the age of three. He was raised in Los Angeles and lived there for fifty years. He published his first story in 1944 when he was twenty-four and began writing poetry at the age of thirty-five.
During his lifetime he published more than forty-five books of poetry and prose, including the novels Post Office (1971), Factotum (1975), Women (1978), Ham on Rye (1982), and Hollywood (1989). Among his posthumous works, there are: What Matters Most Is How Well You Walk Through the Fire (1999), Open All Night: New Poems (2000), Beerspit Night and Cursing: The Correspondence of Charles Bukowski and Sheri Martinelli, 1960-1967 (2001), and Night Torn Mad with Footsteps: New Poems (2001).
All of his books have been translated in over a dozen languages. He died in San Pedro, California, in 1994, at the age of seventy-three, shortly after completing his last novel, Pulp (1994).
Women (1978) is the third novel by Charles Bukowski. Henry Chinaski is his alter ego of him. In contrast to Factotum, Post Office and Ham on Rye, Women captures a different aspect of the writer.
It is not mandatory that the author should keep a message for the reader in his or her writing. Yet when we read a literary piece we get something out of it. The writer consciously or unconsciously keeps a message through the character portrayal or the theme. And what we get we hoard safely in our minds. But I get nothing of this kind from Bukowski’s novel Women.
I always love his poems. They bear certain distinguished traits that differentiate them from others and mark their popularity.
“I could write on top of an iceberg.”
“Women” is a soliloquy of 50 years old man Henry Chinaski who had not been to bed with a woman for four years…no women friends.
He had a six years old daughter born out of wedlock. Though he was married at the age of 35 the marriage lasted for two and one-half years. His wife wrote him Christmas letters even after the divorce for six years. But he never responded.
Then he met Lydia Vance six years ago. He quit his 12 years job and tried to be a writer. He used to drink and write the whole night. On an occasion of poetry recitation, Lydia Vance approached him.
Later she went to him to recite her own poems. They were not at all worthy for the old writer. He did not like the poems but he liked her body and wished to make sex with her. But she dismissed him. Later she proposed to sculpt his head in her room and asked him to join her there. There he met her sister Glendoline, a garrulous woman.
“She could talk. If she was a sphinx she could have talked, if she was a stone she could have talked. I wondered when she’d get tired and leave”
Lydia felt that the man needed some love and care. Her dreams unfurled the message:
“I had a dream about you. I opened your chest like a cabinet, it had doors, and when I opened the doors I saw all kinds of soft things inside.”
“Then I had a dream about this other man. He walked up to me and handed me some pieces of paper. He was a writer. I took the pieces of paper and looked at them. And the pieces of paper had cancer. His writing had cancer. I go by my dreams. You deserve some love.”
Very easy flowing language lucid and simple. The narrative style is also gliding. No superficial language is used. The characters are speaking in colloquial everyday language.
Imbued in raw sensuality:
As I proceed through the novel I feel there is nothing but raw sensuality permeating every page. The old man one after another is indulging in sex. For him, sex is the way to know the women.