::Literate Blather::
Friday, November 16, 2007
5 Questions About: Charles Bukowski

An Interview With Linda King

(When DaRK PaRTY is drunk, we like indulging in Charles Bukowski poetry. Bukowski, of course, is the Literary King of Skidrow and the author of several novels and volumes of poetry. This is our second “5 Questions About” feature on him. We recently became cyber-acquainted with Linda King, who had an on-again/off-again relationship with Buk. In Buk’s novel “Women,” Linda is the girlfriend who tries to run him over with a car. “Stormy” is one way to describe their relationship. She has spent the last few years writing a memoir of her time with Buk called “Loving and Hating Charles B
ukowski.” She recently agreed to answer a few of our questions.)

DaRK PaRTY: What were your first impressions of Bukowski?

Linda: I met Bukowski at the end of 1969 and did a portrait sculpture of him during the first couple of months of 1970. We were a fighting couple for the next five years. We lived together for about eight months in 1972, I think it was. He moved out at my request after I caught him seeing other women.

We split that summer and when I got back to my house he asked me if I still wanted him to move and I said, “Yes.” We went on seeing each other for another couple of years until I moved to Phoenix in 1975.

DP: Time magazine once referred to Bukowski as “the laureate of American lowlife.” He seemed to cultivate a reputation as a hard drinking tough guy. Is he misunderstood? How would your describe Bukowski’s personality?

Linda: Bukowski worked hard to get his reputation as king of the lowlife writers. I do think he deserves that title. He might have stole a few stories and made himself the lead man when he wasn't, but still he was able to recognize a good lowlife story and get it told. I do think he lived the life he writes about, in fact, he was living on De Longpre Avenue (East Hollywood) when I met him, which is a good example. In fact, I lived in #3 at De Longpre for a short time when I couldn't find a place to rent with my two kids and dog. If you know the McArthur Park area, apartments are even more run down and lowlife where he used to live.

DP: The cult of literary celebrity keeps increasing around Bukowski. He's hotter than ever with bands like Pearl Jam singing about him and Hollywood making his novels into movies. Why do you think his work remains so popular -- especially among artists?

Linda: His work remains popular because there is no one like him. He's a great writer who is not only interesting and funny, he writing flows and is so simple that anyone can understand it. He tells about
life like it is with no frills or untruth and people who read his work recognize this as being very powerful.

I think they are thankful that someone finally said it like it is, rather it's in the work places or anywhere else. He writes about what they have experienced and feel. Even though he kept people way, he shared his life and his thoughts...all the time in his poetry and stories.

DP: What Bukowski novel do you think is his best and why? And what poem do you think best captures his talent?

Linda: I love some of the poetry in “Mockingbird Wish Me Luck,’ which was written when I was with Bukowski, the good times when we were in love. "Have You Ever Kissed a Panther" and "The Shower" to name a couple. I have some private poems that have probably never been read that are wonderful. When he wrote “Women” I thought he was out to trash me, and he did. A lot of the untruth about me in that book is taken for fact. I have always liked his poem "The Shoelace," which I published in “Purr.” He wrote so much it is hard to pick just one out of all of his writing that is the best.

DP: Bukowski died at age 73 in 1994. His gravestone marker says: "Don't Try." What do you think that means?

Linda: I think his grave marker that reads “Don't Try,” means... “I am such a good, tough writer that it is useless for you to try and be better. Just don't try.” He's laughing at anyone who thinks they can be better. And then it might have a touch of “When you write, don’t try, and if you try it will show in the writing, you have to let it flow.” I used to go with him to the fights downtown. He liked a good fight. If anyone writes the "fights" of life better Bukowski, he is going to have to be pretty tough.

Read a poem about Buk by the nephew of Linda King here

Read our 5 Questions About interview with Novelist Kim Harrison here

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