Title: Run With the Hunted
Author: Charles Bukowski
Page Count/Review Word Count: 497
Well, this is interesting – the first ever review on SocialBookshelves.com that has been assigned three different categories – fiction, non-fiction and poetry. With Bukowski, it almost doesn’t matter – he flows effortlessly between mediums but always retains the same, unique genre. That’s why we love him.
Interestingly enough, this collection of short stories and poems is arranged in chronological order in the order in which they happened in Bukowski’s life, rather than the order in which it was published. This makes the whole work flow equally and almost feel like a new novel, despite the fact that much of it has been seen before.
Interestingly, the first edition of this book was published in 1993, the year before Bukowski’s death – it’s like an eerie precursor to his oncoming demise, and as such it acts in many ways as the ultimate memoir. Of course, that doesn’t necessarily make it the most obvious choice for new readers to begin with – it was edited together by John Martin, the lifelong friend and editor of Bukowski, but the author himself didn’t have a huge amount of input (as far as I’m aware).
Still, there are some gems in here – I’m more of a fan of the poetry than the prose, but both are enjoyable and reading the two of them transposed together makes for an interesting, new experience. Expect to see the usual mixture of horses, women, bars and booze, and Hank Chinaski is back in all his majesty.
Perhaps most interesting is the chance to observe the author’s troubled relationship with his father – even the way that he describes his father eating food is repulsive in some subtle way: ‘when my father ate his lips became greasy with food’. Other pearls of insight include, ‘No wonder Hemingway was a drunk, Spain be damned, I can’t stand it either.’
To be honest, I can just let the poetry do the talking: ‘I was a bum in San Francisco but once managed to go to a symphony concert along with the well-dressed people and the music was good but something about the audience was not, and something about the orchestra and the conductor was not, although the building was fine and the acoustics perfect I preferred to listen to the music alone on my radio and afterwards I did go back to my room and I turned on the radio but then there was a pounding on the wall: “SHUT THAT GOD-DAMNED THING OFF!”‘
That’s one of the interesting things about Bukowski’s poetry – that was poetry, but I presented it as prose for the sake of formatting. You often can’t tell the difference, his prose can be just as abstract and it always offers a glance in to the world that the poet existed in. This’ll take a long time to read, but it’ll be enjoyable at every step of the way.