Title: The Roominghouse Madrigals
Author: Charles Bukowski
Page Count/Review Word Count: 264
This collection brings together Bukowski’s earliest selected poems from 1946–1966, which is interesting in itself because according to his author bio, he didn’t even start writing poetry until 1955. You can tell that they’re his early poems, too. He’s still finding his voice as a writer, and it’s his voice which made his work so distinct. Because of that, while this is a reasonable enough collection of poetry, it’s nowhere near Bukowski’s best. I don’t think I’d recommend it unless you’re already familiar with his later work and you want to see how it all started out.
Don’t get me wrong, there are certainly some standout poems here that really stuck in my mind, and I had no problem finding enough that I enjoy to fill a YouTube video. But while you could feel that Bukowski was in there somewhere, you could also feel that he was trying to distill other people’s influences into what he was writing instead of going balls-to-the-wall and writing from his heart, instead of his head.
On the plus side, you do get plenty of his usual topics (women, races, alcohol), and you get to see them through a younger set of eyes. It’s interesting to see that he was just as obsessed with death in his younger years as he was when he reached his seventies, and that gives me some hope for myself. So I’m glad that I read this, I just wouldn’t recommend it to a newbie.