Title: Septuagenarian Stew
Author: Charles Bukowski
Page Count/Review Word Count: 384
This book is a collection of Charles Bukowski’s collected stories and poems, and I’m assuming from both the title and the contents of the collection that it brings together the work that he wrote in his seventies. Because of that, much of the work is ruminative, looking back on his earlier life and at the way that the world has changed since he was a youngster.
Most authors struggle to pull off collecting both poetry and prose together in a single volume because the inherent differences between the two can make it start to feel disjointed. That doesn’t happen here, though – both the poems and the stories are like little snapshots into the author’s mind, and they slowly build up and come together to give you an overall picture of the author’s life.
Bukowski was always good at writing about his own life, and he’s potentially at his best right here. Like a fine wine, he seemed to get better with age, which could well be because he came to writing a little later in his life than most. He also has a flair for using simple language that the reader can easily relate to – his poetry and his stories are easy to read because of their simplicity, and I’ve always been an admirer of that. Less is more.
As for whether I’d recommend this book ahead of any of his others…well, that’s hard to say, because each of his collections are unique. Really, you ought to collect as many of Bukowski’s books as possible, because they’re all great reads. Even though they can look intimidating if you judge them upon their thickness, they’re actually pretty quick books that you can whizz through in a couple of days, and this one is no different.
In fact, one of the best things about this book is its aesthetics. It’s printed on good quality paper and feels like a proper artifact. It’s a great little addition to your collection whether this is your first time reading him or whether you’ve been a long-term fan, and I’d definitely recommend it. It might not be his best perhaps, but it’s definitely up there. All of his books are good.