Notes of a Dirty Old Man – Charles Bukowski (1969)

Notes of a Dirty Old Man (1969) is a collection of underground newspaper columns written by Charles Bukowski for the Open City newspaper that were collated and published by Essex House in 1969. His short articles were marked by his trademark crude humor, as well as his attempts to present a “truthful” or objective viewpoint of various events in his life and his own subjective responses to those events. The series is currently published by City Lights Publishing Company but can also be found in Portions from a Wine-Stained Notebook, which is a collection of all of Bukowski’s wide ranging works. Bukowski uses his own life as the basis for his series of articles, and characteristically leaves nothing out. The different stories range from hooking up with the wife of a stranger who invites him over for dinner and to admire his work, to Bukowski’s versions of ‘debates’ with other writers at ‘Open City’. Bukowski goes through life and each event without caring about the consequences of his actions. He is almost always alone aside from the occasional prostitute that he invites over. A few times, generous people who admire his writings will allow him to stay with them rent free, though he does not understand why people enjoy his writings so much. As soon as he starts to get too close to these families or hosts he will leave without notice and go on to find a new place to stay. However, he does mention that he does not want readers to feel sorry for him, which is why he includes crude comedy along with each story. He always has some type of alcohol with him that allows him to be as carefree as he is. Whether he is drinking while writing his stories and poetry, or showing up to work and meetings already drunk, every story incorporates his vigorous drinking habits. Along with the series Notes of a Dirty Old Man, Portions From a Wine-Stained Notebook includes another deep look into Charles Bukowski’s life. It is a lengthened version of Notes of a Dirty Old Man that is more of an autobiography about him becoming a writer than a short story…. Alcoholism is very prevalent in both of Bukowski’s Dirty Old Man pieces. He displays many of the outcomes that most people with alcoholism show as well: self-control problems, difficulty in identifying feelings, apathy toward external reality, difficulty in emotional processing, and more depressed and/or anxious, and a face deformed by its abuses. However, his alcoholism is not an issue that Bukowski wishes to change; it is simply a way of life for him. …”
Charles Bukowski’s Rules for Writing

About 1960s: Days of Rage

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