On Silence and Bukowski

Silence speaks to me in the early morning hours.  Little sparks firing like shooting stars beforeSilence and Bukowski eyelids crack open, before I realize a new day has begun.  I wonder what I would say if I could write in my sleep, those fleeting thoughts that slip away before I’m able to reach paper and pen?  The silence speaks to me before the obligations that devour the day begin and drown out the peaceful reverie between my soul and my fingertips.  Oh, how I crave those moments!

I’ve begun rereading my literary heroes and trying to picture them writing.  I wonder if they wrote in the chaos of the moment or soaked up the silence as they unleashed their brilliance.  I wonder if they knew how impactful and meaningful their words would be so long after their deaths.  I don’t buy hard copies of books very often because I prefer to own books which feed my soul, rather than those which just occupy my mind.  I buy hard copies of books that I can’t help but underline particular passages of because I don’t ever want to forget them.  I buy books that I want to read over and over, books I hope my (so far non-existent) children will one day want to read if they want to understand me better.  I buy books that I will keep.  I run my fingers over their covers and feel their pages.  I hold them close to me and carry them around with me.  Seeing their titles on my shelves each time I pass by is how I know I am home.  I cry to them and they understand my pain.  A good book is like a passionate lover, an affair, if you will, that never has to end and nobody’s heart gets broken.  

I am currently rereading Tales of Ordinary Madness by Charles Bukowski; originally published in 1967, the description on the back of the book reads:

With Bukowski, the votes are still coming in.  There seems to be no middle ground – people seem either to love him or hate him.  Tales of his own life and doings are as wild and weird as the very stories he writes.  In a sense, Bukowski is a legend in his time… a madman, a recluse, a lover… tender, vicious… never the same… these are exceptional stories that come pounding out of his violent and depraved life… horrible and holy, you cannot read them and ever come away the same again.

It is a very apt portrayal of how Bukowski was received as a writer in his time and of his writing style in general.  It is also a perfect summarization as to why I adore reading his works, especially the last line, “you cannot read them and ever come away the same again.”  

Bukowski’s writing style has been described as dirty realism and transgressive fiction, both of which come down to a central theme – he wrote about life from the perspective of the underprivileged.  Wikipedia describes dirty realism as, “the belly-side of contemporary life [… written] with a disturbing detachment, at times verging on comedy.  Understated, ironic, sometimes savage.”  Again using Wikipedia’s definition, transgressive fiction is based on “characters who feel confined by norms and expectations of society and [break] free of those confines in unusual or illicit ways.”  The definitions of these genres, which I was not familiar with before reading Bukowski, are quite apropos to Bukowski’s work.  He did not pussyfoot around the difficult topics or shy away from the ugly aspects of American life.  His writing is raw and unfiltered, just as I’d like to imagine he was as a person in real life.  

Tales of Ordinary Madness is a mixture of fiction and nonfiction short stories.  Reading it makes me feel like I am getting a glimpse of the man behind the words, a man whose words have truly impacted my life and the lives of people all over the world.  There are those who will never like, understand, or appreciate Bukowski’s work and that is their right.  I believe it takes courage to write what others find crass and unacceptable, in a style that was mostly unheard of at the time he was writing.  I also believe that kind of courage – writing hard truths and making people uncomfortable through those truths – is what makes a writer brilliant and their words timeless.     

Writers such as Charles Bukowski inspire me to be a better writer.  My literary heroes have instilled a desire within me to put my soul on paper, to bleed out and die on paper if I must so that others may feel what I feel and see what I’ve seen.  I suggest not that I will impact the world with my words as these authors have impacted my life with theirs.  I hope only to strive for such things.  Silence stirs this passion in me, it sets a spark to the match that lights my mind on fire and urges me to reach further.

What sets your soul on fire?

New to Sidereal Catalyst?  Thanks so much for stopping by!  Check out my page A Place To Start and be sure to connect with me on social media 🙂

XO Abbie

18 thoughts on “On Silence and Bukowski

  1. Hello, hello Abbie,

    I adore this post, your voice throughout, and of course, my crush: Bukowski. 🙂

    Thank you for sharing this – Tales is one of the few I’ve not read yet, but now . . . well, I simply must!

    I find him to be the most fascinating creature for exactly what you say so perfectly here: he has courage, he is bold, he dares me to push myself further – to question everything we think of as “safe” or “truth” or “it has to be this way.”

    He’s a rascal and a rebel – a sort of “monster thing” – that somehow softens me, too.

    Thank you for this!

    Much love and light your way,


    P.S. “I buy books that I will keep. I run my fingers over their covers and feel their pages.” . . . like music to my ears . . . I do the very same. It’s a love affair – me and my books. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • A like-minded soul, you are!!! So nice to find a fellow Bukowski lover 🙂 a pleasure to make your acquaintance, Allison! Tales is a wonderful book, you will adore it!!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I LOVE when we Buk fans find each other! 🙂 It’s like a secret underground collection of delicious souls . . . I’ve got Bukowski stacked all over the house, haha. Have you ever seen footage of his poetry readings? He’s incredible with the crowd . . . Nice to meet you, love! (I’m following you on IG as well)

        Liked by 1 person

          • Oh brilliant! If you have Netflix you can check out “Sunlight Here I Am” documentary – oh please tell me if you do, it’s fabulous! 🙂
            And so glad to connect! I loved your flower pics on IG. . . 🙂

            Liked by 1 person

            • THERE’S A DOCUMENTARY ABOUT HIM ON NETFLIX?!?!?!!!!! I now know what I am doing today (Or should I subject my husband to it tonight?!). Eeeeeee!!!!!!!!


  2. Love Bukowski. Books in general, yes. A lack of space keeps me from owning. When I worked at the bookstore, one of the perks was bringing my “work” home with me. So fun.

    Thanks for highlighting Bukowski. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yay for another Bukowski fan! I think I would enjoy working at a bookstore… did you? I’d definitely bring my work home with me and probably not have any paycheck at all!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve never read anything from him before. I know. Crawls back under a rock. I’m looking for new reads and thank you for sharing him – this one will be added.
    You wrote this beautifully. I too wish that I could conjure up all the thoughts that I think during those hours. Sometimes I do think up some very brilliant things 🙂
    My daytime brain – not so much.

    Liked by 1 person

    • No need to crawl under that rock 🙂 One of my inspirations for writing this was that almost none of my friends had even heard of Bukowski, you are in good company! Keep in mind, he’s a bit off the wall!!!


  4. Bukowski sounds like someone I should be more familiar with, to be able to put words with the name. 🙂

    I’ve fallen in with the Kindle App crowd, I’m afraid. While I love paper books, after having moved way too many times in my life, I have come to appreciate being able to carry a library of over a thousand books in one hand. 😉


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