Ben Pleasants | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Charles Bukowski is perhaps better known--and in some circles more revered--for the particulars of his life than for the quality of his writing. The bum, habitual drunk, Hitler admirer, and surprisingly successful consort packed scalding bitterness and jealousy into everything from his first novel, Post Office, to poetry collections like Love Is a Dog From Hell to his romans a clef Hollywood and Women. Ben Pleasants draws on 20 years of friendship with "Hank" in his memoirish Visceral Bukowski: Inside the Sniper Landscape of L.A. Writers. A poet, playwright, and reviewer himself, Pleasants calls Bukowski "maybe the greatest drunken writer who ever lived," and while that's high praise indeed, this isn't total hagiography--he points out plenty of duplicity in Bukowski's work and life. There's plenty of Pleasants here too, much of it self-indulgent ("In March of 1977, after a torrid affair in Grenoble with a beautiful French woman named Annie, I . . ."). Better to skip these bits and focus on his conversations with Bukowski--about writing, "the Female," crappy jobs they've had. Given the time they logged at the racetrack, in bars, or in Bukowski's unkempt apartment, I bet Pleasants has a few good stories that aren't in the book. Maybe he'll tell some of those at this reading. Sat 5/7, 7 PM, Quimby's Bookstore, 1854 W. North, 773-342-0910.

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