It’s great to see that Los Angeles is finally starting to properly celebrate the life of one of her greatest writers, Charles Bulowski. Presently on exhibit at The Huntington is a show called “Charles Bukowski: Poet on the Edge,” drawn from the archive of his papers donated to the museum by his wife, Linda Lee Bukowski, in 2006. The exhibit is being held in the West Hall of the Library and continues through Feb. 14, 2011.
Among the rare items on view in the exhibition will be first editions of his works, including Ham on Rye (1982), the autobiographical novel about his brutal childhood and young adulthood; Factotum (1975), the fictional account of his succession of low-end jobs; and Barfly (1984), the screenplay he wrote for the 1987 film starring Mickey Rourke and Faye Dunaway. Corrected typescripts of poems and of the novels Pulp (1984) and Hollywood (1989) will also be on view. There will be original drawings by Bukowski, correspondence and fan mail, and large-format printings of his poems produced by the Black Sparrow Press and other fine printing houses. scarce, important “little magazines,” which were the first to publish Bukowski’s works, will include such publications as Wormwood Review, The Outsider, The Limberlost Review, and Runcible Spoon. More famous (or infamous) magazines like Oui and High Times will show a more lucrative aspect of Bukowski’s craft.
In addition, Linda Lee Bukowski is graciously lendng a number of iconic items, including Bukowski’s manual typewriter, an original oil portrait by John Register, and very scarce early books, including Flower, Fist & Bestial Wail (1960) and It Catches My Heart in Its Hand (1963).
Charles Bukowski continues to attract a huge following of readers who feel a deep connection to the writer who spoke for the downtrodden and disaffected. Writing as an outsider, on the periphery of both society and the literary establishment, Bukowski knew that, for him, “the place to find the center is at the edge.”