Like many a young Angeleno, I was weaned on Charles Bukowski. At 15 or so, I bought Love Is a Dog from Hell—from Vroman’s. Despite being a collection of poems, it was in the fiction section, inches away from Burroughs. It was supposed to be a Christmas gift, but I ended up keeping it for myself. To this day, I’ve still read more Bukowski than I have of anybody else.
Like just about everyone with a passing knowledge of the parties involved, I was stunned when his papers ended up at The Huntington, donated by his widow, Linda Lee Bukowski, who spent a lot of time there when Hank was at nearby Santa Anita race track. It’s a staggeringly incongruous pairing of artist and archive. Which is not a bad thing at all—just exceedingly strange: the most ornery, down-and-out writer of his generation, housed in one of the most staid cultural institutions in greater Los Angeles.
In addition to his papers, which The Huntington has had for four years, the exhibit contains his wine glasses, typewriter, pens, boom box, photographs, and other memorabilia—all on loan from his widow. For two more weeks, before his stuff goes home and the papers go back into their climate-controlled mausoleum. Take a look while you can.
Charles Bukowski: Poet on the Edge
Through February 14
The Huntington Library
1151 Oxford Rd., San Marino
$15 – $20; Huntington.org; 626.405.2100