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Hostage (Live)

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Album Review

"Tonight will be a very dignified reading," intones Charles Bukowski at the outset of this public performance. "I will read dignified poetry in a dignified manner." Of course, this sends the audience into stitches, knowing that Bukowski will soon plunge into his poems, which seem more like anecdotes of gleeful depravity, packed full of prostitutes, horse racing, and displays of drunken candor. One piece finds Bukowski a guest speaker at a pristine private college, feeling under the weather after a night of fierce drinking. ("I think I was in the state of Nebraska or Illinois or Ohio.") In his nausea, he sits mutely before the class of wide-eyed students. When asked questions about his craft, he responds tersely, answering such innocent queries as "What do you think of Norman Mailer?" with "I don't think of Norman Mailer" (or "Who are your three favorite writers?" with "Charles Bukowski, Charles Bukowski, and Charles Bukowski"). While the poet is typically crude throughout the performance — even in his interaction with the audience — a couple of surprising things come to light when one hears Bukowski in a live setting: 1) how sweet and reasonable he can sound, and 2) how dead-on his comic timing is. Hostage is essential listening for anyone interested in the mythic Charles Bukowski. This is a highly entertaining recording.


Born: 1920 in Andernach, Germany

Genre: Fiction & Literature

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s

As a poet, writer, screenwriter, and spoken word performer, Charles Bukowski plumbed such depraved aspects of human nature as wanton drunkenness, sexuality, and brawling. In the meantime, he cultivated a reputation for -- you guessed it -- such depraved behavior as wanton drunkenness, lewdness, and brawling. The result was international fame, recognition, and accolades. Born in Andernach, Germany, in 1920, Bukowski came to the United States at the age of three and was raised in Los Angeles, where...
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Hostage (Live), Charles Bukowski
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