Friday, May 05, 2006
Run With the Hunted
I just finished Charles Bukowski's Run With the Hunted. It's a great anthology of this cultural icon's work that spans his entire career. Not all of Bukowski's work is deserving of the praise this pulp poet receives; in fact, some of his poetry reads like autobiographical grocery lists. But despite the underground status he has, Bukowski will probably never receive anything other than curious mention by the mainstream poetry critics. A really good article on Bukowski appeared in the New Yorker last year.
But after reading this thick retrospective, it makes me think of all the unlikable characters that crime writers need to create. I have to teach a seminar this July and I've chosen the subject of anti-heroes in noir fiction. Now this is a program where the majority of people are literary snobs and with a topic so generalized, I'm not expected too many people to show up. However, for the three people who will mistakenly walk into my lecture, I want to do a good job. I knew I needed to review some writing that would examine the less desirable characters in literature. When you read Bukowski you have to wonder why this material is so fascinating. Writing class after writing class they tell you that you need likable characters. That's bullshit. If you want likable, go watch Pollyanna; but for noir literature, you're going to read about some real creeps. It's the nature of the genre.