A Dirty Old Man

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The poet and self-described dirty old man Charles Bukowski died twenty years ago. He passed after a battle with leukaemia in which he finished his novel Pulp (1993). He gave up the ghost with a sigh of relief. He was the American equivalent of Céline. He lived his work. It was the end of the Beatniks and the Hippies when Bukowski burst onto the scene, having been crowned King of the Little Magazines, and churned an incredible bulk of poems and short stories from the 1940s onwards. It was a hard struggle, writing from the gutter, mainly for others who found themselves there … Continue reading

‘This book is dedicated to mankind’

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There are some novelists who can’t be avoided in the charged instability of their prose. We find this in the literature of extremes, and one such recent case is Michel Houellebecq. In Atomised (1998) Houellebecq portrays a vision of late capitalist society as in the thrall of its own decay. The chaos of the market society and its depredations has blown away the traditional order of morality. Sexual liberalism has prevailed to the extent that the very act has become a commodity in a marketplace, but this has left winners and losers. Elsewhere Houellebecq calls for a ‘sexual communism’ and … Continue reading