Can one outgrow Charles Bukowski (but not Miller?) Henry Rollins muses – and you decide.

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And here’s the other thing about Rollins. Not only is a literature buff, he walks the walk; in the 80s he established his own publishing company, 2.13.61, named after his birthdate. He did it in order to publish his own books, but at first they also published original and licensed titles by others, including Hubert Selby, Jr., Michael Gira, Nick Cave, and – you guessed it – Henry Miller.

But man, he really is a literature buff. Check out this great interview published in BookSlut.

Among other things, he talks about how certain books no longer have a hold on you once you reach a certain age. One example is Charles Bukowski.

That's Range of Light Wilderness

It’s a rite of passage for every 17-year old dude to curl up with a Bukowski novel for a weekend (I used to call them “Bukowski Weekends,” as in, “Hey man, thanks for the invite, but I’m gonna pass on the party at Nicole Scaglione’s place. I’m having a ‘Bukowski Weekend.”)

Here’s what Henry has to say about it:

I left Bukowski behind and would see people my age or older [reading him], and think, “Like, really?” You’ve got to get better stuff. It’s good for a while. It’s like sniffing glue to get high: it’s cool when you’re thirteen but then you should get on to better stuff, otherwise you’re going to stagnate.

(Reading Bukowski is) fine when you’re twenty-something. I’m just saying that at least for me, there are times in life when some books are relevant for some reason. Some authors I can go back and read, like I have [Henry Miller's] Black Spring in my bedroom. I will open it up now and then and just hang out with Black Spring for twenty minutes. Any chunk will do. It still works.

Rollins has a point, but, of course it’s always nice – it’s mandatory, in fact – to read an old classic every 10 years or so. Look at things through a older, more world-weary eyes. Even if it means those classics from your youth – “On the Road,” “Huck Finn,” and yes, even Charles Bukowski, right?

I hereby challenge Rollins to a fight!*

* jk y’all

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  • http://twitter.com/Houyqueen Lucy Saw

    To say you outgrow an authors work  or it has become irrelevant to you only means you’ve already  found a way to incorporated its truth. Its not the work that has become irrelevant nor is it the works truth that has become irrelevant, in time that truth becomes even more clear, more true than you ever imagined upon its first reading. I prefer Miller to Bukowski but that’s just a preference, it has no bearing on the energetic dirty reality Bukowski brought to the page. Miller can fill a wider gap simply because his writing is broader, Bukowski specialized on a specific lifestyle and a very specified pain. If I went down to whatever is considered the bowery and handed out the works of both authors I’m convinced the denizens would smile and gently return Miller to the bookshelf  with reverence and then hide Bukowski under whatever rags they use for pillows. 

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