In the new world, there will be no more Henry Chinaskis. It will be impossible. Chinaski, a fictional creation in the image of his maker, Charles “Hank” Bukowski, lived on the sacred grime and grit at the edges of daily life. He wanted the truth, without compromise and without veil. He knew that as a writer, his responsibility was to capture life exactly as he found it: beautiful and hideous, and often both at once.
Sunday is Bukowski’s 100th birthday. Though the writer died in 1994, his sinuous body of work (some 60 books of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction) remains an essential testament to the unsung depths and corners of American life. The passage of time has not diminished the power of his prose; his works have been translated into 12 languages and have inspired five major motion pictures. Bukowski’s singular style and ethos preserve their vitality because unlike other poets, he was not cloistered in an ivory tower, postulating on the abstract nature of the human heart.