Given the autobiographical nature of his own writings, one would think reading a biography of Charles Bukowski would be somewhat redundant. And Charles Bukowski: Locked in the Arms of a Crazy Life, by Howard Sounes, is wonderfully redundant. In this basic retelling of the author‘s libacious life, the usual suspects generously contribute accounts of their relationships with him. Bukowski’s many lovers finally get their revenge — to our voyeuristic benefit — telling their side of his many stories for the first time. Bukowski boasted of his sexual prowess, but one woman takes credit for teaching him the skills of a good lover — muff-diving. All of Bukowski‘s famous pickup lines are here, including this one: ”Does this face bother you?“ When the woman responded, predictably, by saying, ”It’s what‘s on the inside that counts,“ he replied, ”Good, then let’s fuck.“
A fine storyteller, descriptive and visual, Sounes sticks with the stuff that made Bukowski a legend. Consequently, this reader at least laughed out loud and smiled real big throughout the book. Sounes also shows compassion and respect when detailing his subject‘s pathetic side — the excessive drinking, the lying, the cheating — and it’s contagious. By the time you‘ve finished Locked in the Arms of a Crazy Life, you know Bukowski was locked in the arms of a true artist’s life.