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South of No North: Stories of the Buried Life (edition 1988)

by Charles Bukowski

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692713,753 (3.8)1
Member:brianeisley
Title:South of No North: Stories of the Buried Life
Authors:Charles Bukowski
Info:Black Sparrow Press (1988), Paperback
Collections:Your library
Rating:***
Tags:fiction

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South of No North: Stories of the Buried Life by Charles Bukowski

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Synopsis/blurb.....

South of No North contains some of Bukowski's best work. Among the short stories collected in the book are Love for $17.50, about a man named Robert whose infatuation with a mannequin in a junk shop leads him first to buy it, then make love to it, and then eventually fall in love with "her," much to the consternation of his real-life girlfriend; Maja Thurup, about a South American tribesman with an enormous penis who is brought to Los Angeles by the woman anthropologist who has "discovered" him and become his lover; and The Devil is Hot, about an encounter with Old Nick at an amusement pier in Santa Monica, where Scratch himself is caged and on display, fed only peanut butter and dogfood, exploited by a cynical carnie.

The collection also features two of Bukowski's finest and most famous short stories: All the Assholes in the World Plus Mine, an autobiographical rumination on the treatment of his hemorrhoids, and Confessions of a Man Insane Enough to Live With Beasts. (The latter story originally was published as a chapbook of 500 copies by Bensenville Mimeo Press in 1965.)

The short stories collected in the volume are evocative of Bukowski at his best, when he was one of the premier short story writers still at the top of his talent.
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My take.....

A collection of Bukowski short stories enjoyed back in January, though scratching my head now, I can only recall one of them. There's 27 in total!

Flicking back through, we're in usual Bukowski territory.......drink, loneliness, women, sex, more drink, horses, gambling, card games, drinking, sex, Vietnam, bodily functions, overdue rent, Henry Chinaski, boxing, Hemingway and more.

Not what I want to read all the time, but every now and again, its good to reacquaint myself with his work - to read of the ordinary, the mundane, the down-but-not-quite-out types, the unambitious where the primary concern is for the next drink or sexual encounter.

From Guts...

Like anybody can tell you, I am not a very nice man. I don't know the word. I have always admired the villain, the outlaw, the son of a bitch. I don't like the clean-shaven boy with the necktie and the good job. I like desperate men, men with broken teeth and broken minds and broken ways. They interest me. They are full of surprises and explosions. I also like vile women, drunk cursing bitches with loose stockings and sloppy mascara faces. I'm more interested in perverts than saints. I can relax with bums because I am a bum. I don't like laws, morals, religions, rules. I don't like to be shaped by society.

Not my most enjoyable encounter with his work, that would still be Post Office, though it was years ago that I read it, but I'm still glad I read this collection.

Bukowski passed in 1994.

3 from 5

Read in January, 2017
Published - 1975
Page count - 192
Source - purchased copy
Format - trade paperback

http://col2910.blogspot.co.uk/2017/05/charles-bukowski-south-of-no-north-1975.ht... ( )
  col2910 | May 25, 2017 |
A number of good Chinaski stories unfortunately can't save this overall ho-hum collection. Of Charles Bukowski's three chosen modes, verse, novel, and short story, the last of these has proven the weakest. Of course, chances are, if you're reading this book you're a big fan like I am, so you'll probably read it anyway but to me this has been his worst book besides Septuagenarian Stew. ( )
  Salmondaze | Jan 12, 2015 |
Bukowskis simple, elegant, humourous and often brutal portrayal of lifes down and outers.
  nickrenkin | Mar 26, 2012 |
In the stories of South of No North, Charles Bukowski makes drinking, gambling, job-hating, living in fleabag dives, drunken sex, vomiting, agonizing over women, and agonizing over not writing (“hours of sitting in a chair in the middle of a room, run through and stricken”) seem almost romantic.

These are brutally funny stories. Bukowski’s alter ego Henry Chinaski narrates most of them. A magazine editor to Chinaski:
“I want you to interview this bitch who married the cannibal. Make the sex BIG. Mix love with horror, you know?” “I know. I’ve been doing it all my life.”

On his pessimistic view of life:
“I keep remembering the female who screamed at me: ‘You’re so god damned negative! Life can be beautiful!’
I suppose it can, and especially with a little less screaming.”

Speaking of pessimism, Chinaski on tourists in Avalon on Catalina Island: “square white rotting bodies, and striped shorts, eyeless eyes and mouthless mouths, they walked along, very colorful, as if color might wake up death and turn it into life.”

Chinaski is no less hard on himself: “Hospitals and jails and whores: these are the universities of life. I’ve got several degrees.”

These are searing stories that don’t hold back. More Chinaski on life: “We didn’t want much and couldn’t get that.” ( )
  Hagelstein | Oct 3, 2011 |
Taken as a whole I didn't enjoy this collection of shorts as much as Hot Water Music. Maybe I'm remembering HWM wrong but there seemed much more smut and self-aggrandizing in South of No North (the story where Chinaski beats up Hemmingway in a boxing match and scores with Thomas Wolfe's hot girlfriend being the most ludicrous, but funny, example of this).

True, the smut does become less prominent as the collection goes on (no more stories about men having sex with mannequins) and that's when Bukowski's writing starts to shine. All these stories might be about drunk writers and their "whores" but there's real emotion in Bukowski's writing and when he's at his best it can touch a raw nerve. It's just a shame you have to dig deep under all the sex and booze to find something worthwhile. ( )
  DRFP | Jun 8, 2011 |
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