In Locked in the Arms of a Crazy Life, Howard Sounes chronicles the life and times of writer Charles Bukowski. Bukowski was born in Andernach, Germany in 1920, suffered through the Great Depression as a child, and attracted a cult-like following with his writing from the late 1960s into the 1990s. After reviewing Bukowski’s rough childhood (written by Bukowski himself, in his book Ham on Rye), Sounes is able to give us new insights into the "lean years" that Bukowski lived through during the 1940s and 1950s, when he bounced from city to city as a mostly unemployed drunk. Particular attention is paid to Bukowski’s later years, including his work with Hollywood on the movie "Barfly," as well as his eventual marriage to Linda Lee Beighle. Interspersed among Sounes’ text are snippets of Bukowski's poems and stories. Several never-before seen photos are also incorporated into the two-illustration sections.
Charles "Hank" Bukowski is regarded by many as one of the finest poets of the 20th century. Locked in the Arms of a Crazy Life is an honest portrayal of his life. Several Bukowski biographies have been written, most notably Hank by Neeli Cherkovski. The current body of work has mostly been written by friends of Bukowski. Howard Sounes, however, never met him and as a result, his writing reflects a more objective, impartial view of Bukowski’s life. Sounes goes as far as debunking several myths about this man which have been reported in other works as fact. For the Bukowski fan, this is a must read.
Reviewed by pk, 9/99. Other reviews by pk.