A superbly edited, illustrated anthology of poetry, prose, interviews, and letters from an important American voice ... The writing swerves over winding roads, driven by both Bukowski, and his semi-autobiographical persona, Henry Chinaski, recounting colorful, hilarious, tender and tragic anecdotes ... not every poem is a winner. Bukowski cranked-out a lot of work, and some narratives, like a night of boozing, don’t say much in the morning. This begs the constant question about the relationship between drinking and creativity.
The poems in On Drinking are distinguishable from the prose mostly by virtue of line breaks that are inserted in why-not fashion ... There’s basically no difference between these lines and the prose narrative that precedes them, except that the prose involves an extended brawl while the poem includes Bukowski pulling a knife on some French security guards ... Bukowksi talks about plowing around hammered in a car, yet every episode carefully avoids any sense of the possible horrific consequences for other people and returns us instead to the comfortable presence of that charming rogue, Charles Bukowski. He’s so funny, so honest. You want to hang out with him, maybe have a few cold ones ... What is strangest about On Drinking, though, is its lack of strangeness.
A lovingly curated example that the flame [Debritto] has been keeping for this prolific writer is far from being extinguished ... What works best in these excerpts, which are at times difficult to thematically connect with each other beyond the reflections on drinking, is the lean and economical style ... a brief volume that will take effort to figure out ... may appear to be the core theme of all Bukowski's work, and a great deal of patience to wade between the alcohol-drenched lines will reveal more profound truths ... [Bukowski] might not have a legitimate place in 21st century modern literature, filled as his work is with sexism, racism, homophobia, and unapologetic inebriation -- often with violent consequences -- but his work is still worth exploring for the role it played in its time and the voice it gave the hopelessly romantic, lonely, dispossessed social outcasts.