by edited by David Stephen Calonne. 003. $15.95. 288 pages. Isbn: 0-941543-37-4. Sun Dog Press, 22078-Cumberland Drive, Northville, MI 48167.
Book Review by Michael Basinski
I wondered, as I approached this book, if it would really be worth the while to read nearly 300 pages of interviews. Bukowski himself said he hated to read them. And why read 300 pages of Bukowski being interviewed? What might I find out in Sunlight Here I Am after reading three feet of Bukowski books on the top-shelf, three or four biographies, CDs, coffee table picture book, yadda, yadda yadda, blah blah blah, woof-woof. Dive in! I must admit, the book might not be for the casual fan, certainly Sunlight Here I Am is for the collector, and for the rabid Bukowski reader this one will sit nice on that top-shelf with a lot of the other books the Bukowski industry is inventing. But I have this very strange, other side that likes to poke and pick at the writer’s carcass, the meat of the words upon the bone of the poem or short story. If so inclined, yes, if so inclined this is a gold mine and gold mind. Organized chronological from 1963-1993 there are thirty-four interviews and encounters and a few excerpts from Bukowski’s books. But mostly it is King Charles responding to questions. There is surprisingly little repetition, and I take this to be the result of the very careful editing done by David Stephen Calonne. He did not leave things out ’ like cut this part out of this review or that review and past it together to make some form of narrative collage. Nope. He ordered carefully and with a sensitively that allows Bukowski’s ever changing perspective to dominate the book. Job well done. Calonne has effectively removed his ego from the book. That said, Bukowski spews his philosophy and ideology variously. He is both consistent and questionable. At all times his active mind, his sharp, focused, intellect responds with candor and wit. If a reader hadn’t read the down and out Bukowski saga, it is possible that this imagination and intellect might be that of another writer. For the scholar and the digger and the thinker this book opens many portals for endless further consideration. For the curious and the inquisitive there will be no disappointment. None. None whatsoever. All Berlinski and his Sun Dog Press and David Stephen Calonne have presented this gem of an important document and it is even indexed! Sunlight Here I Am is by far the best supporting book in the Bukowski cannon.