Apropos of his reputation as the underground poet, Charles Bukowski (1920-1994) developed a public persona of poseur, abusive performer, and violent curmudgeon. Bukowski's embrace of this self-aggrandizing image belies his dedication to the trade of writing. The poem was his lifeline to sanity, to immediate reclamation of daily events, and to the transformation of the mundane into the extraordinary. His poems, short stories, and novels, like the man himself, resist easy classification. Brilliantly intuitive in turning autobiographical material into art, Bukowski shares with Ernest Hemingway - whose influence Bukowski acknowledged - the central subject of the male psyche, a preoccupation with death, a heavy reliance on dialogue, and a marvelous linguistic economy. However, Bukowski consistently set himself apart by his use of humor - Hemingway's tragic fatalism recast as absurd black comedy. Bukowski's persistent focus on the working class and those on the fringes of society, his unrepentant use of drink and scatological idiom - these in the context of his assault on academe and shaped by his ribald and insouciant humor - set him apart stylistically, ideologically, and in the critical reception his work has received. In Charles Bukowski, the first comprehensive, full-length study of the author's explosive career, Gay Brewer skillfully assesses the literary significance of Bukowski's astounding body of published work. Brewer deals extensively with Bukowski's themes, shifting styles, influences, and excellence in several areas, and examines by genre - novels, short prose, and poetry - every significant work published by Bukowski in his lifetime. Although he had been publishing poetry regularly in small underground and alternative presses since the 1950s, he remained a relatively obscure author until late in life. His first novel, Post Office, was published in 1971. Brewer incisively discusses the conflict that came with celebrity upon the 1987 release of the autobiographical feature film Barfly, as well as the relationship of creativity to Bukowski's later writings. Brewer shows Bukowski's work continued to evolve as he grew older; the poetry, in particular, strives toward increasing simplicity, directness, and most radically, a rejection of metaphor, while many of his later short stories are remarkable for their control, economy, and subtlety. Brewer's Charles Bukowski successfully bridges the gap between the relative lack of scholarly attention devoted to Bukowski and his enormous worldwide influence and popularity among writers and readers alike.