Charles Bukowski's poetry and fiction often reflected on the dark underbelly of society, where sex, drinking, and violence provoked the author's existential meditations. This poem appeared in the Autumn 1970 issue of Chicago Review; as in another poem Bukowski would publish in the Winter 1972 issue, Camus's death is a particular preoccupation for the poet. Bukowski 's work, though prolific, would not be widely known until the 1980s.
met this guy, somewhere, hell his eyes looked like a madman's or maybe it was only my reflection of... well, forget it, anyway, he said to me, uh uh you read Camus? wellre both in a very womanless bar looking for a piece of ass or some way out of the top of the sky... it wasn't working - there was just the bartender wondering why he'd ever gotten into the business and myself, very discouraged with the fact that I had been translated into 6 or 7 languages and I was known more by more skidrow burns than college profs, and this guy kept going on -
The Stranger, you know, that depicts our modern society - the deadened man - couldn't cry at his mother's funeral, killed an Arab or two without even knowing why -
he kept on and on on and on telling me what a son of a bitch The Stranger was, and I kept thinking, maybe he's right - you know, those speeches before the Academies - you couldn't tell whether Camus was talking and laughing out of the side of his mouth or whether he was insane. …