Bukowski in a Sundress by Kim Addonizio. Penguin Original| June 21, 2016| 205 pages | $16.00| ISBN: 978-0-14-312846-5
“How to Succeed in the Po Biz,” she writes: “Humans who are writers are a devastation. Writers plunder, excavate, and strip-mine without regard for the consequences to others. They suck their loved ones dry of vital fluids, revealing their deepest fears and yearnings. They expose the most precious secrets of their friends and families, then take all the credit and get all the applause.” –Kim Addonizio, “How to Succeed in Po Biz”
Reading this wonderful essay collection from poet/author Kim Addonizio I realized I’d not read any of her work and I’m remedying that tout suite. I want to read more modern poets and this essay collection suggests I’ll relate to much of her material. She titled this essay collection Bukowski in a Sundress because that’s how a judge for the National Book Critics Award once described her and it wasn’t a compliment. She explains: “Given the level of regard Bukowski enjoys in prestigious literary circles, it’s hard to believe this was meant as a compliment.” She’s bold and audacious in this memoir where she writes about a range of subjects including binge drinking, one-night stands, family caretaking, men, dating, writing and the artist life and all it entails. What more could one want in an essay collection? She’s smart, candid and a strong writer. Whether she’s writing about men in “Penis by Penis” or writing in “The Process,” Addonizio presents an honest account. If you’re over 40 and dating you’ll particularly appreciate this essay collection. If you’re a writer you’ll appreciate Addonizio’s dexterous ability to express herself. In “Plan B,” she writes: “I find it’s important to have a plan, to keep some sense of control, some belief that even if there’s no order to the universe, even if it’s all chaos and darkness, you can navigate your way through it with some existential dignity.” In the essay “The Process,” she offers thoughtful advice including this beautifully worded gem: “Have an uncomfortable mind; be strange. Be disturbed: by what is happening on the planet, and to it; by the cruelty and stupidity humanity is capable of.; by the unbearable beauty of certain music, and the mysteries and failures of love, and the brief, confusing, exhilarating hour of your own life.”
–review by Amy Steele
FTC Disclosure: I received this book for review from Penguin.