IF WE TAKE [Inscribed Association]
[Los Angeles]: Black Sparrow Press, 1970. First Edition. 12mo. String-tied stiff printed wraps. Near fine with touches of rubbing, soil. One of 350 copies. INSCRIBED by Bukowski to Harold Norse: "12 -27 - 69 / For Hal Norse - / We've both been / through the fire, / dear friend, and / there's more to come - / more fire more o / so much more fire, / and we can only / wonder if we will / kill ourselves first, / or they. No matter - / they will never know. / yrs, / Charles Bukowski." Bukowski has also added to inside of front cover an illustration of a man smoking, signed "Buk." (Item ID: 12488)
An extraordinary and warm inscription in the first of many Black Sparrow greetings Bukowski would do for the press. Norse, perennial literary scenester and author of the classic cut-up novel Beat Hotel, was a frequent Bukowski correspondent beginning in the mid 1960's, and it was Norse who recommended Bukowski to Penguin Press for their Modern Poets series (he and Norse appeared together in the thirteenth installment) -- then Bukowski's highest-profile appearance to date. But the two didn't meet in person until January of 1969, a little less than a year before this inscription. Norse recalls the experience in his book MEMOIRS OF A BASTARD ANGEL: "I knew that a wild Falstaffian ruffian had come to shake things up with more fiction than fact, more fantasy than truth [...] Bukowski was misshapen [...] He looked [...] down and out" (p. 420). And indeed, the poet was down and out: frustrated at his job for the Post Office and desperate to find a way to support himself from his writing alone. He would soon find that opportunity later the same year when Black Sparrow publisher John Martin famously offered Bukowski a guaranteed $100 a month for life if he wrote for the press full time. According to Martin, their agreement went into effect January 2nd, 1970 - just six days after this inscription and only a few weeks before Bukowski completed his first novel, Post Office. Norse and Bukowski remained life-long -- if contentious -- friends and correspondents (a collection of their letter has been slated, but delayed, for publication since 2002). Quite simply, one of the closest and warmest Bukowski associations we've seen, capturing the poet at a pivotal moment in his career. [Krumhansl 31]. [Morrow and Cooney 74].