Read Bukowski’s Response to a Library That Censored His Book


There’s no denying that Charles Bukowski is a divisive literary figure. But upon learning from a local journalist that his short story collection Tales of Ordinary Madness (which is half of the larger work Erections, Ejaculations, Exhibitions and General Tales of Ordinary Madness) had been removed from a public library in the Dutch city of Nijmegen, a lot of what the “laureate of American lowlife” had to say in response makes a lot of sense, even if parts of his missive aren’t necessary politically correct. Namely, we enjoy this passage:

Censorship is the tool of those who have the need to hide actualities from themselves and from others. Their fear is only their inability to face what is real, and I can’t vent any anger against them. I only feel this appalling sadness. Somewhere, in their upbringing, they were shielded against the total facts of our existence. They were only taught to look one way when many ways exist.

Click through to see a copy of the 1985 letter (complete with doodles!), and if you have trouble making it out, head over to Letters of Note for the full transcript.