Charles Bukowski: Locked in the Arms of a Crazy Life - Howard Sounes Solid and informative, Howard Sounes' biography of Bukowski gets the job done. You'll learn about the man, his experiences, his women, and his writing, but when the title utilizes the word "crazy," there's an expectation the book will live up to its name. This one did not.

With such a dynamic man as the focus, this biography should've been intriguing. The fault is not with the subject but with his biographer: Bukowski's life and controversial writing give plenty of material, but the author wastes it in rote play-by-plays that feed the reader a flat laundry list. I've read other work by Sounes that proved far better than this, so I'm not sure what happened while he was working on this project. Maybe he was as bored as I was at times.

If you've read Bukowski's works, especially Ham on Rye and Women, large chunks of this biography will already be familiar. Not just in the "oh, that sounds familiar" sort of way but in the "Sounes quotes entire passages from the novels and then regurgitates them for the next four pages" kind of way. Repetitive and rote, this biography doesn't do justice to the man on the cover.

But like I said, this is a solid read and does exactly what it's supposed to: give a lifelong account of the man behind the poetry. You'll learn everything you expect to learn from a biography, from birth to death, loves and losses, and Sounes leaves nothing out. I just wish the final product proved more engaging.