Bukowski's writing is as unorthodox and extreme as was his life as a down-and-out drunk. Some of his poems and short stories are filled with the sort of brutal honesty that can leave your jaw dangling and your face red-hot, while other writings reveal an extremely heightened sensitivity and a surprising tenderness. This raw candor has made him a favorite among less puritanical European nations and artistically inclined Americans hungering for the type of grittiness the "Bard of Booze and Broads" wrote about with such expertise. Mainstream success, of course, was never experienced and never courted. Whether Bukowski related stories of sex, inebriation, transcendence, travel or even childhood, reading his work is invariably an intoxicating experience due to the unfettered zest for life -- and no small amount of humor -- he injected into all of his work. Even at his or his subjects' most wretched moments, there is a tangible love for living and a need to revel in all the good and lousy experiences life has to offer that sweeps his fans off of their feet. Be careful, though -- you might wind up ass-first in a seedy barroom on a stained barstool.