‘The cat is the beautiful devil.’
Charles Bukowski had a soft spot for cats. He saw something majestic and elemental about them, something conveyed by the intensity of their searing gaze. Cats see into us; they are on to something.
At the same time, in On Cats, we see cats at their most ruthless and most resilient: they are fighters, hunters, survivors who command awe and respect as they grip tightly onto the world around them.
‘A cat is only ITSELF,’ Bukowski wrote. ‘Representative of the strong forces of life that won’t let go.’
Funny, poignant, tough and tender, On Cats collects the writer’s reflections on the animals he so admired. Bukowski’s cats are seen fighting and stalking their prey, crawling across his typewritten pages and waking him up with claws across the face. But they are also found standing quietly by, sources of inspiration and courage and providers of a kind of gentle, insistent care. Unsentimental but filled with deep feeling, On Cats reveals Bukowski’s unique way of looking at the world through his relationship with the animals he considered among his most profound teachers.
“The best poet in America”
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Charles Bukowski is one of America’s best-known contemporary writers of poetry and prose, and, many would claim, its most influential and imitated poet. He was born in 1920 in Andernach, Germany, to an American soldier father and a German mother, and brought to the United States at the age of three. He was raised in Los Angeles and lived there for fifty years. He published his first story in 1944 when he was twenty-four and began writing poetry at the age of thirty-five. He died in San Pedro, California, on March 9, 1994, at the age of seventy-three, shortly after completing his last novel, Pulp.