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Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Criminal Justice Quote: The "Bukowski Man" Shoplifter

In the age of the memoir, some writers confess to shoplifting to advance themselves, and others profess to be aghast at the crime. Ron Rosenbaum, the author of provocative books on Hitler and Shakespeare, once wrote a column for the New York Obsever lampooning the white, middle-class shoplifter he labeled "Bukowski Man" [Charles Bukowski, LA underground, noir poet and novelist], whom he described as a "drunk, suburban" poseur "likely to shoplift the Beats, Kerouac's On The Road, Ginsberg's Howl, Abbie Hoffman's Steal This Book, anything by Paul Auster and William S. Burroughs, some French writers, Kafka, Bukowski, and books about sex and marriage." Rosenbaum pointed out that "Bukowski Man" was laboring under the delusion that by stealing he was embracing writers who wallowed in the "lower depths." He said, "Petty and debased ideas of liberation" drive Bukowski Man to shoplift. [To the extent that I have been an avid Bukowski reader, I am a "Bukowski Man." I paid for my books, however.]

Rachel Shteir, The Steal, 2011

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