In her letter about my review of "Hank," Neeli Cherkovski's biography of Charles Bukowski, reader Joan Jobe Smith (Letters, June 9) accuses me of being one of those "L.A. critics (who) continue to put down" Bukowski, whom she calls one of our "home boys." In her eagerness to defend her own "home boy," Ms. Smith did not read what I wrote.
Not only did I devote the first two paragraphs of my review to denouncing the arbitrary denigration of "Los Angeles authors"--an attitude I've long protested--but I went on to decry the fact that Bukowski in particular is "still begrudged respectful attention." I described him as "the possessor of a strong, disturbing voice that has led his ardent admirers to consider his poetry among today's best and to compare his tough-guy prose to that of Ernest Hemingway."
Smith goes on moonily to lament my chastising Cherkovski for being so in awe of his subject that he did not pursue Bukowski into certain touchy areas, if only to allow him to clarify. Smith infers that I was referring to what she lovingly calls Bukowski's "tales of hard times and wild women."
I was not, and it's possible that she would agree with my observation if I had mentioned some of the subjects Cherkovski merely pauses on in order to dismiss, including Bukowski's youthful comments in defense of Nazis, an outrageous remark about rape, and an ambiguous reference to "homo" writers.