Interview with David Stephen Calonne

City Lights sits down for a one-on-one interview with David Stephen Calonne, editor of the recently released The Bell Tolls for No One, a book of previously uncollected pulp fiction from Charles Bukowski, published by City Lights.

From the self-illustrated, unpublished work written in 1947 to hardboiled contributions to 1980s adult magazines, The Bells Tolls for No One presents the entire range of Bukowski’s talent as a short story writer, from straight-up genre stories to postmodern blurring of fact and fiction. An informative introduction by editor David Stephen Calonne provides historical context for these seemingly scandalous and chaotic tales, revealing the hidden hand of the master at the top of his form.

Born in Andernach, Germany, and raised in Los Angeles, Charles Bukowski published his first story when he was twenty-four and began writing poetry at the age of thirty-five. His first book of poetry was published in 1959; he would eventually publish more than forty-five books of poetry and prose. He died of leukemia in San Pedro, California on March 9, 1994.

David Stephen Calonne is the author of several books and has edited three previous collections of the uncollected work of Charles Bukowski for City Lights: Absence of the Hero, Portions from a Wine-Stained Notebook, and More Notes of a Dirty Old Man.

David Calonne discussing his new book Charles Bukowski (Critical Lives Series)

David Calonne came into City Lights Bookstore to discuss his new book Charles Bukowski (Critical Lives Series) (Reaktion Books) on December 4, 2012. 

Charles Bukowski (Critical Lives Series)

Poet, short-story writer, and novelist Charles Bukowski (1920–94) was once called by Time a “laureate of American lowlife.” In this new interpretation of his life and work, David Stephen Calonne examines the creation and originality of Bukowski’s writings through the lens of his colorful life, the literary traditions that influenced him, and his unique place in world literature.

Calonne describes how Bukowski, who was born in Germany and immigrated to the United States at the age of three, was influenced by German literary and intellectual traditions. He shows how the writer’s traumatic childhood—his abusive father, social withdrawal, and early introduction to alcohol—influenced the themes and content of his work. Calonne also explores several unknown pieces of fiction and poetry from the early years of Bukowski’s career, as well as his major works—including Post Office and the poetry volumes published by Black Sparrow Press—and biographical films such as Barfly. Comprehensive but concise, Charles Bukowski will find a wide audience in fans of this prolific, influential figure and provide a valuable introduction to his new admirers.

David Stephen Calonne is the author of William Saroyan: My Real Work Is Being and Bebop Buddhist Ecstasy: Saroyan’s Influence on Kerouac and the Beats, and he has edited several Bukowski titles, including Absence of the Hero: Uncollected Stories and Essays, Vol. 2: 1946-1992, More Notes of a Dirty Old Man, and  Portions From a Wine-Stained Notebook Uncollected Stories and Essays, 1944-1990.