Thursday, September 4, 2014

Charles Bowden on Writing

For Steve Bodio. Ever since reading your blog on his death I've been on something of a Charles Bowden bender. I've read a number of his magazine pieces over the years, but for whatever reason have never picked up any of his books. That gross oversight will be rectified. I came across this on Mother Jones.

"It's easy to make a living telling the people in control they're're supposed to defend the weak and attack the powerful. Nobody needs court jesters, except I guess the people in the court. Look, you have a gift, life is precious, eventually you die and all you're gonna have to show for it is your work." 

Writers like me look at writers like him through longing, Walter Mitty eyes. I've gone back and read a lot of his older pieces. Every one of them sears, just absolutely sears. 


  1. He was serious-- French "Homme serieux" or Yiddish "Mensch" having more the weight-- but NEVER solemn, and a lot of fun to hang with. He even liked half the crooks he unmasked, and non- chic people like Border homicide cops.

    He'd look at this and say "Shut the fuck up and write." And grin and pour you a drink.

  2. We're talking about a guy who wrote a beautiful book on groundwater depletion, of all things. That takes talent. If you haven't done so, take a look at Killing the Hidden Waters.

  3. there must be something in the Arizona soil, or the Arizona water to nourish such good writers as ed abbey, Katie lee and chuck Bowden.