An Edited Review of Charles Bukowski’s Scarlet

Charles Bukowski's ScarletCharles Bukowski’s Scarlet by Pamela Wood

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

January 6, 2013 — EDIT:

The author of this book emailed me today and wrote me a very gracious email when she could have rightly attacked me for being so mean spirited in my short, bad review of her book. She assured me of the truthfulness of the book’s contents and told me Bukowski’s publisher, John Martin, had vetted it, so that made it legitimate in my eyes. I feel really very bad for trashing another writer for no good reason. Buk was a hero of mine and I didn’t like seeing what was written about him. It’s as simple as that. Still, that didn’t give me reason to trash the author and I want to publicly apologize for that. I might go back and re-read the book now. I’m going to post my email to Ms. Wood for everyone to see, so that my apology is made public.

Dear Pamela,

Thank you for your gracious email — very unexpected. I feel about an inch tall now. I just went back and re-read that mini-review I wrote some time back and it was mean spirited and wrong of me to attack you, and for that I apologize. I still don’t like the book, but I’ll believe you when you say it’s true and having John Martin OK it speaks volumes, you’re right.

See, Bukowski has been my hero for many decades now. Among my most treasured possessions are books and t-shirts he autographed for me when he was obviously still alive. He and I corresponded, which meant a lot to me as a young writer. We also appeared in a lot of the same magazines together. I know he had a real sensitive side to him that he liked to hide with his gruff exterior, but I loved his tough guy image. And your book damaged that image I had of him. It was hard for me to believe he could be so p***y whipped, which is what it seemed like to me. I’m sure that was the case and kudos to you for making it happen. It just was hard for me to read. It was like seeing my hero toppled from the throne. Maybe that helps explain my hostility.

But nothing excuses my hostility. Again, I apologize profusely. I’m sorry for calling you a crappy writer. You were published by a good press and the writing was fine — I just didn’t like what was written. I’m sorry for making a personal attack against your appearance. That was really below the belt. I’m ashamed.

I’ve never done this, but I’m going to see if I can’t edit my book review and provide some more details and better context, complete with apology. I assume I can do this with Goodreads. If it’s any consolation to you, the only bad review one of my books got on that site was from someone who admitted in the review he hadn’t even read my book — he just wanted to trash it. That stung.

I’m glad you’ve worked so hard to become successful in your life and continued good luck to you in your endeavors. It must be something to be somewhat of a living legend. That’s something no one can take from you. Thanks again for your email.

Scott Holstad


I thought this was a terrible book by a crappy writer with an ax to grind, who also was extraordinarily narcissistic. She really felt like the world revolved around her and Bukowski jumped to be with her. She was a high school drop out who had a kid at something like age 15 who was a waitress at a dump. And one of the greatest authors in the world is drooling over her and does her every bidding cause she’s so great and she feels sorry for him, so she lets him near her. I found almost nothing in the book to be remotely credible. Buk may have had a thing for her, but she places far too much importance on herself, in my opinion. It also looks like she’s had some work done judging by the back cover photo. Honestly, I thought she was pond scum. Sorry.

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One thought on “An Edited Review of Charles Bukowski’s Scarlet

  1. Ouch. I think this is a good example of one reason I am leery to pursue print publication. The nice thing about what I write in my blog is I can edit it even years later if I come to regret what I’ve written.

    At any rate, I’m glad you apologized.


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