Author: Kim Addonizio

Publisher: Penguin Books

ISBN: 9780143128465

An enjoyable and exhilarating read.

As with all good poets, subversion is Kim Addonizio’s domain. Her caustic observations have stood the test of time in a range of writing, including, poetry, short stories, novels, writing guides written over decades. At 61 years old, she’s clearly at the top of her game with her memoir-essays, Bukowski in a Sundress.

Addonizio introduces herself to the reader while on a drinking binge, wearing a plunging neckline, a miniskirt and sporting fishnet stockings, and featuring tattoos. She’s on the prowl for a one-night stand while attending a writer’s conference. Her cynical take on writing is equally predatory as she advises on a step-by-step approach to writing successfully. “Writers”, she says “plunder, excavate, and strip mine without regard for the consequences to others”. Moreover, all successful writers she urges, “Expose the most precious secrets of their families and friends, then take all the credit and get all the applause.”

As one of the early adopters of a Bohemian lifestyle, she is a seasoned iconoclast with a proven writing success. She's earned fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, a Pushcart Prize and the John Ciardi Lifetime Achievement Award. Her 2000 poetry collection Tell Me was a National Book Award Finalist.

By any measure the best memoir is a tell all. In the regard, Addonizio doesn’t disappoint. “This may be because I'm a woman, which means I am an emotional land mine waiting to be stepped on, a weeping, oversharing harpy whose inner weather fluctuates wildly." The reader is given a lot of space to connect and relate to her acerbic insights into men, teaching, the process of writing. She reserves the business of writing for her sharpest comments on its injustices. “If you're not lucky, no one says anything at all, because no one knows that your slim little volume of poetry or your novel ten years in the making even exists."

This is a writer whose life is her subject matter. Art must do more than imitate. For Addonizio it must also transcend. In her Chapter “How I write” she muses, "Some enchanted evening, you see a strange word across a crowded room. It looks different from all the other words; it beckons and glows." As a writer Addonizio’s material is the extraordinary. She takes her readers on an enjoyable and exhilarating ride in telling her confessions of a writing life.