Bukowski is always Bukowski. You hate it, then you love it, then you hate it again. He is a chronic cynical, an apparent misogynist, a hater and a lover. The Captain is Out for Lunch and the Sailors Have Taken Over the Ship is a diary he kept from 1991 to 1993 in Los Angeles — it features his thoughts, his daily adventures, his relationship with women, with people, with readers, with fame, with gambling and with alcohol.
As a diary written just prior to his death in 1994, it is amazing to see he maintained the same cynical thoughts and behaviour he has always apparently criticised in himself. And, even though older and supposedly wiser, he was actually the same old Bukowski — drinking, writing, gambling, hating and getting bored. The Captain is Out for Lunch and the Sailors Have Taken Over the Ship is a portrait of Bukowski himself.
He was bored with people, music, Hollywood and fame. But he actually was ok with his death and his ageing body. The Portuguese version fails to feature Robert Crumb’s fantastic illustrations, but be sure to read the English version, as it was an immense collaboration between two underground legends. The illustrator accurately accompanies Bukowski’s thoughts, cynicism and boredom.
As death is inexorably closer, the diary seems to cast some light into the then 72-year-old author’s life. Incredibly enough, even though he is bored with people and things in general, he is not bored with himself and with his writing, which he considers to be excellent.
The Captain is Out for Lunch and the Sailors Have Taken Over the Ship is real. It is Bukowski at his best, or at his worst, depending on where you stand.