Forget Tolstoy and Charles Dickens, the hottest author on the college campuses and in the coffee shops these days is a hard-drinking, pugnacious poet who says he prefers watching TV and drinking beer to literary hobnobbing or writing. After years spent working odd jobs and cultivating a beer belly, fifty-four year-old Peter Bruchonski, better known to his friends as "Pug," is the darling of the intellectual set.
Acclaimed for such novels as "The Whore on the Floor" and story collections like "Jelly Doughnuts at the All-Night Laundromat," Bruchonski of late has gained equal attention for his poetry. His new collection Cigarette Butts, Stale Beer, and Daffodils" starts off in typical Pug fashion with the title poem:
The poetry lovers all so dainty.
In the coffee shops and the poetry clubs.
They talk about how they like pretty flowers.
What's the big deal about flowers? I say.
I could present you with a beautiful flower.
Would it make it any less pretty
If I told you I pulled it out of my ass?
Enthusiasts praise the book for its surprising sensitivity, pointing to works like this one:
Everybody thinks I can't make pretty things.
They look at me and say He's ugly.
And yet the other day a saber-tooth tiger jumped out of my heart.
It had long fur and it walked around the living room.
But I didn't like it
So I beat it to death with a club.
Speaking at his modest San Francisco apartment, Bruchonski sips from one his ever-present beers and grunts indifferently when asked about his work. "Writing ain't no big deal," he says. "I used to be a garbageman and nobody gave a shit. I was a good garbageman. Why should writing be any different?" Some in the bohemian scene are uneasy about Bruchonski's political views, which are sometimes libertarian and sometimes reactionary. "I know some cops," he says. "Some of 'em are okay. I wouldn't mind being a cop. They get paid to beat people up."
(This profile was supposed to be longer. Unfortunately Mr. Bruchonski got too drunk and passed out on the floor. If he wakes up, we will continue the article.)