PopMatters recently let drop a special section about the Frey/LeRoy hoohah, and though there's not much else that needs to be said about those clowns*, your pal did note a decent observation about Bukowski in one of the articles:
If you have actually read A Million Little Pieces...you can see the recipe for hubris oozing through the language, a penchant for self-worshipping edginess and roosterish machismo that already signals a somewhat one-eyed and inflated view of his world. It's a nonetheless cracking if overextended and relentless read in that vein of dirty realism most finely evoked by such obvious influences as Charles Bukowski. The difference being that Bukowski always had a flair for self irony and humour, and a curiously brutal sensitivity that gave no quarter to anyone's lies, including that of his own myth as America's Barfly poet laureate. One reason, perhaps, why so many fans fail to see that the softness in Bukowski's later work is just as raw as the toughness in his earlier material? They just don't want that level of honesty messing with the image.
YPTR agrees. Although Buk was clearly the beneficiary and ringmaster of his dissolution--or, at least, his dissolute image--there are plenty of instances of him letting the air out of that particular balloon, even early on. The later stuff, with the poet grappling for meaning and (lost) authenticity in the fat-and-happy, driving-a-BMW years, is interesting because the contrast between his lean years and later success is just so stark and difficult to swallow, for poet and reader.
It seems obvious, if sad, that CB's "irony and humor"--the realization that there's a way to go on, but ultimately no cure--all but disqualified him for the kind of spotlight that Oprah's Self-Help/Hype Machine so briefly shined on Mr. Frey. Not that Buk needed it.
Franzen, if crass, probably knew what he was doing.
(*Except: If JTL's practiced eccentricity and JF's pseudo-macho WWE-wrastlin' buffoonery didn't set off any alarm bells for you a long time ago, then it's time to recalibrate your bullshit detector.)