10.23.2012

Post Office by Charles Bukowski


 "I didn't make for an interesting person. I didn't want to be interesting, it was too hard."

Post Office is Bukowski's first novel. Up until it was published he was focused on writing poetry. I finished this book about four weeks ago and never got around to writing a review. I just starting reading Bukowski this year, and he's quite the guy. Post Office follows Bukowski's alter ego, Henry Chianski, while he's an employee of the US post office. There isn't much in terms of plot. Instead, we follow Henry through his day-to-day; waking up with hangovers, dragging himself to work, seducing women, boozing, and repeating it all the next day. (Bukowski himself worked at the US post office for 11 years before he quit at the age of 50 to pursue writing full-time.)

Bukowski is very direct in terms of language and subject matter - he discusses sex, women, and booze in a way that would easily offend a lot of people. I admit there were certain passages that grossed me out - like when he discussed his bowel movements with adjectives like "good" and "hot". But I also I found some of these bits to be humorous and smart - exposing human nature in an honest and amusing way.
"The midget was married to a very beautiful girl. When she was in her teens she got a coke bottle trapped in her p*ssy and had to go to a doctor to get it out, and, like in all small towns, the word got out about the coke bottle, the poor girl was shunned, and the midget was the only taker. He'd ended up with the best piece of ass in town."
Post Office is about a drifter, an alcoholic who doesn't aspire to be anything more than he already is. It's dry, it's crude and it's rough; it's filled with profanities, violence, and sex. Bukowski supposedly wrote the novel in just three weeks after Black Sparrow Press offered to pay him to quit the post office to write full-time. I have to say I enjoyed Ham on Rye more than this one because it was more plot focused and less of a character study, but if you like Bukowski, Post Office is still worth the read.

Publisher: Ecco, 1971

12 comments:

  1. Sounds like some excellent contemporary stuff to me :) I'm in.

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    1. I imagine you would like this one!

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  2. I've never read any of his work before, but I'm a fan of novels where nothing much happens, so I think I'll add this to my list. Thanks for the review.

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    1. Love your comment :) I get what you mean about those kind of books, it's just not a comment I see very often!

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    2. I can relate. I'm reading The Heart is a Lonely Hunter right now and quite...quite dig it.

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  3. I believe when I read your other Bukowski review, I was like 'I'm so going to read this!' and then, well, didn't. BUT I am interested in reading some Bukowski, especially because of that first quote you've got up there. So yes. I will remember this this time!

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    1. Ha! Well I look forward to your thoughts, Laura!

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  4. I can't remember if I have this one or Ham on Rye. I want to read both.

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  5. This sounds like a rough little read..I kinda dig that when I'm in the mood for something gritty ;)

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  6. I love Bukowski's poetry! - I find it raw and real and hard-hitting. He uses simple language that has such a profound effect. Granted, he is rough around the edges, but surprisingly, there's a lot of beauty to be found in his poems, and his spirit shines through as a wounded dreamer, idealist and individual rallying against the conformity of the collective.
    Interestingly, I came across a letter of his he wrote to his publisher about the horrors of his post office job, you can read it here: http://www.lettersofnote.com/2012/10/people-simply-empty-out.html

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  7. Love this and saw that you did a review of Gone Girl. I just started that two nights ago and have literally neglected people because I can't put it down. So glad I found your blog! Do you write as well? I feel like you'd write a great novel with the way you analyze other ones!

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  8. I really like Bukowski's poetry, which is just as raw and as profanity-filled as his fiction.I think the appeal is the stark honesty.

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