Sunday, February 17, 2013

Roadkill Review: Post Office by Charles Bukowski

I used to work in a warehouse unloading shipping containers. When you cut off the seal and open them up you are faced with a 7’ x 7’ wall of cartons that stretches back 40 feet. It was freezing cold in winter, hot as a whore’s crotch in summer and back breaking all year round.

Anyone who has made minimum wage in a similar fashion will immediately identify with the dead end grind of Bukowski’s semi-autobiographical protagonist, Henry Chinaski.

Chinaski is a low life loser working a menial day job to support his hobbies of beer, broads and racetracks. He hates his job, his co-workers and at times himself.  
Post Office is a story about life or maybe existence would be a better word.  Chuck Palahniuk summed it up: “We all work jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don’t need.”
I really can’t make up my mind about Bukowski; for me he falls somewhere between working class anti-hero and self centered arrogant. I guess that’s part of his charm, or lack of it depending on your point of view. He certainly does the down beat humor and fuck-you narrative better than most; he should, arguably he was the one who invented it.  
Post Office was Bukowski’s first novel and as such it is a little loose and it lacks the depth of his more engaging later works like Ham on Rye. But if you like your characters down and dirty and your prose spare and raw then this is a novel worthy of your time.

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