This is another one of those books which I am in no way worthy to critique or judge, given the nature of who Bukowski was as a novelist and poet. Who am I to critique a man of this caliber? I’m just a blogger who, frankly, can hardly write his own opinion, let alone a story.
Of course, there is something about Bukowski that you either love or hate. He’s hard to classify. His semi-autobiographical perspective comes with a very degenerative taste, almost a funk that’s hard to wash off once you’re finished reading it At the same time, I found him intriguing and rather hilarious.
Henry Chinaski, Bukowski’s alter ego, details in first person perspective the drudgery and misery that is working for the United States Postal Service, first as a carrier, then as a sorter. When he’s not working, he’s drinking and sleeping around (sometimes doing the latter on the job). This makes up his existence for the better part of twelve years, and he tells us these tales in a matter-of-fact way as if everyone around him was doing the same thing.
Like I said, the debauchery and gratuitous sex kind of leave a film on you that’s hard to wash off, but it’s a good read, for sure. I’d love to say there was some underlying metaphor or message beneath it all, but mostly it’s just about how much it sucks to work at the post office. I think this is why I liked it so much, actually; anyone can identify with job dissatisfaction, and it’s there in full with this book.
I think I also appreciated Chinaski’s aimlessness. To use antiquated terms, I’m neither a drunkard nor a fornicator, but I do get that drifting feeling that most twenty-somethings get that I’m going absolutely nowhere. It sucks. I don’t know if Bukowski was feeling the same thing at the time, but that was the impression I got.
Anyway, check this book out, especially if you work for the post office.