Book Review: Post Office, by Charles Bukowski

postofficecoverI find it easier for me to write a review on a book I dislike because the wrong comes easily to point out, but a review is way harder to complete when you find the book to be a really good one, and you have to pick and choose what is more important than the rest. I will try my best here, but I have feelings for this boozy bastard, so if I do not achieve what I intend to say, just know that I deeply like Bukowski.

“It began as a mistake.”

This is how we are introduced by our narrator, Henry Chinaski, who appears in this novel for the first time (basically because this is Bukowski’s first work), and who represents his creator himself and his experiences working in the Post Office (hence the name). This novel is completely autobiographical, almost, may I say, too autobiographical. It is basically every-day life made novel, as the character parades from work to home and then back to work, which may sound as the most boring thing taking into account that this is what almost all of us do in a daily basis. However, I believe here is where the greatness of this novel resides, because no one had ever thought that normal life could be so entertaining.

This entertainment has a lot to do with the way our narrator copes with life: alcohol and women, both in abundance. Now combine the rudeness of his character with an amazing literary style. No literary plethora, no academic words, no pretty writing, just pure words straight from a drunk genie.

“Was I some kind of idiot, actually? Did I make things happen to myself? It was possible. It was possible that I was subnormal, that I was lucky just to be alive.”

Bukowski received a lot of critic because of the same reason I find him so great. He was too real, and some do not get to read in between the lines. By writing this book he was criticizing the people around him, his job, the United States of America, and himself, all of this at the same time. Because he is not trying to be a figure to follow at all, he is only showing his vision of life, how one can still be happy with the small things in life. What if the guy is always drunk and has a serious weakness for women? He is just trying to survive the best way he can.

And he is funny, really funny.

“Look, let’s give it up. Let’s just lay around and make love and take walks and talk a little. Let’s go to the zoo. Let’s look at the animals. Let’s drive down and look at the ocean. It’s only 45 minutes. Let’s play games in the arcades. Let’s go to the races, the Art Museum, the boxing matches. Let’s have friends. Let’s laugh. This kind of life is like everybody else’s kind of life: it’s killing us.”

 “I was being raped by a high yellow enchantress! For a moment, it excited me. Then I told her. “Shit. Get down, baby. It’s been a long hard day. There will be a better time.” She climbed off. The thing went down like an express elevator.”

It was hard to choose quotes, I would put the whole book down here if I could. I can’t do that (copyright and stuff), so you may have to read it yourselves and decide whether you love it or you hate it. One or the other, this book is worth reading nevertheless.

Currently: trying to finish “How to be both” by Ali Smith before I start reading “High Rise” by J. G. Ballard (I have to read it before I watch Tom Hiddleston going crazy on screen).

NEW PURCHASES

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When it comes to books, I have to admit that I am more of a buyer, as I tend to buy books and collect them in between my tiny room in London and my not so tiny room in Spain, and I feel quite proud of my little collection, although it does not make a difference if you like to spend money on books or you prefer to read for free in the library, the list of books to read is never ending, and so I guess I will have to rent a bigger room eventually.

Anyways, and regardless my lack of space, these are my picks of the month (only three, I’m taking it easy, I still have books that I bought last month and haven’t had a chance to read yet):

  1. The Vegetarian, by Han Kang

Excited about this one, I read the first page before buying it and I was already loving it. It is the story of Yeong-hye and her husband, and how their life changes when Yeong-hye starts seeking for a more ‘plant-like’ existence. Definitely doing a review after I finish it.

  1. How To Be Alone, by Jonathan Franzen

I know we can always expect something good from Franzen, as he does not publish anything he is not really happy about, but I have not heard about this one before, although it is supposed to be a collection of essays with critic tones, and I am a sucker for those.

  1. Hangover Square, by Patrick Hamilton

This was a random pick, I was basically attracted by the title and I did not even check what it was about when I bought it. It is set in London 1939, and it is supposed to be one of those convoluted stories you get yourself trapped in, so it seems worth reading.

Also, as you may have noticed walking down the streets after Halloween, it is Christmas season!  Which means Santa is coming with new books in his sack, and I think the 2016 list is going to be long…