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).

Pretender Readers

I am struggling a bit lately and I am unable to write a good review, so here is another opinion post, because I though I was in a bad mood but it has been a few months now so I guess this is who I am now, a hater with a blog.

There is something that has been catching my attention lately, and it is this particular type of people that do not read but pretend they do and go on about it. They love feeling like they know everything about something without having the slightly idea on the subject in question. They will tell you how they loved this book they read years ago, how they tried and make everyone they knew read it afterwards. They will tell you about this other book they did not read but searched reviews on and got their own conclusions on, how amazing it is, how touching, how interesting.

I find this really funny because more and more people read less and less nowadays, and so this works with and for all them. These pretenders are used to find non-readers, and so their strategy gets better, but what is interesting and equally entertaining is how they do not know how to react with a deep reader.

If you are a reader you will understand how you cannot be tricked anymore. You know your readings, you know your books, and what you do not know about you want to know, you want to read everything about anything and get your collection bigger and bigger. Now, when you happen to find one of these, let’s so call them, pretender readers, you get that grin on your face while they speak. You know what they are trying, and it does not work with you. They will talk about easy readings, books that have spread among the masses for the past few months, novels that lack of any depth, novels that you know everything about now and that are not interesting enough.

I have mastered a skill now, I have my tricks, and this is to follow them into their conversation. Be a bit like them, pretend you are interested, ask questions, get to know them. Once you know where they come from, start talking about real books, name Salinger and Bukowski and Franzen, find their weakness, and so show them how wrong they happen to be.

As I am writing this I am feeling like a “mean girl”, but to me this is something that we have to fight and eradicate. We have to teach people how to be real. Me myself, I do not really know what I am talking about most of the time, but I will be honest about it, I will not pretend I am an expert on a subject, I will try and learn more about something and share only what I do know for sure. We should get away from the “I am cool because I am a reader” that we sadly see more often on social media now. Since when did we start pretending to be readers to impress others?

My reading list is still growing and is very long, but I do not pretend I have read books I haven’t even heard of; instead, I find new books and get the time to read them, and then grow my own opinions on them. The world is already too unreal for us to praise this falsehood.

New Purchases

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How many times have you heard “New Year, New Me” so far this new 2016? To me it is more like “New Year, New Reads”, and I am already planning what my reading list is going to include this year (open for sugestions as always).

So here are my picks of the month again, which are basically auto-christmas presents as I like to call them:

The Bachelors, by Muriel Spark

Interesting plot, intriguing idea, and good reviews all over the place, I will be very disappointed if I do not like this one. Set in London, it presents “The Bachelors” as its characters, and the torments these will too suffer, which means drastic changes and excentric situations, or at least that what I expect.

– Your Fathers, Where Are They? And The Prophets, Do They Live Forever?, by Dave Eggers

I mean, who is not attracted by that title? I am sure the “weird title” and the bright cover are a very well done marketing strategy, but I am certainly sold. Thomas and Kev, abductor and abducted respectivelly, find themselves in an abandoned military base, a perfect place for them to have “a conversation”, so high expectations for this one.

– How To Be Both, by Ali Smith

Not sure if I have the “camera” version or the “eyes” version of this book, but either way I am expecting something interesting and moving. It involves art and changes of time, mirrowing two different eras with different characters. Thanks to my friend Vivi for letting me borrow this one,  I have a feeling I am going to like it coming from her.

And I may be repeating the repeated now, but Happy New Year everyone, hope you have a good start and a better ending to this 2016, and please, read a lot.