Ham on Rye


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Legendary barfly Charles Bukowski's fourth novel, first published in 1982, is probably the most autobiographical and moving of all his books, dealing in particular with his difficult relationship with his father and his early childhood in LA. Ham on Rye follows the path of Bukowski's alter-ego Henry Chinaski through the high school years of acne and rejection and into the beginning of a long and successful career in alcoholism. The novel begins against the backdrop of an America devastated by the Depression and takes the ...

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Jan 25, 2008

A feel-good story on child-like adolescence and the transcendence into adulthood. Possibly one of Bukowski's best qualities as a writer (and maybe a person) is his ability to be blatantly honest in the face of disaster to show the true humor we endure in even our worst hour. Ham On Rye is one of the only Bukowski books I would consider reading again; I just can't get enough of little Chinaski and his adventures in the midst of America's Great Depression. Through the working class's struggle to some how move on, Chinaski struggles with them, gritting his teeth, telling us of the old men who prey on broken dreams, the women too pretty to ever touch and the poor lost souls that cling no matter how hard Chinaski might try to escape their bleeding faces. I've never actually had to actually close what I was reading and turn my head from laughing so hard and actually cry or gape in horror at pages from the same book. While some of the stories in the book may shock, seem abhorrent or bring tears to your eyes he still finds a way to be honest enough for you to laugh with him too, and in that find Chinaski to be endearing enough to make you wish you could just sit down and buy the man a drink sometime.

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