Book #7: Post Office by Charles Bukowski

A very short, very quick read. Unsurprisingly, similar to Ham on Rye in many respects. But it’s more interesting to me in the respect that all the unrelenting negative things that happened to the young Henry in Ham on Rye really weren’t his fault; they were what happened to him. The adult Henry is far more in control of his fate, is self-aware and has a sense of humor about it. That seems to me to be the better balance. And it is rather refreshing that he is so forthright about it all, without excuses. This is the life that he’s chosen to lead.

Post Office is, as a female friend of mine noted, very male. Well, yes and no. It is very male, but more precisely it is very alcoholic. Henry Chinsaki leads the kind of life that if he ever showed up in AA and recounted a story about it, no matter how outrageous, there would invariably be at least a couple other people in the room nodding their heads and saying, “That totally happened to me as well!” It is a life about not really giving a shit about anything except the next drink. Woman and racing, to be sure, but really more excuses for the drinking. Anyone who has struggled with alcohol can recognize the dynamic.

Henry Chinsaki is clearly a character of only thinly-veneered fiction on autobiography, but a key difference is Bukowski really did give a shit. Like most good authors, when you really look into it, he read widely and deeply. I don’t know if you can say his writing is exactly disciplined, but he kept at it. As he said, “ If I don’t make it by the time I’m 60, I’m just going to give myself 10 more years.” He had literary ambitions.

I have Hollywood queued up to read shortly.