Ham on Rye - Charles Bukowski

With his fourth novel, legendary barfly Charles Bukowski follows the path of his alter ego Henry Chinaski through the high school years of acne and rejection, drinking his way through the Depression, and ends at the start of World War 2. 

Genre: Semi-autobiographical Fiction
  Canongate Books
Year: 1982
Rating: 5/5 

Ham on Rye is a semi-autobiographical novel about the infamous Henry Chinaski, known as Charles Bukowski's alter ego. 

I first was introduced to Chinaski in Post Office, which explored the meaningless drudgery of working in a job you hate, with no hope of bettering your situation. In Ham on Rye, we learn about Chinaski's life before he enters the US Postal Service.

A bit of a loner, Chinaski is bad at sports, prefers to read, is awkward with girls, is mercilessly beaten and emotionally abused by his father and suffers from disfiguring acne. Being an adolescent is hard enough but with all the other things Chinaski has to deal with, life just sucks. No wonder he develops a bad attitude, sarcastic way of dealing with people and a drinking problem! 

Written in Bukowski's signature style, Ham on Rye is crude, insightful, poetic, disgusting, honest, raw, entertaining, sickening, compelling, endearing and exhausting. I loved every second of it.

There were times that I laughed out loud, others where I felt sad for Chinaski, times when I disliked him with a passion and a few key scenes where I just wanted to put the book down and go throw up.  I seriously hope that the scene where he is visiting his friend is one of the fiction parts of this novel, I am not sure if I could handle THAT being true. If you have read it I am sure you know which scene I am referring to. YUK! Totally warped.

Ham on Rye is a brilliant novel and is a must read for Bukowski fans. If you aren't a Bukowski fan and want to experience his work, this novel would be the place to start. Just be warned, you are in for a wild ride!
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