Bukowski's funniest novel.
I must admit I was quite a bit struck by this book. The book started with “It began as a mistake.” Isn’t this how life is? Our parents got together (mistake #1), we're conceived (mistake #2, sometimes also mistake #1), we're not aborted (mistake #3), and then the rest of our lives - an unending succession of mistakes. Luckily for us, it does end eventually, but in between it's nothing but trial and error. What keeps us going is the knowledge that for all our failures, it is precisely these mistakes that teach us how to live, what we love and what we loathe, our aspirations and our aversions.
Bukowski was essentially writing about his own life as a US Postal Service employee. He was Chinaski in the book. Chinaski is a despicable man, an alcoholic, a womanizer and a cynic guy. I think what draws me in is his blatant cynicism, which I share. Many reviews characterize this book as funny, which I don’t agree. Yes, it is at times funny, but really a dark humor. Chinaski’s life is sad, the guy is a loser, but I think what the book does well is that I felt that Chinaski’s life, though sad, is never hopeless. For all his cynicism and crass, Chinaski also shows compassion at times, such as when his ex-girlfriend died and when his ageing post office colleague started to have trouble at work and Chinaski feels an urge to help him. And he IS devoted to his work (in his own unorthodox way). Chinaski may be what we consider a loser but he thrives in his own way. In the end, I don’t know if I pity him or if I admire him. I have mixed feelings, but at this moment, I feel more admiration toward him.
Admittedly, Bukowski wasn't the most sophisticated of writers. He did a lot more telling than showing, although the tales he told showed us quite a bit about the absurdities of modern life, the insanities we're so often driven to, and all the myriad ways in which we choose to cope.
A delirious, repetitive, repressed and hostile bureaucratic nightmare, Post Office is a novel that takes on Bukowski's decade-plus chained to the postal system. As a compelling artist, sloppy drunk, and sexually voracious gambler, Bukowski drifts in and out of his narrative with unsentimental anger and boozy energy, an undercurrent of resentment and anger everpresent until it is contrasted clean with the interest and indulgent love for the women in his life.
Classic Bukowski. Not sure why I keep reading him, but I'm drawn to his books somehow. I'd give this a 3.5 / 5
This is one of the best books I've read in 2015. My first Bukowski, and I want to read more from him. He's the ultimate no-bullshit writer.
I can really relate to Chinaski. I remember I had a job once for 10 years. I've often wondered if something simple like working at the post office would be up my alley. After reading his account I don't think so. It seems it's like most things in life because it's all really an inside job. No matter what we are born alone, we die alone and in between we try to connect with others as best we can but ultimately we do most of this whole deal alone. Chinaski is his own worst enemy and you can tell if he just quit drinking things would be so much better for him. But like a good Irvine Welsh novel you almost cheer for him to get his next drink to at least get a little relief that day. The older I have gotten the more complicated I understand life to be. If only it were as easy as it seemed in the 70's before growing up to the stark realities of the world.
i discovered Post Office & Charles Bukowski about a month ago. I just finished Ham on Rye and have Factotem on order. I feel like Columbus when he discovered America or Fleming when discovered penicillin. Awesome writer & storyteller. Powerful writer with steady pace.
Bukowski's first novel tackles his life working in various positions at his local Post Office, before he became a successful author. While this isn't my favorite of his work, it's definately the quickest read (I read it in two days, but could have easily made it in one had I not been so busy).
On the front cover some clown with the nom de plume, 'uncut', declares, "One of the funniest books ever written." That should be the first sign that the book is not as funny as 'uncut' thinks. If a person has ever had a job in the civil service they can relate to the bs as portrayed here. Mind you having a severe alcohol addiction that our protagonist has doesn't help him cope. Maybe some people find humour in the anecdotal life of a somewhat functioning lush. Anyway, it is not a funny book but it is amusing in parts. Bukowski shares his pitiful life with the world and is given the accolade of being a great contemporary writer. Probably he should be remembered as a drinker who might have been a decent writer.
I found this novel (his first) to be a very accessible, interesting, and easy mostly autobiographical read.
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