Author: Charles Bukowski
Page Count/Review Word Count: 308
This book is a difficult one to categorise, because the line between fiction and non-fiction is a blurry one here. But then, that always happens with Bukowski – his stories are often autobiographical, but he also takes details from the stories that his friends told him to create his alter ego, Hank Chinaski.
In this book, we follow Chinaski through a succession of different women as he drinks booze and plays at the race tracks. Because of that, in many ways, it’s a quintessential Charles Bukowski book, and if you’ve read any of his prose before then you’ll already know roughly what to expect. For me, some of the pieces even gave me a sense of deja vu, as though I’d read them before. It’s hard to tell whether that’s because they were collected elsewhere and I had actually previously read them, or whether it’s because Bukowski’s style is so iconic that once you’ve read a few of his books, you’ve effectively read them all.
Now, I definitely wouldn’t say this is my favourite Bukowski book, but in many ways that’s because there’s so much choice on the market. But it is a very good introduction to his work and his writing style, and it’s an essential part of any Bukowski fan’s collection. Sure, he may have been an alcoholic, gambling–addicted womaniser, but the man could write. I imagine his work is probably more controversial now than it was when it was first published, in part because of his attitude towards women, but if you can separate the man from his art and just enjoy his brutally simple style of writing, you’re going to have a lot of fun.
Besides, most controversial books are only controversial because they contain an unpleasant truth.