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Factotum Paperback – May 31, 2002


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Ecco (May 31, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0876852630
  • ISBN-13: 978-0876852637
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (124 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #48,973 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"1Not since George Orwell has the condition of being down-and-out been so well recorded. - New York Times 2Funny and sharp, observant, clever with details and honest. - Times Literary Supplement 3A side-splitting chronicle ... dirty realism from the godfather of lowlife literature - Uncut 4Its genius is simple and it shines a wee candle on the life of an aspiring poet and home-relief applicant - Bizarre" - --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

Charles Bukowsk is one of America's best-known contemporary writers of poetry and prose, and, many would claim, its most influential and imitated poet. He was born in 1920 in Andernach, Germany, to an American soldier father and a German mother, and brought to the United States at the age of three. He was raised in Los Angeles and lived there for fifty years. He published his first story in 1944 when he was twenty-four and began writing poetry at the age of thirty-five. He died in San Pedro, California, on March 9, 1994, at the age of seventy-three, shortly after completing his last novel, Pulp.


More About the Author

Charles Bukowski is one of America's best-known contemporary writers of poetry and prose, and, many would claim, its most influential and imitated poet. He was born in Andernach, Germany, and raised in Los Angeles, where he lived for fifty years. He published his first story in 1944, when he was twenty-four, and began writing poetry at the age of thirty-five. He died in San Pedro, California, on March 9, 1994, at the age of seventy-three, shortly after completing his last novel, Pulp (1994).

Customer Reviews

All of Bukowski's work is autobiographical.
G. Kristinsdottir
They made a movie of the book in 2005, called 'Factotum' after the book, that was very good.
Schtinky
He writes in a such a way that you really feel like you know him after you read his books.
Ellen Spears Baker

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

61 of 69 people found the following review helpful By Michael J. Mazza HALL OF FAME on May 16, 2002
Format: Paperback
"Factotum," the novel by Charles Bukowski, describes the wanderings of aspiring writer Henry Chinaski across the United States during the World War II era. Categorized as "4-F," Chinaski doesn't serve in the military and instead wanders from city to city, from one odd job to another. Along the way Bukowski describes his run-ins with the police, his sexual adventures, and his drinking.
I found "Factotum" to be episodic and to lack the focus and impact of Bukowski's excellent novel "Post Office," also featuring Chinaski. But "Factotum" is still a good read with some really stunning passages. Bukowski seems to be deromanticizing the "myth of the starving artist," which he calls a "hoax," in this book. I only wish that "Factotum" featured more about Chinaski's vocation as a writer; I found the parts of the book that focused on his identity as a writer to be the most interesting parts.
"Factotum" is particularly interesting in its context as a novel of the World War II era which deals with the U.S. homefront, but in an entirely unromantic and detached way. Bukowski's prose is often quite vivid; one encounter with a rather scary prostitute is a particular gem of Bukowski's raw, in-your-face style. Overall, a solid work by one of America's most distinctive writers.
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58 of 66 people found the following review helpful By Riccardo Pelizzo on February 14, 2005
Format: Paperback
The quality of Bukowski's poetry is questionable. His short stories are very sharp, very desperate, very amused. Tthe short stories are what Bukowski did best, while his novels are of very uneven quality.

This said, the three novels of Bukowski's trilogy (Factotum, Post Office, Women) are his best novels and factotum is the best of the three. Women was written and published in the late 1970s when Bukowski or his alter ego Henry Chinaski was already an establihsed professional writer. Post Office covers the years in which he Bukowski had a sort of regular job and regular life.

Factotum is the story of the young Bukowski, the Bukowski that was rolling from a job to another, from a town to another, from a woman to another, in an impressive collections of failures--failed jobs, failed relationships, failed everything all told with a considerable amount of irony.

It's a very interesting read, to say the least. Five stars.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By "timmyjones" on April 25, 2001
Format: Paperback
This is the third book of Bukowski's that i have read (the first two were "Post Office" and "Hollywood") and thus far it is my favorite.
This book is composed of a series of short passages, 87 total. This book is mostly about Henry Chinaski (meaning, for the most part, Charles Bukowski) drinking, having sex with women who drink, and moving from job to job. I dont know how many jobs Chinaski has in this book, but he often holds them only long enough for a single one-page section.
If there is any unity in terms of story and plot in this book, it is found in the women, such as Jan and Laura, who manage to stay in Chinaski's life for a few jobs; the women serve to string together the sections.
More significant than any plot are the various interwoven themes that Bukowski deals with, such as futility, solitary existence, and death (all themes that might lead us to link Bukowski with existentialist philosophy). These ideas (among others) are all related, and also related to the ways in which they are expressed, namely, through alcohol, cheap sex, disgust towards humanity, and peacefulness in the strangest situations-- and of course, Henry Chinaski's inability to hold a job or even have any desire to do so. On one hand, this book is a quick and light read; on the other hand, a close read that keeps in mind the interplay between the different themes involved truly exposes the genius of Bukowski.
Overall, this is a book that for the most part ends where it begins (it begins with Chinaki arriving in New Orleans and "looking for the poor section" and ends in a go-go bar, with Chinaski holding his last 38 cents), but this circularity, i find, is intimate to the theme of futility: why go anywhere? why do anything?
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Henry Martin on November 12, 2007
Format: Paperback
World War II, America and Henry Chinaski. This is Factotum. Charles Bukowski brings his alter ego, Henry Chinaski, back to life in this phenomenal work and with it, he puts himself and society on trial.
A lot, perhaps too much, has been said about Bukowski and his work. While I truly enjoy his short stories the most, Factotum, along with post Office, are among my favorite books written by American authors. Bukowski's writing is simple and straight-to-the-point, and Factotum is no exception. Filled with short, sometimes paragraph-like chapters, the writing flows smoothly, gently sneaking under your skin, and before you know it you start to care and you start to see the world through Chinaski's eyes. A world, which, for the most part, has not improved over the past sixty years. Perhaps his truths are universal. One thing hit me in particular: Chinaski goes to the American Cancer Society, only to be given an appointment three weeks later. He mentions that all his life he has been told to catch cancer early, but when it comes to it, he is told to wait three weeks. Last year I went through pretty much the same thing, only to have to wait for an appointment for over four months. Fortunately, it was not cancer, but if it was...what is the point.
Anyway, back to Factotum. Chinaski, being a "4-F" as he states, was exempt from the draft which left him behind, free to look for a job and settle down. Only the restless soul is incapable of settling down. A struggling writer, (writing several short stories by hand each week, which shows great inspiration and capability) he does not have much else to live for. Submerged in booze, smoking, and having sex, he kills time between odd jobs, while waiting to be discovered. However, this is not the point of the story.
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