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Ham On Rye [Kindle Edition]

Charles Bukowski
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (313 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $15.99
Kindle Price: $9.43
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Sold by: HarperCollins Publishers

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Book Description

In what is widely hailed as the best of his many novels, Charles Bukowski details the long, lonely years of his own hardscrabble youth in the raw voice of alter ego Henry Chinaski. From a harrowingly cheerless childhood in Germany through acne-riddled high school years and his adolescent discoveries of alcohol, women, and the Los Angeles Public Library's collection of D. H. Lawrence, Ham on Rye offers a crude, brutal, and savagely funny portrait of an outcast's coming-of-age during the desperate days of the Great Depression.

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Editorial Reviews


'Very funny, very sad, and despite its self-congratulatory tone, honest in most of the right places. In many ways, Bukowski may have been the perfect writer to describe post-war southern California - a land of wide, flat spaces with nothing worth seeing, so you might as well vanish into yourself. In an age of conformity, Bukowski wrote about the people nobody wanted to be: the ugly, the selfish, the lonely, the mad.' - The Observer


'Very funny, very sad, and despite its self-congratulatory tone, honest in most of the right places. In many ways, Bukowski may have been the perfect writer to describe post-war southern California - a land of wide, flat spaces with nothing worth seeing, so you might as well vanish into yourself. In an age of conformity, Bukowski wrote about the people nobody wanted to be: the ugly, the selfish, the lonely, the mad.' - The Observer

Product Details

  • File Size: 451 KB
  • Print Length: 298 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0876855575
  • Publisher: Ecco; Reprint edition (October 13, 2009)
  • Sold by: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #20,619 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
91 of 93 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bukowski at his best! November 29, 1999
Most fans of the late, great Charles Bukowski, myself included, list Ham On Rye as their favorite Bukowski novel - and rightfully so. This novel is actually a thinly-veiled autobiography of the man we knew and loved as "The Bard of Booze and Broads." We see through the eyes of young Henry Chinaski as he comes of age in Depression-era America, the product of a dysfunctional and physically abusive household. From his early childhood as a desperately lonely, yet antisocial little boy to his adolescence (where he struggles with crippling acne and develops a love of literature), we see the genesis of a great writer. Bukowski pulls no punches (no pun intended) in his descriptions of abuse suffered at the hands of his father, a coldhearted, arrogant, sadistic SOB. The reader is drawn in to Bukowski's passionate determination to be the exact opposite of what proper society tries to mold its youth into. A powerful and heartbreaking read. Great work, Buk! R.I.P - you will be missed!
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73 of 80 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Growing up Chinaski August 28, 2006
I have been returning to the work of Charles Bukowski (1920 -- 1994) after reading his novel "Factotum" and watching the movie based upon it. Bukowski's novel "Ham on Rye" (1982) is a coming-of age novel in that it tells the story of Bukowski's protagonist, Henry Chinaski, from his birth to his young manhood, ending with the attack on Pearl Harbor. ("Factotum", written in 1978 covers the next period of Chinaski's life, after he has been rejected for the draft and wanders from city to city in search of work.) Chinaski is based loosely on Bukowski's own life; but "Ham on Rye" and Bukowski's other novels are, after all, works of fiction and should be read as such.

The scene of "Ham on Rye" is Los Angeles during the Great Depression, particularly the lower middle-class homes in which Chinaski grows up, as families struggle to survive and to escape from poverty. Bukowski is at his best in describing dingy homes, streets, schools, and desperate people.

But "Ham on Rye" is a coming-of-age book told with irony and twists. It seemingly mocks the story of self-discovery and self-awakening common to these distinctively American books, but in the end I think it follows the pattern of a coming-of-age story in spite of itself. Most American coming-of-age books recount the life of a young person and end when that person comes to some crisis which he meets and, thus, attains a degree of understanding of himself which he carries through life. Bukowski's book tells the story of an unhappy childhood, as Chinaski is subjected to an overbearing father and frequent beatings. In addition, as an early adolescent, Chinaski develops a terrible case of acne which exacerbates his tendency to aloneness as well as his anger and rebeliousness.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars My First Stab at Bukowski October 26, 2005
For years I sold Bukowski's poetry to sad-looking men and the occasional punk-looking (very young) woman. This was in the 1980s and early 1990s. I never took the stuff seriously. Poetry about hangovers and turds? Give me a break.

But when I was introduced to Russell David Harper's manuscript of BALD -- his own ficitional memoir -- and Miha Mazzini's CARTIER PROJECT, I was forced to dig deeper into this phenomenon. (CARTIER is an eastern European Bukowski, and BALD is an intelligent memoir of hangovers.)

HAM ON RYE was my first real Bukowski venture, and I devoured it. It's a sad and moving work. There's not a single metaphor in it; it's to-the-gut writing straight from the heart. I bought my copy dog-eared and coffee-stained in a sidewalk sale in San Francisco, and I'm not letting it go. However, I'm now afraid of digging deeper into Bukowski out of fear of being disappointed. HAM ON RYE has set my expectations unreasonably high.
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23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars HAM ON RYE, The American DEATH ON THE INSTALLMENT PLAN September 19, 1998
By A Customer
In all of Bukowski's work there is a constant search for truth and freedom. With every breath that Bukowski takes he is locked in a fevered struggle with the forces around him that contiually attempt to make him walk the path of the common man. Bukowski sees this as nothing more than falling into a lock step towards certain death. Though he portrays himself as a repulsive type of human being, he is able to convince us that it is the world around him that is far more repulsive. In Ham On Rye, we are lead through the more meaningful chapters of Bukowski's childhood and early adulthood. There are very few pieces of literature that reaches readers with more honesty. As we read Bukowski we may at one moment feel relieved that we do not have to live his life, but in the next moment, are envious of the freedom in which he enjoys. Ham On Rye is one of those extremely rare pieces of fiction that allows a great work of art to simply flow into us. Reading Ham On Rye is simply effortless. It is almost as if it passes directly into us. This is, without a doubt, the most important American novel of the last quarter century. How can the readers of great literature wonder, in horrific despair, with the passing of Salinger, Miller and Bukowski, if a truly great writer will appear in our lifetimes. I, for one, have very little hope, but continue to stand vigilant
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars The backstory of the film "Barfly" with Mickey Rourke and Faye Dunaway
. The character of Henry Chinaski was obnoxious and off putting. After reading this book there is a genuine sorrow that pervades his life. Read more
Published 7 days ago by dvzydeco
5.0 out of 5 stars Great!
My favorite book in the series. It was a quick read and the characters were some of Bukowski best. The fact it was semi-autobiographic makes this book more of a gem! Read more
Published 19 days ago by Kristina Astone
5.0 out of 5 stars great Bukowski
I am working my through Bukoswski's life in a random order, so this book gives insight into his past. I really liked it and it was a quick read.
Published 24 days ago by defendeastwood
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great read, Bukowski is the man.
Published 29 days ago by Matthew
4.0 out of 5 stars Quick, graphic, darkly honest.
Dark, quick read. Full of cynicism and undercurrent of small humor.
Published 29 days ago by Kendall L. Blancett
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow
This book was recommended to me and WOW i did not expect to enjoy it so much. Ham on Rye is my new favorite 'coming of age' novel! Very entertaining to say the least.
Published 1 month ago by Paige
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best books i've ever read
this book is nuts! Definitly Charles Bukowski's greatest work. I've read reviews online about this book and also heard from people that this is his greatest work but I didn't... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Sean
5.0 out of 5 stars The Demon-Infested Bowels of Life
Join me on another trip into the demon-infested bowels of life as told by Charles Bukowski. In truth, Ham on Rye started out as sort of upbeat and positive coming of age tale but... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Michael Fishman
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must READ!!
A Must READ!! One of the best novels I've ever read, it's raw and thats what keeps the story so interesting.
Published 2 months ago by Eileen
5.0 out of 5 stars My favorite writer...
His best novel. Hot water music is his best work in my opinion. Give it a shot. If you like this also read Ask The Dust by John Fonte. Introduction by Charles Bukowski. Enjoy. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Ivan DeJesus Hernandez
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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).

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