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Ham on Rye: A Novel Paperback – February 27, 2007
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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 1920 in Andernach, Germany, to an American soldier father and a German mother, and brought to the United States at the age of two. He was raised in Los Angeles and lived there for over fifty years. He died in San Pedro, California, on March 9, 1994, at the age of seventy-three, shortly after completing his last novel, Pulp.
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
I disliked Henry Chinaski because, in my mind, he felt real like a lot of the characters I had loved in my favorite books, but instead of having a glowing outlook on life despite setbacks he just let it fester inside him and make him bitter, and I ended up resenting Chinaski for most of his personality (he comes off as a chauvanistic, alcoholic, bitter prick to be completely frank). That coupled with the fact that it seemed as though he was parading around how bad his childhood was because he was poor, had bad acne, etc it started to feel like a pissing contest with no one in particular in mind. But the more I thought about it and dissected him, there were portions of that personality I loved that would peek out from under the foil of a disenchanted youth, angry at the world. There's an odd sort of humanity in Chinaski, and it's very unique to this novel.
This book is also very funny, if you don't take it (or yourself) too seriously. I don't know that Bukowski meant it to be humorous in a satirical or ironic sense, but if you don't internalize the things Chinaski thinks, says, or does, and just take them at face value in context of the rest of his personality, it actually is quite funny. But be forewarned, if you are offended easily you should turn back now. I have yet to check out Bukowski's poetry, but I think I will now that I reflect on this novel.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
As for me, this writing explore to me some characters of my parents, some other point of view at their treatments in my childhood, because I thought everything was ok at that time. Read morePublished 5 days ago by Amazon Customer
I start reading online and I end up buying it ,because his writing so great and unique. He one in kind , you can see all the passion he put in his writings and special this one he... Read morePublished 10 days ago by bryan
Loved it! What a testimony to growing up during the Depression. The characters are real. Bukowski is real. Read morePublished 21 days ago by C.Consumer
"I have noticed that both in the very poor and very rich extremes of society the mad were often allowed to mingle freely. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Troy J. Grice
To start reading Bukowski and understand you must start here.Published 2 months ago by voracious reader
What can I say? I'm a diehard Bukowski fan and this is, in my estimation, the author at his best -- as a novelist anyway. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Thomas Dunnam
Charles Bukowski never disappoints. I buy his books on Amazon two at a time so I can turn a friend on to Henry Chinaski..Published 2 months ago by Larry Scarano