Monday, 3 December 2012

Deliver This From Evil

Post Office, by Charles Bukowski, is kind of rough. If we were talking about resistant materials ('woodwork' if you prefer), it would be 'unfinished', that is to say 'not sanded down/polished' etc. Make no mistake, the book's a diamond - just not cut in the usual way ('usual' being a synonym for 'stale'). Take some of the non-standard spelling etc, the sort of 'satire' of conversation, the flitting nature and sometimes random elements with little coherence within the novel (Dave Janko's book, for example) This somehow gives a purity, a rawness and, above all, an energy to the writing.

The main character, Henry Chinaski, is awesome. I say that 'awesome' in the correct way - 'inspiring awe'. I stopped to wonder: is he a decent bloke? Do I hate him because of his sexism/disrespect? Is he a hero for not backing down against another wave of life's mundane tidal wave of crap? Is he a coward for relying too much on the bottle? Well, for those of you who like bland, general understatements, he's a flawed genius (much like the author).

And just to resolve the above 'conflict' a bit further, I think I do like HC. I sympathise with the 'underdog vs life' scenario. I 'get' his use of alcohol as a coping mechanism and somewhat admire his skills as a postman. The gambling and the sexism I mentally sweep under the carpet, as we all do with people we know.

So I really enjoyed the book overall. It was a really quick, easy read, but a lot 'went on' in the narrative. What's more the potency of the writing (like at the end of chapter ten, the summary of Betty's funeral - despite repeating a lot of detail - has this haiku-like punch to it), along with it's clever form (the variation in size of the paragraphs makes the reading, I dunno, more living. Like sometimes a short paragraph reflects a busy period for HC, so it mirrors the fact he doesn't have time to go into more detail), makes it something I'd recommend to almost anyone. For some people it'd be because I like them and appreciate that they like a good, entertaining read. For others, it'd be because they're Lilly-livered, vacuous, moronic, comfort-driven, mother-loving, nice-hot-water-bottle-on-a-mild-day-ing, innocent, modern-music-adoring, rom-com-watching (Sean of the Dead obviously excepted), baby-cuddling, unaware, greeting-card-faced, bubble-bath-drinking, salad-humping, button-nosed, vitamin-taking, tea-sniffing, nipple-grating, sock-washing, trend-following amoeba who need to be shaken up violently like the proverbial bird in its cage.

Oh how I love to shake caged birds... The thought of it gets me all... Ooh...



  1. Hahahah. I love Bukowski. Do I admire his characters? Not really. But not sure you have to. There are things to admire in them, and things to be wary of, as there are in most people. It gives them a realism that I love engaging with.

    Whatever you say about Bukowski - he's misogynistic, he's a stereotype etc. etc. - the one thing you can't deny is HE COULD WRITE.

    "toast for
    breakfast the coffee hot enough you
    know your tongue is still there, three
    geraniums outside a window, trying to be
    red and trying to be pink and trying to be
    geraniums, no wonder sometimes the women
    cry, no wonder the mules don't want
    to go up the hill. are you in a hotel room
    in Detroit looking for a cigarette?"

    "We have wasted history like a bunch of drunks shooting dice back in the men's crapper of the local bar".

  2. Absolutely man, I hope that's something people take from the post.

    Thanks for stopping by, it means a lot :)


Just keep it clean (ish)!