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Post Office: A Novel [Paperback]

Charles Bukowski
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (76 customer reviews)

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Book Description

1 Aug 1975
Henry Chinaski is a low life loser with a hand-to-mouth existence. His menial Post Office day job supports a life of beer, one-night stands and racetracks. Lurid, uncompromising and hilarious, Post Office is a landmark in American literature.
--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Product details

  • Paperback: 196 pages
  • Publisher: Black Sparrow Press (1 Aug 1975)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0876850867
  • ISBN-13: 978-0876850862
  • Product Dimensions: 22.9 x 15 x 1.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (76 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,067,863 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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).

Product Description


'Humour, wisdom and the elegance of simplicity come at you in equal measure' -- Bizarre

'One of the funniest books ever written' -- Uncut --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Book Description


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars if honesty really was the best policy... 14 Oct 2010
By Josef K
This book is the story of Henry Chinaski's world. Its deep and compelling individuality is a refreshing change from conventional literary works.

In the post industrial society that I live in I am bombarded every day with signs telling me that things like my trainers, my clothes and my mp3 player are all more than they seem to be. They aren't trainers, they're running down a street alone in misty morning rain, they're fitness and health. Every day I am being sold a way of life and a dream. Reading post office is a welcome reminder that life is not dreams and images floating on screens; it is a place to live, food, drink, independence, sex and friendship.

What sets Post Office apart is the honesty it manages to convey. The thing that's missing is shame, so any good Christians who cling tightly to their shame, their key to heaven, might find Post Office a bit too sensually overwhelming. Chinaski doesn't buy into social morality, he's the model of the man who is in touch with his most basic urges. The prose is familiar and easy to read but nonetheless very clever. It is immediately and intensely ironic, funny and sad.

Bukowski has a wonderful eye for character, if a cynical one. There is a lot of beauty in the book, but not in typical places. Chinaski comes across as a man who is cleverer than everyone around him, but can't move forward because he refuses to make the compromises societies and businesses require.

There's something in this book for anyone with an eye to look and learn. Five stars, but I'd give it more if I could.
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58 of 64 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Classic Bukowski 4 Feb 2006
‘PO’ is Bukowski on top (or should that be bottom?) form. It is a semi-autobiographical account of his time working (or avoiding working) for the US Postal Service, and chronicles his life both at work and at home. Henry Chinaski (Bukowski’s alter ego in many of his books) is the arch-misanthrope, an aggressive alcoholic with no desire to achieve anything other than staying alive and staying drunk. There is no romanticism in his lifestyle: it is unrelentingly visceral and grim. Women are for sex not love, work is about getting paid for doing as little as possible and life is about drinking. Even in his writing he makes no attempt to engage with his readers, who are treated with as much contempt as the rest of the world.
It is difficult to define the attraction of Bukowski, He was clearly not a nice man, and his hero, Chinaski, is not someone you would want to meet. Many aspects of him are downright repugnant, such as when he rapes a mentally ill woman, but there is something fascinating about a life that has given up on any sense of purpose, any desire for better things. Bukowski is the poet laureate for the people who don’t give a damn and, for the rest of us who still care about some things, some of the time, seeing the idea of apathy taken to its extreme is disturbing but mesmerising at the same time. I have read a lot of Bukowski, but ‘PO’ is perhaps the one that sums him up the best. It is full of the ugly side of life, so won’t be to everyone’s taste, but if you are interested by Bukowski, this has to be the one to start with.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Heartbreaking and brilliant...... 10 April 2007
There is a huge amount to be said for writing simplistically. Too many of today's writers allow themselves to become bogged down by elevated language and complex grammatical constructions. If a writer is truly talented, it will show through in the simplest of forms. This book is short, simple and brilliant. Bukowski captures the tedium of working in a low paid, menial job and living hand to mouth. The book is very sad and forces the reader to ask many questions about their own life and life in general. The pity Bukowski evokes for the dog, Picasso, in just a few short words, is genius and heartbreaking. Truly talented writers don't need to hide behind fancy language. Too many books these days seem somehow 'misty' as though we are desperately trying to get to the story through a cloud of linguistic flotsam. This book achieves clarity without trying too hard or attempting to be pretentious.
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars BUY THIS BOOK 23 Jun 2003
This book proves that Bukowski was at his best as a writer when he was down and out. Thankfully for the reader he was mostly down and out during his prolific career, a slave to beer and whiskey and low life friends.
He gave up working for the post office and wrote this book in a matter of days. He had to produce a great book and make some money and he did so by recording his time at the Post Office. Makes you want to give up the day job and do likewise. But who could do the job as well as Buk?
For me, Post Office is Buk's best work along with Ham on Rye, Factotum and the short story collections. Bukowski uses simple language which is understandable to everyone, but there is a deep underlying sense of acceptance of life imprinted in every page. He never asks for pity, although you know he really deserves it.
This novel makes you feel good as when you read it you understand things could be worse. You could be Buk. That said, this novel is far from being depressing, quite the opposite in fact it is at times so amusing you have to put it down and laugh aloud.
If you are feeling hard done by, buy this book and learn how to laugh in the face of failure like the great Bukowski.
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