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Post Office: a Novel [Unknown Binding]

Charles Bukowski
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (72 customer reviews)

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Product details

  • Unknown Binding
  • Publisher: Black Sparrow (1971)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B001OP3UKC
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (72 customer reviews)

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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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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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
This is the first novel narrated by Bukowski's autobiographical alter-ego, Henry Chinaski. Through Chinaski, the writer tells us about the decade leading up to the start of his career as a full-time writer. He spent most of that decade working for the US Postal service.
This novel is a hilarious account of that period. The action switches back-and-forth between one world - that of hard drinking, occasional one-night stands and racetracks - and another - a grim, back-breaking struggle to keep at a job the narrator hates.
Anyone who has ever done menial work for low pay and wondered if they are going mad will recognise Chinaski's world. Few could have brought that world to life with such humour and bitterness all at once as Charles Bukowski.
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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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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars YES !
When the book was finished I felt like a punch ball. What a writer it was
Published 18 hours ago by M. G. A. Sluis
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 4 days ago by Lucy Mitchell
4.0 out of 5 stars real writing
This is a great book. Life ain't all about fiction fantasy and happy endings. I'm a fan of his work and this book has got me hooked!
Published 9 days ago by Mr. S. A. Abdool
4.0 out of 5 stars Quirky, enjoyable read
I found this book took a bit to get in to as the writing style is quite stream of conscienceousness but once I got in to it, I really enjoy it. Read more
Published 18 days ago by J. Morton
4.0 out of 5 stars If I only had the stamina...
Very funny, witty and dark. An uncompromising look at an average existence. I hope my autobiography will read this way.
Published 2 months ago by David Sweeney
5.0 out of 5 stars great Read
never has a seemingly boring job as a postman appeared so interesting. its honest, straight to the point and sad. most importantly it is funny. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Oyetunde Oyebode
4.0 out of 5 stars Fast paced & funny
Typical Bukowski, fast paced, easy read. He uses great humour and has a very beautiful way of expressing the mundane. Truly a great, accessible writer. Read more
Published 4 months ago by niall mobsby
4.0 out of 5 stars Worth reading
Not what I would call great literature, but well worth reading nonetheless. This book provides a sharp insight into some aspects of American life.
Published 5 months ago by Charles
4.0 out of 5 stars Bukowski at his most bucholic
I suppose this is the Bukowski novel you should start with. As always, it's close to the bone. But he's very, very good.
Published 6 months ago by Dominic Uglow
4.0 out of 5 stars Real Life fiction
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It's in the first person and seems to be an auto biography of the author in his forties. I'd love to know how much is real and how much was gloss? Read more
Published 6 months ago by Mr L McEwen
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