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31 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pick Up A Copy!
Just picked up Factotum by Bukowski, after reading The Losers Club by Richard Perez. Strange 'cause both books are somehow related. The connection? The drudgery of menial work! The dehumanizing affects of a life-wasting occupation is an underlying theme, mixed with accounts of failed relationships and an overall freefloating narrative structure. In Factotum, Buk recounts...
Published on 28 July 2004

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0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An evocation of the glamour of cross-country US travel
A comfortable read - this book will satisfy everybody bar those with the feeblest of attention spans - the seedy glamour of life on the road in America is evoked well.
Proceeding from one menial job to another - and, inevitably, one bar and one race track and one brothel to another, Henry Chinaski somehow makes ends meet, thanks to a cheerfully amoral outlook and...
Published on 29 April 1999


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31 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pick Up A Copy!, 28 July 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: Factotum (Paperback)
Just picked up Factotum by Bukowski, after reading The Losers Club by Richard Perez. Strange 'cause both books are somehow related. The connection? The drudgery of menial work! The dehumanizing affects of a life-wasting occupation is an underlying theme, mixed with accounts of failed relationships and an overall freefloating narrative structure. In Factotum, Buk recounts his mostly autobiographical adventures as a floating unemployed (and often unemployable) menial worker. He travels from state to state, writing and collecting rejection letters from magazines, and tries to deal with the unending humiliation of low-paying jobs and rat-trap apartments and fragile relationships. Often, he ends up hitting the bottle and, in bars, ends up meeting up with fellow drunks and losers and desperate ladies struggling to scrape by. There's humor here but also a lot of truth, some it stark and grim. One line that blew me away, gave me chills was: "Ain't no women on skid row." This was over Chinaski's anxiety regarding a female drinking companion. The style of the book is simple and easy and direct, and I found myself sucked into it right away. A child could read this book. I also read the whole book in one day, which for me is a first. Definitely pick up a copy of this novel. It's not as famous as his other novels, but as a memorable account/study of a "working stiff," worth owning, especially if you like Buk and his "down and out" view of life and appreciate his humor.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Grimly brilliant, brilliantly grim, 17 Nov 2005
By 
John Ault (Edinburgh, Scotland) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Factotum (Paperback)
This book is not uplifting. Bukowski pulls no punches in his description of a writer fighting for success, while fighting a losing battle against his own demons and apathy. Simply can't believe someone turned this into a film. Bukowski simply has to be read as a great American writer, shining a light on a part of America in the twentieth century that is not often looked at. His style is economical and fast paced, and you swiftly get drawn into a tale of characters doing really very little except messing up their lives. Don't read it when your down and alone.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars flowing, torrid, humourous, shocking, insightful., 29 Jun 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Factotum (Paperback)
Another book from Bukowski about his alter-ego Hank Chinaski. The semi-biographical stories and encounters of the protagonist are short, sharp and acerbic. The stream-of-conciousness thoughts are reminiscient of Holden Caulfield's own, however the writing is not as refined.
As Hank drifts through a depressingly-set America, he comes across all manner of drunks, prostitutes, reprobates and over-enthused bosses. Chinaski is apathetic, alcoholic and amoral. America is uncaring, unthinking and unsettled. They encounter each other with negative results. It's almost like several short stories woven into a novel with amazing ease.
Although Hank Chinaski is the antithesis of any 'do-gooder', I couldn't help but sympathise for this anti-hero. When you realise it's basically the life story of the author, you feel different.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Factotum, 31 Aug 2013
By 
Robin Friedman (Washington, D.C. United States) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Factotum (Paperback)
Charles Bukowski (1920-1994) was an underground writer of poems stories, and novels who has exerted a fascination over me for many years. He is best known for his portrayals of the shabby, dingy side of Los Angeles. His reputation has grown subsequently to his death. Many of his works originally were published by a small publishing house, Black Sparrow Press which specialized in unusual writers, A few years ago, Black Sparrow was purchased by a HarperCollins which continues to maintain Bukowski's works in print and to publish posthumous works.

This reprint of "Factotum" was released by HarperCollins this month to capitalize on the movie version of Factotum. I read it eagerly in anticipation of seeing the movie, which premiered at independent film festivals before its commercial release. Earlier Bukowski movies include "Barfly" (1987) and the documentary "Bukowski: Born into This" (2004).

Factotum (1975)is Bukowski's second novel, and its main character is Bukowski's alter ego, named Henry Chinaski. The word 'factotum" means "A person having many diverse activities or responsibilities" or "a general servant". These definitions, particularly the second, capture much of the spirit of the novel. Chinaski is a young man, down and out, who has been rejected for the draft during WW II. In short, fast-moving chapters, the novel chronicles Chinaski's search for work crossing back and forth throughout the United States.

The novel is gritty, raw and tough. Chinaski is hardly a hero as he loses one dead-end job after another and throws away the few possible opportunities that come his way. Chinaski is solitary and anti-social. He drinks heavily and plays the horses. He takes up with women and generally drops them as quickly as he meets them. He leads the life of a drifter, loner, and outsider.

Without prelude or introduction, the book opens as Chinaski arrives "in New Orleans in the rain at 5"o'clock in the morning" and is quickly accosted by "a high yellow sitting on the porch steps swinging her legs". He goes through a series of jobs and shabby hotels before embarking on a journey that takes him to Texas, Los Angeles, his hometown, New York City, Philadelphia, St Louis and, finally back to Los Angeles. At the end, we see Chinaski, frustrated and angry fantasizing over a dancer in a burlesque house.

Chinaski loses a litany of jobs, including working as a janitor, window washer, shipping clerk, baker's helper, assistant in a dog biscuit factory, and similar ventures. He either quits, or, more often, is fired for absenteeism, attitude, fighting, and drinking. He has affairs with a variety of women, the most prominent of whom in this book is Jan, with whom he has an on again off again relationship punctuated by alcohol, horseracing, fighting, and Jan's affairs with other men.

Chinaski is an aspiring writer, when he is not drinking or otherwise occupied, and the book includes a scene in which a short story is accepted for publication. Writing and reflection are used, as is so often the case, as a way to understand and distance oneself from a shabby, difficult life. There are many lively, funny scenes in Factotum. Chinaski does not ask for sympathy and gives none. The story is toughly and unapologetically told. The book gives the impression of an individual deeply down on himself and on others who sees himself as fighting and carrying on simply to live his life for what it is.

Bukowski is a vulgar, raw author who will not appeal to everyone. But I continue to be taken with him and with Factotum. The book exerts a pull that I can't shake off.

Robin Friedman
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fight the power!!!!, 26 Aug 2013
By 
Joao Cardeira Jorge "A Bad Man" (Lisbon, Portugal) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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This review is from: Factotum (Paperback)
"Factotum" is an extraordinary novel which embodies both comedy and tragedy and offers a portrait of a truly magnificent and complex character and a past, somewhat forgotten age. Set during the ending of WW2 and the post war America, "Factotum" chronicles the life of Henry Chinaski, Charles Bukowski's alter ego. Chinaski is the complete anti-hero. He's a loser but because he choses to be. Chinaski loses by default, on his terms. If one does not fight he can never truly be defeated. Chinaski goes from a horrible job to the next, drinking as much as he can afford and going from one dysfunctional relationship to another. He's a rebel but one that surrenders before the revolution even starts. He comes dangerously close to nihilism but deep down Chinaski has beliefs. He hates "the man". He hates how the poor and helpless are mercilessly exploited and used as tools for "a pitiful buck and a quarter an hour". He admits defeat, he knows things will never change and he even knows he must play the "game" but what I found to be honorable and even heroic is that he never compromises. He plays by his own rules with complete disregard for the consequences. And when the time comes he faces it like a man! Henry Chinaski just doesn't give a damn and I deeply respect him for that!
Bukowski's writing style is raw and brutal. He's dirty and disgusting and very graphic. He writes with a very appealing, dry wit and with a beautiful simplicity that makes his prose addicting to read. The book is divided into small chapters, each of them almost short-stories dealing with women, alcoholism and of course the odyssey of jobs from where Chinaski keeps getting fired. There's no Chinaski without women and booze but unlike other Bukowski novels, "Factotum"'s goal is to paint a portrait of its time and how the desperate men and women of the working class were (still are?) used as a cheap disposable and unlimited resource in the service of capital. Between all the Chinaski drunken antics and failed romances and cheap sex there's a sense of gloom and tragedy and even dehumanization in every page. The brilliance of Bukowski is how he mixes both comedy and pain and manages to insert Chinaski's black humor in even the darkest moments of human misery and desolate existence.
"Factotum" is moving, thought provoking, sleazy and glorious. Its funny and sad or better yet, sad in a funny way! I wish I could have a whiskey with Henry Chinaski. Even one of those cheap ones you get at a crummy bar with your last dollar when you're down on your luck and had a really lousy day. Which I guess is always! At least for Hank Chinaski.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another excellent book, 19 July 2013
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This review is from: Factotum (Paperback)
I read Post Office and loved Charles' style of writing and candid way of describing his life so I couldn't wait to read this one. He holds nothing back and just tells things as they were, including what he was thinking at the time. You must remember though that this was written a long time ago before people became more aware that sexism and racism was not acceptable, and so to some might not be such a good read. Though for anyone who loves the Beat Generation and has read Burroughs and Kerouac this is a great read written in a similar style.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Better than Post Office!, 4 Jun 2013
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This review is from: Factotum (Paperback)
I am enjoying this book so much it almost defies words. Charles Bukowski has very quickly become my favourite author and I think his shocking and fascinating use of the 'gritty realism' style has and will be influencing my own writing. An incredibly interesting tale of the mundane man that somehow puts you in his place and keeps you locked into the story, a real page-turner. This is the kind of book that if you lose track of it you will turn your room upside down to find it again (even if it turns out afterwards you just left it downstairs). A great read, incredible man, though I'd recommend checking out Post Office first, get more of a feel for the character in the right order.

I'd also recommend Bukowski's poetry collection 'Love is a Dog from Hell'.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A stunning description of being down and out in America., 3 Nov 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Factotum (Paperback)
Bukowski, in just 200 pages, encapsulates everything that can go wrong in one persons life, especially if the centre of that life is alcohol. Moving from one wasted beggining to another, the highly autobiographical character, Henry Chianski, begings the slow descent first chronicled in 'Post Office', set some thrty years after, this is a form of prequal. The novels tag-line sums the entire book up, "When you drink, the world is still out their, but for the moment, it do'sent have you by the throat". A modern classic.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The writing alone will jerk you up and slam you down - hard!, 7 Nov 2001
This review is from: Factotum (Paperback)
Bukowski's language is among the most powerful you will ever read. Bukowski pounds. His sentences are compact, his grammar tough. His stories always raw-honest. Entirely original. They hit you hard like a charging rhino. Whether they are woven into a novel or not. They are always charged with emotion. Buy this. Buy all Bukoswki. You will never read anything like him. But be prepared to hit the bottle mid-read. He can drink. And he wants you to drink too.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the greatest satire on blue collar life, 9 Oct 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Factotum (Paperback)
People read Charles Bukowski for two reasons: to live vicarious, and; to feel better about who they are as individuals (the latter accenting the former). Chinaski is the alter ego of Kid Stardust, who is the non de plume of ....
"Factotum" begins a touch slow, with a drawn-out account of Henry meeting an older rich man and partying with his girls; hereafter is where the endless slew of dog jobs begin, and his experiences with the staff. Not totally unlike "Post Office" this text explores other horrific minimum-wage pit stops; material handlers for markets and art stores; security for hotels; inspection for gaskets at factories. I very much relate to the anxiety, hopelessness and comedy that complements these exploitive jobs.
Strong supporting cast comes from Old Grandad, Pabst and Brahm. This is just as great as "Women." Attn: MEN: Please do yourself a favor and DO NOT ask your parents OR your conservative girlfriend to read "Factotum." You will only cause grief and unnecessary discussions. Be comfortable with and guard your guilty pleasures.
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Factotum by Charles Bukowski (Paperback - 5 Feb 2009)
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