3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: Ham On Rye (Paperback)
Ham on Rye (HOR) is a semi-autobiographical tale, written in the first person, and describing the 'rite of passage' of Bukowski's antihero "Hank Chinaski". HOR is similar in many ways to Catcher in the Rye, however unlike Salingers' protagonist Holden Caulfield, the deep depression and feelings of alienation and existential anxt experienced by Hank Chinaski are provoked by genuinely difficult circumstances. Hank is raised in a poor small town American family during the 30s depression. Suffering abuse from a sadistic father and school bullies, Hank spends hours in contemplation, reading widely and thinking of becoming a writer. Disfiguring skin boils and acne compound Hanks' predicament, leaving him unsuccessful with women, bitter, isolated, and turning to the bottle.
Hank is used as a mouthpiece to discuss the authors distaste for overly elaborate prose, and it is clear that Bukowski was trying to do something new with this novel. The prose of HOR is concise and uncomplicated, and this strengthens the clarity and emotional impact of the book, generating a palpable sense of Hanks' alienation and emotional turmoil. A friend commented on the fact that all the women in this novel are floored, pathetic and week minded characters, but so far as I can tell Bukowski is not misogynistic but universally misanthropic.
Depressing, angry, bitter, and with a cynical view of the human condition, this is my first Bukowski novel but I'll definitely be coming back for more.