2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Fight the power!!!!,
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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.