Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Post Office by Charles Bukowski

People know that I'm into reading, so I tend to receive a lot of books as gifts. The problem is that gifting a book can be surprisingly difficult. Do I go with a new bestseller and risk giving something bland and mundane? Do I buy a classic that the recipient has most likely already read? Most people seem to opt for the former; one Christmas I received two copies of The Da Vinci Code. For my graduation party (a few weeks ago), people had put in their A-game and brought lots of really interesting books, including Post Office by Charles Bukowski. It might have helped that the party was at a book shop.

Apparently, Post Office is something of a classic, but I had never heard of it before and had stumbled upon Bukowski only in passing. Immediately I was reminded of the song "Bukowski" by Modest Mouse, which has the memorable refrain "Who would want to be such an asshole?". Other than that I had very little idea of who Charles Bukowski might be.

Post Office is one of those books that is probably best read without any preconceived ideas of what it is like. I greatly enjoyed it because it seemed short and non-threatening, a run-of-the-mill post-modern novel with aggressive punctuation and capitalization, an unlikeable main character and an existential crisis. But Bukowski turned out to be the real thing. Post Office is both heartbraking and hilarious, uncomplicated and intricate and it comes at you from many different angles in its relatively short 150 pages.

Initially, I was hoping to write a more in-depth analysis of everything that's going on in Post Office, but once again I'm lacking free time. I had a hard time deciphering whether the tone of the novel reveals the writers true thoughts or if even that is just another piece of his tongue-in-cheek humor. What am I to think of the main character: an uncomely drunk who gets lucky with the ladies and wins bets at horse races, but never manages to find decent work or a place in life. Is Henry Chinaski miserable because Bukowski himself was miserable?

No comments:

Post a Comment