Some writers you read for adventure or adventure. You pick up a Ludlum or Tolkien novel to be taken on a ride in their imaginary or semi-imaginary roles. They have strong characters fighting great struggles against a definable evil. There is a middle, beginning, and end.
Others you read for personal expression. It is some writer writing an often personal, and often character-driven piece told from a point of view. Imagine Salinger's Catcher in the Rye or Celine's Journey to the End of the Night. When successful, the writer draws you inside the character, the highs, lows, laughs, warts and all. You become Holden Caulfield or whoever the author's character is.
Post Office was Chrles Bukowski's first novel, taking place in early 1960's Los Angeles. he is an alcoholic semi-transient man, who writes on the side. He takes on a job as a postman, and does that without making any real attempt to cut down on his drinking and womanizing.
There isn't a huge point to it. Bukowski relates his experiences falling asleep drunk on people's porches, a despised boss in the mailroom, and his continuing attempts at being a successful novel. There are no huge mea culpas, nothing dramatic, a very loose plot line, if any.
What makes it work is it's dark sense of humor, and it's underlying soul. Bukowski flies in the face of tradition. Tradition says you work hard, you get married, you try to find a house, try to save your money, etc.
While Bukowski's character, Henry Chinaski does work hard at writing, he works as little as he can get away with, he is often drunk, and cares nothing for traditonal security, just living for the next drink or rent check. he does get his heart broken, he does struggle, and it is these struggles that make him an endearing character
Even his writing style is so lean, you don't get any melodramatic flourishes or plot turns. All you get is a slice of Chinaski's life, as you do in most of Bukowsli's books. The overall reward the reader gets is to chuckle at his drunken bufoonery, his sexual mis-adventures amd feel his melancholy at the ultimate powerless ness in the universe. His answer is to write, and to revel in the moment, in whatever bad job, bad woman or whatever cheap liquor is at hand.
In his early books, like Post Office and Factotum he has similar tag line- working bad jobs and trying to make it as a writer. It is sometimes funny, sometimes sad, always endearing, memorable, but perhaps not essential. In Women, he hits his stride when Chinaski achieves some literary success, and mixes with the literati while being the same irresponsible drunk. His relationships have somewhat more depth and the rebellious fish out of water turns the lovable loser into a credible anti-hero.
No great plots or characters besides himself and on or two of his girlfriends, but like all the great character-driven guys, Bukowski takes you to the seedy bars and hotel rooms with him. Post Office is one of the great, colorful character sketches that sets you up for the even darker, funnier, and richer Women.
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"It began as a mistake." By middle age, Henry Chinaski has lost more than twelve years of his life to the U.S. Postal Service. In a world where his three true, bitter pleasures are women, booze, and racetrack betting, he somehow drags his hangover out of bed every dawn to lug waterlogged mailbags up mud-soaked mountains, outsmart vicious guard dogs, and pray to survive the day-to-day trials of sadistic bosses and certifiable coworkers. This classic 1971 novel—the one that catapulted its author to national fame—is the perfect introduction to the grimly hysterical world of legendary writer, poet, and Dirty Old Man Charles Bukowski and his fictional alter ego, Chinaski.
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).