Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Overlooked

#6 -- "Women" by Charles Bukowski

I'd never read Bukowski prior to this, a fact that usually prompted the cartoon-style bug-eyed shock. After my Exley re-read last year, I foisted "A Fan's Notes" on a few friends -- they basically responded "eh," and suggested I give old Chuck a try instead.

So the Ski Bum lent me this (and "Ham on Rye"). I was initially pretty put off by the tone -- thinking "Jesus, this guy's horrible" -- but once I got into it, it was a pretty fun read.

The book is less a novel than a collection of strung-together anecdotes, about the poet "Henry Chinaski" and his stream of women. Somehow, a string of flings and one-night stands never becomes too overwhelming or repetitive. It teeters on the misogynistic a lot -- but doesn't really fall over. Perhaps because it's so cartoonish that it's hard to take it completely seriously, partly because Bukowski/Chinaski doesn't take himself too seriously. There's a sly, resigned humor throughout that took me a while to catch on to, but once I did, I enjoyed it qutie a bit.

I see why at first blush, Bukowski gets lumped together with Exley -- both wrote semi-autobiographically, both drank way too much, both laid themselves pretty bare on the page. But Exley's more sad while Bukowski's more badass/funny, and they really aren't that similar. There's room for both on my bookshelf!

(One similarity, though: both make me ponder giving up drinking)

2 comments:

Nanuk of the North said...

I don't even know you and yet I am rendered speechless by your last sentence.

What would you do with your time if you gave up drinking? You could read 100 books per year. You'd be overly-literate and bored silly.

gsdgsd13 said...

That is true. I'd be slender, smarter, and I'd accomplish more -- but I wouldn't be fun to be around!