#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)