Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Brief Review: Ham on Rye by Charles Bukowski

Ham on RyeHam on Rye by Charles Bukowski
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

An semi-autobiographical story about a boy named Henry Chinaski, Ham on Rye is a series of vignettes about growing up rough. It is raw and unforgivingly real. Its brevity and frankness punch you in the mouth, much like Henry would probably do if you ever met him. Bukowski is a master of transporting the reader into the book. Our protagonist is really kind of an asshole, but you feel terrible for him. He never wins, he never gets better. Growing up for Henry is a series of drinking and fights and losing the few friends he has for some reason or another.

It's hard to say what makes this book so good, but it is eminently hard to put it down, it flows, it dips and dives and jabs. It knocks you in the nose. The minute you think you see the punch coming, it gives you something different. It's a classic for a reason. It's the story of a poor, punk growing up in the 30s and 40s. And when you read it, you realize that things never change all that much. Kids are still kids. The world is still the world. Bukowski saw it for what it was, and then he put it in his book.

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Amazon Link: Ham on Rye: A Novel

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