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Saturday, January 19, 2013

"Post Office", working-class Bukowski

Post Office- Charles Bukowski

A warning: don't read this if you are struggling with your job. Although it could help you to have the g_ _ _  to call it a day, to put it nicely.

"It began as a mistake", the novel begins. A mistake that went on for more than twelve years, on which Charles Bukowski, through the adventures of his alter-ego Henry Chinaski, shows how he became a slave to the wage, like the 99% of us (we all also know who the vile and corrupted remaining 1% are, but that should go on another post), at the U.S. Postal Service.

Sure, If you have read Bukowski previously, you'll find little to be surprised here. There's booze, horses, women and the grim, raw and let's face it, quite funny prose that is so quintessential of this writer. But besides the (always highly recommendable) Hank-by-numbers, "Post Office" offers something else, something more. A deformed, close to the grotesque if you want, but also a very clear mirror in which the majority of us can reflect his/her image.

Because this novel is truly a treaty, written in Bukowski's unique "knockout style", of how jobs ruins and finally ends killing something inside of us. Chinaski is defeated by routine, by boredom, by plain stupidity, by soul-killing workplaces and mind-numbing strategies created just for the sake of having a higher rate on efficiency while decreasing his level of self-stem. Does it sound familiar to you? I bet it does.

At the same time, though, some people need a daily work not to throw himself/herself from a window, or starts a life of self-destruction. It's a contradiction wonderfully portrayed on "Post Office", being an unsuspected deep analysis of the most mundane, zero glamour, life miseries. It's a poignant "I hate my job" tale, but also a "I need to do something with my life" story, one on which Chinaski constantly seeks company (this book is not really about sex, but about not being alone, there's an intriguing sadness on his perspective on relations here) as much as he needs booze. And despite Chinaski is the perfect example of the anti-hero, in "Post Office" he wins. He says "that's enough", looking towards starting a new chapter on his life.

Like John and Dan Fante (add Carver, Wolff and to some extent Richard Yates), Bukowski is able to say a lot of things to readers without what it seems that much (on the surface). He is just worried of telling the truth (of course, his truth). There's no point in mannerisms, affectations or sentimentalism, because he didn't write to impress you. He wrote about what he cared and what he knew best than anyone else, his life. And he was just interested in telling it like it was. All I can say is thank you Hank.

SCORE: 7,25/10

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