Ham on Rye, by Charles Bukowski

a book review by
Bukowski books only last me a few days. I can't stop reading them. It's almost annoying to be so easily engrossed. I can't help it. It's fucked. I hate it. I love it.

Never before reading Ham on Rye could I imagine Charles Bukowski as a child. With his psychotic father and his terrible mother. And acne so bad at age 15 he needed to go to the hospital. The horror!

Aha. So that's why he was so pock-marked. I thought those blotches on his face were liver spots from drinking thousands of bottles of cheap whiskey too many. But they were actually acne and boil scars. And maybe that's why Bukowski loved to fight so much - the only human contact he ever got as a kid were from belt lashes, body blows, and uppercuts.


The rest of Bukowski's books all seem to make more sense after you read this one. Maybe because it's the story of his childhood in the 1930's and 1940's. Devoid of love. Ham on Rye is clearly not about sandwiches. It's about a kid never geting laid, drinking too much, and then fighting with his dorky misfit Nazi sympathizing friends.

When high school finally ends, Bukowski works at Sears. But he gets fired for getting beat up on the rooftop parking lot. Then things go downhill fast. But despite his faults he is supremely literary, so we love him anyway. Even though we probably wouldn't have wanted to hang out with him a whole lot.