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Ham On Rye: A Novel Paperback – Feb 15 2007


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Ecco; Reprint edition (Feb. 15 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 006117758X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061177583
  • Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 1.7 x 20.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 249 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (104 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #3,535 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

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Charles Bukowski's fourth novel, Ham on Rye, is the semi-autobiographical story of the early years of his alter ego Henry Chinaski. It is a finely written and honest account of the painful childhood of a boy marked out from his peers. Regularly beaten by his father, Chinaski is shown growing through his difficult and violent adolescence (struck with the worst case of acne his doctors have ever seen) through to the first jobs he can't and won't hold down. In this moving story of growing up Bukowski disciplines his muscular, concentrated writing and creates a novel that distils his poetry into the finest full-length piece of prose that he ever wrote. Bukowski is often good but in Ham on Rye he's great.

Sadly, best known as the alcoholic inspiration for the film Barfly (an experience he reflected on in his book Hollywood), it is as a poet, rather than a drunk, that Bukowski should be best remembered. His bitter, caustic, direct, humane, damaged poetry reflects a life dominated by poverty and booze. His poetry stretches over many, many volumes but Bukowski also wrote great novels: all of them have many faults but the first four books he wrote shine for similar reasons. Post Office and Factotum both dissect, quite brilliantly, the life of an angry, poor man forced to do mindless jobs, pushed around and considered mindless by the fools who force him to do them. Women, as Roddy Doyle points out in his short introduction, continues the themes but focuses on the numerous women who share his hero's bed and bottle. --Mark Thwaite --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Review

'Very funny, very sad, and despite its self-congratulatory tone, honest in most of the right places. In many ways, Bukowski may have been the perfect writer to describe post-war southern California - a land of wide, flat spaces with nothing worth seeing, so you might as well vanish into yourself. In an age of conformity, Bukowski wrote about the people nobody wanted to be: the ugly, the selfish, the lonely, the mad.' - The Observer --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By J. Jones on March 2 2006
Format: Paperback
HAM ON RYE is one of my all-time favorite novels. In all of Bukowski's work there is a constant search for truth and freedom. With every breath that Bukowski takes he is locked in a fevered struggle with the forces around him that contiually attempt to make him walk the path of the common man. His writing has been likened to that of McCrae (think, his KATZENJAMMER) and for a good reason: both men have a knack for keen observation, wit, and writing style that knocks you over. But Bukowski sees this “common man path” as nothing more than falling into a lock step towards certain death. Though he portrays himself as a repulsive type of human being, he is able to convince us that it is the world around him that is far more repulsive. In Ham On Rye, we are lead through the more meaningful chapters of Bukowski's childhood and early adulthood. There are very few pieces of literature that reaches readers with more honesty. I plow through Bukowski like I do Cap'n'Crunch. The man inspires drunken poetry on hot summer nights- while talking about women, booze, masturbation, classical music, & horse racing. This book is my new favorite. Why? Because while facinating the reader with lurid tales of a painful and depressing childhood, Bukowski makes us laugh, cry, and feel sorry for that kid we made fun of in 7th grade. If you liked POST OFFICE or McCrae’s KATZENJAMMER, then you’ll love HAM ON RYE as well. All are great, and this novel is the best place to start if you’re new to the BUKOWSKI canon of literature.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By T. Bigney on Jan. 16 2008
Format: Paperback
sure, some might say this book lacks something, but it certainly isn't writing, and i'm not one of the people who thinks it's lacking anything at all. one of the finest books bukowski ever published, tells his story of growing up with an abusive father and a mother who seemed like she didn't really care.

i finished this book in one day, laughing and shaking my head at some of the things bukowski had to go through.

this book is more polished than post office, factotum, et all, and it's still a very fun read.
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Format: Paperback
I didn't know what to expect when I picked up Ham on Rye by Bukowski. I'd read some assorted poems and short stories of his that I found amusing because of their bluntness and coarseness. I found that Ham On Rye was much in the same vein: that is, the story of a non-comformist who has to pay the price in America for not selling out and becoming just another salesman or suit. Bukowski needed to follow his own music. This book is obviously autobiographical, and it depicts his rough and sad childhood: his abusive father who wouldn't cut him any slack, his skin condition that pock-marked his face and made him feel like an outcast, his alienation from school and his classmates, his alienation from most of America and the values America holds most dear: being the "alpha dog," the big "winner." Bukowski in effect is a foreigner in his own land, a socially isolated individual who escapes the cruelty of people by eventually becoming a writer and indulging in drink -- while longing for a poetry that our banal consumer society tries to squash. I love this book. It's an easy-to-read and very personal novel, which would probably be marketed today as a "memoir." I know Bukowski is NOT read in college and that's because he's generally "anti-New Yorker," anti-understatement. He's the John Belushi (think of Pluto in Animal House) of literature. His characters WILL COME OUT TALKING, LIKE THIS!!.. Reading Bukowski is an intimate experience, like reading the work of a friend or watching a friend's home-movie. He's largely a self-taught artist so his work is sometimes rough, sometimes over-the-top, sometimes sloppy -- but always full of humor and always largely entertaining and loads of fun. This is my first Bukowski novel, but it certainly won't be my last!Read more ›
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By A Customer on March 18 2004
Format: Paperback
I didn't know what to expect when I picked up Ham on Rye by Bukowski. I'd read some assorted poems and short stories of his that I found amusing because of their bluntness and coarseness. I found that Ham On Rye was much in the same vein: that is, the story of a non-comformist who has to pay the price in America for not selling out and becoming just another salesman or suit. Bukowski needed to follow his own music. This book is obviously autobiographical, and it depicts his rough and sad childhood: his abusive father who wouldn't cut him any slack, his skin condition that pock-marked his face and made him feel like an outcast, his alienation from school and his classmates, his alienation from most of America and the values America holds most dear: being the "alpha dog," the big "winner." Bukowski in effect is a foreigner in his own land, a socially isolated individual who escapes the cruelty of people by eventually becoming a writer and indulging in drink -- while longing for a poetry that our banal consumer society tries to squash. I love this book. It's an easy-to-read and very personal novel, which would probably be marketed today as a "memoir." I know Bukowski is NOT read in college and that's because he's generally "anti-New Yorker," anti-understatement. He's the John Belushi (think of Pluto in Animal House) of literature. His characters WILL COME OUT TALKING, LIKE THIS!!.. Reading Bukowski is an intimate experience, like reading the work of a friend or watching a friend's home-movie. He's largely a self-taught artist so his work is sometimes rough, sometimes over-the-top, sometimes sloppy -- but always full of humor and always largely entertaining and loads of fun. This is my first Bukowski novel, but it certainly won't be my last!Read more ›
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