Alternative Reel

Ham on Rye [1982] Charles Bukowski

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“Gathered around me were the weak instead of the strong, the ugly instead of the beautiful, the losers instead of the winners.” According to Charles Bukowski’s fourth novel, Ham on Rye, he had a miserable childhood courtesy of his father, a sadistic tyrant who regularly beat young “Henry Chinaski” and his mother over the slightest infractions. To make matters worse, Bukowski suffered from a rare skin disorder, diagnosed as acne vulgaris, once he reached his teens. His only refuge was the local public library, where he voraciously devoured the writings of “The Lost Generation” school of American novelists such as Ernest Hemingway (whose later works he despised), Sherwood Anderson and John Dos Passos, as well as the works of European writers, including Dostoyevsky’s Notes from the Underground, Knut Hamsun’s Hunger and Louis-Ferdinand Celine’s Journey to the End of Night. Set in Los Angeles, Ham on Rye was published by Black Sparrow Press.

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