Archive for the ‘Charles Bukowski’ Category

Ham on Rye [1982] Charles Bukowski

October 16, 2015

“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.

Charles Bukowski Quotes

October 10, 2015

“I was a man who thrived on solitude; without it I was like another man without food or water. Each day without solitude weakened me. I took no pride in my solitude; but I was dependent on it. The darkness of the room was like sunlight to me.” – Factotum, 1975

“God or somebody keeps creating women and tossing them out on the streets, and this one’s ass is too big and that one’s tits are too small, and this one is mad and that one is crazy and that one is a religionist and that one reads tea leaves and this one can’t control her farts, and that one has this big nose, and that one has boney legs . . . But now and then, a woman walks up, full blossom, a woman just bursting out of her dress . . . a sex creature, a curse, the end of it all.” – Post Office, 1971

“I had come off a long drinking bout during which time I had lost my petty job, my room, and (perhaps) my mind. After sleeping the night in an alley I vomited in the sunlight, waited five minutes, then finished the remainder of the wine bottle that I found in my coat pocket. I began walking through the city, quite without purpose. When I was walking I felt as if I had some portion of the meaning of things. Of course, it was untrue. But standing in an alley hardly helped either. I walked for some time, scarcely aware. I was vaguely considering the fascination of starving to death. I only wanted a place to lie down and wait. I didn’t feel any rancor against society because I didn’t belong in it. I had long ago adjusted to that fact.” – “Animal Crackers in My Soup,” Tales of Ordinary Madness, 1983

“That was the trouble with being a writer, that was the main trouble—leisure time, excessive leisure time. You had to wait around for the buildup until you could write and while you were waiting you went crazy, and while you were going crazy you drank and the more you drank the crazier you got. There was nothing glorious about the life of a writer or the life of a drinker.” – “900 Pounds,” Hot Water Music, 1983

“I made practice runs down to skid row to get ready for my future. I didn’t like what I saw down there. Those men and women had no special daring or brilliance. They wanted what everybody else wanted. There were also some obvious mental cases down there who were allowed to walk the streets undisturbed. I had noticed that both in the very poor and very rich extremes of society the mad were often allowed to mingle freely. I knew that I wasn’t entirely sane. I still knew, as I had as a child, that there was something strange about myself. I felt as if I were destined to be a murderer, a bank robber, a saint, a rapist, a monk, a hermit. I needed an isolated place to hide. Skid row was disgusting. The life of the sane, average man was dull, worse than death. There seemed to be no possible alternative. Education also seemed to be a trap. The little education I had allowed myself had made me more suspicious. What were doctors, lawyers, scientists? They were just men who allowed themselves to be deprived of their freedom to think and act as individuals. I went back to my shack and drank . . .” – Ham on Rye, 1982

“It had been the same for as long as I could remember: turn on the radio to a classical music station, light a cigarette or a cigar, open the bottle. The typer did the rest. All I had to do was be there. The whole process allowed me to continue when life itself offered very little, when life itself was a horror show. There was always the typer to soothe me, to talk to me, to entertain me, to save my ass. Basically, that’s why I wrote: to save my ass, to save my ass from the madhouse, from the streets, from myself.” – Hollywood, 1989

“. . . out of a background of factories, park benches, two-bit jobs, bad women, bad weather of Life—the reason the average person is at the track is that they are driven screwy by the turn of the bolt, the foreman’s insane face, the landlord’s hand, the lover’s dead sex; taxation, cancer, the blues; clothes that fall apart on a 3rd wearing, water that tastes like piss, doctors that run assembly-line and indecent offices, hospitals without heart, politicians with skulls filled with pus . . . we can go on and on but would only be accused of being bitter and demented, but the world makes madmen (and women) of us all, and even the saints are demented, nothing is saved. so shit. well. according to my figures I’ve only had 2500 pieces of ass but I’ve watched 12,500 horse races, and if I have any advice to anybody it’s this: take up watercolor painting.” – Notes of a Dirty Old Man, 1969

“Each morning, down at work, we would be sick . . . it was our private joke. Each night we would get drunk again. What is a poor man to do? The girls don’t search out the common laborers; the girls search out the doctors, the scientists, the lawyers, the businessmen, so forth. We get the girls when they are through with the girls, and they are no longer girls—we get the used, the deformed, the diseased, the mad. After a while, instead of taking seconds and thirds and fourths, you give it up. Or you try to give it up. Drinking helps.” – “A Drinking Partner,” – The Most Beautiful Woman in Town & Other Stories, 1983

“The human race had always disgusted me. Essentially, what made them disgusting was the family-relationship illness, which included marriage, exchange of power and aid, which like a sore, a leprosy, became then: your next door neighbor, your neighborhood, your district, your city, your county, your state, your nation . . . everybody grabbing each other’s assholes in the honeycomb of survival out of a fear-animalistic stupidity.” – “The Great Zen Wedding,” Tales of Ordinary Madness, 1983

“I am for the small man who has not forgotten, for the man who loves his beer and his women and his sunlight but who is not quite wise enough (ever) to know where next month’s rent is coming from.”
— Letter to Jon and Louise Webb, December 25, 1964, Living on Luck: Selected Letters 1960s-1970s, Volume 2, 1995


Beer Shit

October 8, 2015

“There was nothing really as glorious as a good beer shit—I mean after drinking twenty or twenty-five beers the night before. The odor of a beer shit like that spread all around and stayed for a good hour-and-a-half. It made you realize that you were really alive.” —Charles Bukowski, Ham on Rye, 1982