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Factotum

3.96  ·  Rating Details  ·  34,639 Ratings  ·  1,016 Reviews
One of Charles Bukowski's best, this beer-soaked, deliciously degenerate novel follows the wanderings of aspiring writer Henry Chinaski across World War II-era America. Deferred from military service, Chinaski travels from city to city, moving listlessly from one odd job to another, always needing money but never badly enough to keep a job. His day-to-day existence spirals ...more
Paperback, 264 pages
Published 2004 by Polirom (first published 1975)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Joshua Nomen-Mutatio
I have a sort of pre-emptive dislike-verging-on-loathing of Bukowski, which I think is rooted in my post-adolescent rejection of and disillusionment with the Beat writers (whom I absolutely adored in high school). I’ve never read Bukowski before, but I’ve seen Barfly and Factotum on the screen. I’ve seen two documentaries about him which likewise left me more disgusted and depressed than anything. This is where I’m coming from. There’s also this song that aided in informing me about the man.

One
...more
Rohisa
I am going to give this book another chance and join in on another trip into the demon-infested bowels of life as told by Charles Bukowski.

Before I go, I'd like to make a point. I don’t understand the people who claim to “love” Bukowski and no offense to them, they probably know a lot more than I do, but I wonder if they understand or know him. Maybe I’m wrong, but I don’t think Bukowski wrote to be loved and I don’t think he really cared one way or another if we loved him and he might have lau
...more
Madeleine
There were times while reading this short novel that I had to stop and wonder if my aspiration to one day be the female Bukowski is either setting my sights too high or placing the bar too low.

And then I up and went to a bar, since I was reading this on the anniversary of the Dirtiest Old Man in Literature's passing and all, so I stopped worrying about pretty much everything. YOU'RE STILL MY BOY, BUK.
Printable Tire
Having read two of Bukowski's books now, I've decided he's for two types of people: psuedo-intelectual masochists that want to slum a little and more genuine people that live very histrionic if arrogant and introverted lives. I can’t get over how conceited Bukowski is, how conceited his books and intentions are, or the way he treats his audience. I guess he’s sort of a modern day Oscar Wilde or Elephant Man, but reading his books gives me the impression that most people that read him think the j ...more
P.F. Chang
Oct 01, 2009 P.F. Chang rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
people like talking shit about charles bukowski on goodreads, it seems funny.

i liked this book a lot. henry chinaski is an asshole but he knows he's an asshole and simply accepts being an asshole. everything seems detached and transient, nothing really matters to him, life is just this "thing that is happening" which he feels powerless to, so he doesn't invest much emotion in the things he feels like he needs to do to stay alive, and drinks to avoid feelings of alienation. i laughed out loud sev
...more
Brian
Apr 17, 2014 Brian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Brian by: Ned Mozier

"What kind of job you looking for?"
"Stockboy, shipping clerk, janitor."


The denizens of Bukowski's fictional world encompass the marginalized chaff of mid-20thcentury America. Barely a step ahead of abject vagrancy, Bukowski's protagonist and alter-ego Henry Chinaski is the everyman of the most base of our species comfortable asking the bare minimum of this world.

When you drank the world was still out there, but for the moment it didn't have you by the throat.

Chinaski's story isn't pretty, bu
...more
Cody
Jul 19, 2007 Cody rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Bukowski holds a strange attraction for me. I suppose reading his novels and short stories is something like staring at a car crash or returning to the scene of the crime: I just can't help it. There is a primitive, visceral draw. I have yet to read a Bukowski novel that I consider great. Factotum does come close, but its moments of brilliance are weighed down by excessive machismo and male posturing. Still, I can't say I regret reading it, and I know I will read Bukowski again.
Taylor
This is the first Bukowski novel I read - I chose it because the movie version was coming out, and I wanted to read the book first.

As a first Bukowski novel, it's a wise choice, because it's a quick read. I blew through it in 2-3 days. It's a very conflicting book, because in some regards it's depressing to see how he lived, what his relationships were like, but on other levels, it's inspiring, because he was so dirt poor and bounced around from job to job, but was able to support himself and hi
...more
Michael Oliver
Jan 22, 2008 Michael Oliver rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: mine enemies
What a piece of shit. Chuck Buck prides himself as a worthless human filled with anger and bitterness towards all his fellow men. He has no respect for women or anyone else for that matter, and drinks himself into a state of absolute despair just so he can write about his depressive life in order to persuade the rest of the public to feel better about themselves (I assume). Bile. Waste. A foul excuse for contemporary literature- it's more like contemptuous literature. I'm embarrassed his writing ...more
Michael
Mar 01, 2013 Michael rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Michael by: Violet
A perpetually unemployed alcoholic. Henry Chinaski drifts through the seedy city streets of lower-class LA in search of a job. Factotum takes place in 1944 and follows the life of Chinaski in his search for a job that will not separate him from his writing. He is consistently rejected by the only publishing house he respects but he is driven by the knowledge that he could do better than the authors they publish.

When they call Charles Bukowski’s Factotum a beer-soaked, deliciously degenerate nove
...more
Lawnzilla
Jul 19, 2012 Lawnzilla rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
My first Bukowski novel... couldn't put it down. I find myself relating so much to Henry Chinaski. His manias, his phobias, his inept attempts at becoming a functioning member of society that lead him to realize he truly wasn't a man meant for this world... I find such comfort in his distressing words.

"The bus ran along a very narrow strip of cement that stood up out of the water with no guard-rail, no nothing; that's all there was to it. The bus driver leaned back and we roared along over this
...more
Scott
Nov 21, 2008 Scott rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Working sucks. So does changing jobs all the time. Have a drink. The humor interspersed with the transience and violence is hilarious.
Adam
Jan 14, 2014 Adam rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1970-present, prose
Reminded of the book and what I've copy-pasted below by a comment a short while ago on this wonderful review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show.... I haven't read this entire thing in probably three years or so, but a short search unveiled my dusty copy in a vile corner of my closet, lying next to an Enid Blyton book I nostalgically bought at a used bookstore once but never read. Reread about 40 pages of Factotum and gave up before I threw up. So what follows is just a comment I posted on th ...more
Cwn_annwn_13
Apr 20, 2009 Cwn_annwn_13 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is pretty typical Bukowski. As with most of what he wrote its supposed to be loosely based on his real life experiences. If you can get beyond his annoying habit of trying to convince you of how tough he is and exagerrating if not out and out lying about the frequency of his sexual encounters and the quality of the women involved then its a good quick read for a laugh. The best stuff in this is his humorous accounts of working various disposable menial jobs. Bukowski is very funny, a fact w ...more
Jonny Gibbings
Apr 21, 2013 Jonny Gibbings rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
You know, don't know what the fuss is about. Maybe it is me, maybe it was all the hype, but, I thought it Factotum was crap. For the record, I am no intellectual, I am not of the thinking it has to be hard to read to be good, but, for me, Factotum read like it was written by a 15 year old trying to imagine what a hard drinking womaniser would be like.

There was no depth, flimsy characters that the author paints a vague suggestion of, bouncing form job to job - each is brief but lacking. The tale
...more
Sarah
Mar 15, 2012 Sarah rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book confirmed for me that Bukowski only tells the one story. That one story generally takes the form of several of the same stories over again, with different surroundings and characters. This book is about many of the jobs Chinaski works in between drinking, writing, and screwing. Women, on the other hand, is about the many women he screws in between drinking and writing. There may be a greater thread of illumination I am missing, but that's all I have to say about it.

This is not to say
...more
Mike Lester
Dec 15, 2014 Mike Lester rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Factotum. I must confess I wasn't familiar with the word until I read this book a few years back, but once I knew the meaning, I had to read the book. This may be one of the most honest portrayals of living life under the radar I've ever read. Having worked a variety of jobs myself, often stultifying, never fulfilling, Bukowski's book was a constant reminder of the degree of dignity that must be surrendered in order to survive on a daily basis. If you ever find yourself in a job where you have t ...more
Zach
Jan 14, 2012 Zach rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: hard-fiction
What Catcher in the Rye would have been if Holden grew a set. Excellent narrative that peers into the nature of a directionless young adult who finds sanity at the bottom of a bottle. Bukowski brilliantly penned this tale of a mans personal impotence who drifts aimlessly through a multitude of employment opportunities. He wanders much, cares for little, and drinks all.
Henry Martin
World War II, America and Henry Chinaski. This is Factotum. Charles Bukowski brings his alter ego, Henry Chinaski, back to life in this phenomenal work and with it, he puts himself and society on trial.
A lot, perhaps too much, has been said about Bukowski and his work. While I truly enjoy his short stories the most, Factotum, along with post Office, are among my favorite books written by American authors. Bukowski's writing is simple and straight-to-the-point, and Factotum is no exception. Fille
...more
Abhinav
Hmmm. So finally I managed to finish reading my first book by Charles Bukowski, and I really don't know what to say. And yet, I'm gonna use this space to say what I want to.

Henry 'Hank' Chinaski (supposedly Bukowski's fictional alter-ego) is an aspiring writer & the protagonist of this novel. His life revolves around three things - women, drink & jobs. And he can't stick to just one either, switching from one to another so fast that it's pointless to keep count.

Bukowski's prose is absolu
...more
Roya Shaban
Dec 28, 2014 Roya Shaban rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2014
It was so fast ! but enjoyable read !
this story got no plot to follow . ..
you just go with Henry Chinaski hunting jobs , and meeting new people , drinking , hanging around !
i think my favorite character is Jan , no doubt .. am looking forward to read " Post office " even thought i kinda hated the simple writing style or whatever !

Hannah Eiseman-Renyard
Nasty Drunk

I'd heard multiple times that Bukowski was a shit to women, but a really good writer. OK, I can deal with that. I mean, I wouldn't want to have a drink with the guy but it's not like misogyny's a new one on me. Bring it on: I will read your stuff.

I gave up about halfway through. Not because he was vile to women (he was vile to everyone) but because there was nothing, I mean nothing to engage me.

Sparse writing style is only a boon if you have something good to write about. This has th
...more
Pete
Jul 02, 2013 Pete rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I started reading Factotum (1975) by Charles Bukowski. Then I got a new job, got drunk and then got fired. Then I read the next chapter. Then I got on a train to New Orleans. After that I stopped to read the next chapter and listen to some Mahler. Then went to a bar, got sauced and read the next chapter. After that I went out and got a job at a warehouse. It was good for the first two days and I took a liking to the broad who worked in the office. We got together that night, got some port, had f ...more
Sookie
Jul 14, 2015 Sookie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
Bukowski's protagonist challenges the very basic expectation of what people want from their lives. Being borderline vagrant, Chinaski lives his life with minimum expectations and necessities. In a world where excess isn't enough, Chinaski's point of view can be quite jarring when he makes observations on everyday man.

At some point we all wonder for a fleeting moment if we were born at the wrong era or wrong time as we find ourselves unable to fit amongst our kin. Chinaski is one such person and
...more
Lori
Feb 19, 2008 Lori rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I like Bukowski. I do. He tells it like it is. He doesnt try to make his alter ego Chinaksi into a hero. He's an everyday, down on his luck, boosing and one night standing kinda man.

Bukowski makes writing look easy. His stories are effortless. They flow off the page like a conversation. And here I am saying Stories, when.. in actuality this is a novel. Charles writes his novels in a sort of short story form. Each chapter is a story in itself, they can be read on thier own, in no particular orde
...more
Neri.
Feb 17, 2016 Neri. rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
1.5. It started off weird and it got even weirder... I didn't enjoyed it at all.
Ardà Rbo
Nov 29, 2015 Ardà Rbo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hasta ahora no había leído ninguna novela de Bukowski, y no lo había hecho por pura pereza. Es un autor que tiene, por un lado, una horda de seguidores ruidosos, muchos de ellos lo que llamamos "adolescentes rebeldes", universitarios culturetas y en general jóvenes más o menos leídos que parecen fundamentalmente atraídos por su malditismo y están muy interesados en que tú te enteres de ello. Por el otro lado tiene muchos detractores, casi todos ellos también jóvenes que reaccionan al entusiasmo ...more
Michael
Apr 11, 2013 Michael rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I kind of like reading reviews on Charles Bukowski's works. The negative reviews are good, especially the ones that are written after the reader has acknowledged not reading the entire work, but I find the positive ones to be more entertaining because I get a kick out of the awe and reverence and near hero worship toward the man and I feel like if I keep reading long enough I'll eventually stumble upon one calling for beatification. Did I use that word right? I enjoy these positive (booklicker?) ...more
Hundeschlitten
I read this because I kept hearing about the movie, which features Matt Dillon in the Chinaski roll, and I wanted to read the book first. To be honest, it's not Bukowski's best, but I guess I can see why they made a movie based on it, because there's lots of sex and a fair dose of violence. It's Chinaski as a young man, beginning during WWII. It starts off being a travelogue, switches to a chronicle of his sexual exploits, and by the end it's more or less a description of all the shitty jobs he ...more
Eddie
Nov 10, 2015 Eddie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: the-best
a nice way to recover after enduring city of stairs.. I feel refresshed... I feel... alive again!!!

"Ok. And when things get low you walk down the alley and get yourself a cup of coffee. It's Montie's Cafe. They got a a waitress there with big tits, you ought to see them. he wears low-cut blouses and bend over all the time. And the pie is fresh'

I wonder.. are they talking about the pie that the cafe serves or.......

God I love Bukowski... Dismal and Depravity and its VERY best!!!


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What is your favourite Charles Bukowski book? 15 149 Feb 16, 2015 04:55PM  
Madison Mega-Mara...: # 41 Factotum 1 3 May 18, 2014 10:05AM  
  • Clown Girl
  • Dead Babies
  • The Road to Los Angeles (The Saga of Arthur Bandini, #2)
  • The Room
  • Glue (Terry Lawson, #1)
  • Leaving Las Vegas
  • The Contortionist's Handbook
  • The Basketball Diaries
  • Charles Bukowski: Locked in the Arms of a Crazy Life
  • The Fuck-Up
  • The Discomfort Zone: A Personal History
  • The Coma
  • One Fine Day in the Middle of the Night
  • Guts
  • And the Ass Saw the Angel
  • The Informers
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Henry Charles Bukowski (born as Heinrich Karl Bukowski) was a German-born American poet, novelist and short story writer. His writing was influenced by the social, cultural and economic ambience of his home city of Los Angeles.It is marked by an emphasis on the ordinary lives of poor Americans, the act of writing, alcohol, relationships with women and the drudgery of work. Bukowski wrote thousands ...more
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“If you're going to try, go all the way. Otherwise, don't even start. This could mean losing girlfriends, wives, relatives and maybe even your mind. It could mean not eating for three or four days. It could mean freezing on a park bench. It could mean jail. It could mean derision. It could mean mockery--isolation. Isolation is the gift. All the others are a test of your endurance, of how much you really want to do it. And, you'll do it, despite rejection and the worst odds. And it will be better than anything else you can imagine. If you're going to try, go all the way. There is no other feeling like that. You will be alone with the gods, and the nights will flame with fire. You will ride life straight to perfect laughter. It's the only good fight there is.” 5385 likes
“My ambition is handicapped by laziness” 5185 likes
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