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Ham on Rye

4.16  ·  Rating Details ·  57,731 Ratings  ·  2,256 Reviews
Legendary barfly Charles Bukowski's fourth novel, first published in 1982, is probably the most autobiographical and moving of all his books, dealing in particular with his difficult relationship with his father and his early childhood in LA. Ham on Rye follows the path of Bukowski's alter-ego Henry Chinaski through the high school years of acne and rejection and into the ...more
Kindle Edition, 369 pages
Published (first published September 1st 1982)
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Buzz Post Office, Factotum and Women read like a trilogy. It's not essential, but I think it's worth doing them in order just to get a sense of his story.

Post Office, Factotum and Women read like a trilogy. It's not essential, but I think it's worth doing them in order just to get a sense of his story.

If you do take them out of order, though, I probably wouldn't start with Women, because I think that's when he's least sympathetic.(less)
Kathrina No, "Becker" died in the War and is unpublished (and an orphan so I hardly doubt we can find those stories now, they probabl got lost).
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Community Reviews

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Aug 28, 2008 Ruth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So what is a middle-class old woman who seldom drinks and never fights doing reading this book?

Enjoying the hell out of it.
Glenn Russell
Jan 09, 2017 Glenn Russell rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

I was sixteen, tan, blonde and good looking, catching waves on my yellow surfboard along with all the other surfers, handsome guys and beautiful gals, each and every day that summer. Little did I know this mini-heaven would quickly end and hell would begin in September. Why? My smooth-skinned tan face turned into an acne-filled mess. I suffered pimple by pimple for three years straight; many fat red pimples popping up every day. Oh, yeah, on my forehead, temples, cheeks, jaw, chin and nose. Unli
Jan 08, 2013 Jenn(ifer) rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: the outsiders

Up until recently, all I knew about Charles Bukowski was what I learned in one of my all time favorite films, ‘Barfly,’ staring the incomparable Mickey Rourke as our antihero Henry Chinaski. If you haven’t seen it, you should remedy that immediately:

This is a world where everybodys gotta do something, gotta be something... sometimes I just get tired of thinking of all the things that I don't wanna do.. that I don't wanna be


Henry Chinaski is a bit of a
Nov 17, 2007 Matthew rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: truth seekers
It is true that Ham on Rye lacks a serious plot. It is also true that Mr. Bukowski writes in a crude, whiskey soaked style. However, the novel makes up for its deficiencies with a well-honed theme on the bullshit realities of middle-class existence and the ugly truth of how our society deals with those who reject that path. Such a novel should necessarily cause the reader to taste a tinge of bile in his or her throat. If you don't finish the book weary and angry, then you missed the point. As to ...more
Ham on Rye is flanked by sauces of happenstance and its delectability depends on the preferences of one’s reading tongue. Mine, for one, could not bear its sour, unsavoury ingredients.

In this bildungsroman, which is semi-autobiographical too, the protagonist, Henry Chinaski loads his bag of dilemma and expletives, and throws its weight around with nonchalance and non-disruptive disdain. The backdrop of the Great Depression, fuels the negative sentiments and Chinaski finds its shackles, throughou
May 17, 2016 Elyse rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"I had begun to dislike my father. He was always angry about something.
Wherever we went he got into arguments with people. But he didn't appear to frighten most people; they just stared at him, calmly, and he became more furious. If we ate out, which was seldom, he always found something wrong with the food and sometimes refuse to pay. "There's flyshit in this whipped cream! What the hell kind of place is this?"
"I'm sorry, sir, you needn't pay. Just leave."
"I'll leave, all right! But I'll be b
Arthur Graham
Oct 14, 2015 Arthur Graham rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"The first thing I remember is being under something."

So begins this chronicle of the dirty old man's humble beginnings, his formative years, and the myriad oppressions he endured throughout his childhood, adolescence, and early adult life. In the most literal sense, this opening line represents baby Hank's first concrete memory, but it also sets the tone for the entire memoir to come. Dedicated to "all the fathers," Ham on Rye is both an indictment of and a tribute to every boss, bully, teacher
It all started in 7th grade with these stupid clubs they made us join. Some kind of “get involved” self esteem horseshit. Every other Friday was club day. An hour before school let out everyone had to pick a club to go to. They gave us a list. I left mine blank, so they put me in the Sports Cards Collecting Club. Better than the Baking Club, I guess. My friend Joe, whose dad was president of the Charles County fire department, didn’t leave his blank. He actually chose the Sports Card Collecting ...more
Apr 27, 2011 Tony rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: u-s-lit
My life did not resemble Henry Chinaski's. No abusive father here. No ritualized beatings. No helpless mother. No culture of fighting. One lost fight was enough to teach me the purposelessness of all that. I liked school. Not that I go to the reunions. Sure there was the pimply phase, but nothing like the scourge of boils that rendered Henry a monster.

And yet...and yet...

Something rang so true reading this book. The sense of alienation. The understanding of the absurdity of it all. The rejection
Helen Stavraki
Apr 06, 2016 Helen Stavraki rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Δυο βράδια κράτησε αυτό το ταξίδι και είχα την πεποίθηση πως συζητώ αλλά περισσότερο ακούω με απόλυτο σεβασμό για τη ζωή ενός μοναχικού μου φίλου.

Τρομερή αμεσότητα και φοβερό ταλέντο προσήλωσης προς τον αποδέκτη των λόγων του.
Ακόμη κι αν δεν έχεις σκεφτεί ποτε τη δική του εκδοχή, την απαράλλαχτη γνώμη του ή την κοσμοθεωρία του σε σχέση με την ύπαρξη και την εξέλιξη του ανθρώπινου είδους στα σίγουρα θα πειστείς πως ο δικός του οίστρος προς την ματαιότητα ειναι τελικά ο πραγματικός.

Λυπήθηκα του
Jonathan Ashleigh
Charles Bukowski has led me to some amazing books, but this was not one of them. It was well told, but I personally prefer fiction. The problem with non-fiction is that, whenever you get to a part you enjoy - it doesn't last long. There were incredible parts, but then the main character grew older and all of the supporting characters changed.
Oct 04, 2016 Tristan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“At the age of 25 most people were finished. A whole god-damned nation of assholes driving automobiles, eating, having babies, doing everything in the worst way possible, like voting for the presidential candidate who reminded them most of themselves.”

― Charles Bukowski, Ham on Rye


Reading Charles Bukowski in public is a rather curious thing. Every once in a while, you come across some line or paragraph that is suffused with such a potent strand of open misanthropy it makes you chuckle. You thin
Miss Ravi
May 28, 2016 Miss Ravi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novel
عجیب نیست که آدم از شرح فلاکتهای کسی لذت ببرد؟ شاید نه. اگر این شرح را چارلز بوکوفسکی نوشته باشد. و در خوانش شرح بدبختیهای هنری چیناکسی حتا آدم خندهاش میگیرد، میخندد. البته اگر همه این اتفاقات در دنیای واقعیِ بوکوفسکی اتفاق افتاده باشند، چیزی شبیه کابوس است اما خواندن بیخیالی شخصیتی که خلق کرده، دیالوگهای بامزهاش و فضایی که در کل رمان ایجاد میکند به یک جور طنز سیاه شبیه میشود. هنری چیناسکی مرام و مسلک خودش را دارد، هیچکس جذبش نمیشود و در مقابل هیچچیزی در دنیا برایش جذاب نیست. همیشه در فکر انتقام ...more
Aug 16, 2016 Helle rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: american
Holy shit!

This is the story of Henry Chenaski, Charles Bukowski’s alter ego, who had a helluva depressing childhood in large part due to a father who was a real son of a bitch and whom I blame for Henry’s later love of the bottle, to a lesser extent due to the Depression that hit the States, and Los Angeles, when Henry grew up.

My heart bled for young Henry; like when his father forced him to mow the lawn when all the other kids on the street were out playing. When Henry was done, his father put
Franco  Santos
Oct 29, 2015 Franco Santos rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Novela autobiográfica de Bukowski. Cruda, cruel, con un lenguaje vulgar y directo. Es un claro reflejo de la miseria humana en la época de la Depresión y la Segunda Guerra Mundial.

El autor nos lleva por los barrios más bajos para que conozcamos qué lo arrastró a su enajenación, a su conducta antisocial y al alcoholismo. Un chico que a partir de una muy temprana edad tuvo que aprender a jugar en la vida con reglas sucias, que fue rechazado por su padre, que fue ignorado por la compasión y que tr
Jun 07, 2007 Nico rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I hate Charles Bukowski.
Feb 02, 2014 Jeremy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: edgy
A whole god-damned nation of assholes driving automobiles, eating, doing everything in the worst way possible, like voting for the presidential candidate that reminded them most of themselves.

So I finish with Camus’ ‘The Rebel’ and read this. I loved ‘The Rebel’. I’ve read it twice. I took copious notes. It took me something like three months to read ... again. Then I start reading this on Boxing Day. My sister gave it to me.

I finish it the day after.

This was a great read. I’ve experienced simi
"بیشتر آدمها در بیستوپنج سالگی تمام میشوند. و بعد تبدیل میشوند به ملتی بیشعور که رانندگی میکند، غذا میخورد، بچهدار میشود و هرکاری را به بدترین شکلاش انجام میدهد، مانند رای دادن به کاندیدای ریاست جمهوریای که آنها را یاد خودشان میاندازد. من دلبستگی نداشتم. به هیچچیز دلبستگی نداشتم. حتی نمیدانستم چطور باید فرار کنم. بقیه دستکم حساب کار دستشان آمده بود که چطور زندگی کنند. آنها ظاهراً چیزی را فهمیده بودند که من نفهمیده بودم. شاید چیزی در من کم بود."

Sentimental Surrealist
Bukowski is impossible to separate from his fans, at least for me: those driver-cap wearing kids you see in every undergraduate creative writing seminar who still think it's not just funny but somehow or other beneficial to society to be "edgy" and "politically incorrect," who wish they had mental illness so they could "tap into genius," and who feel that living the "real writer's life" involves being homeless and alcoholic. They're pretty much the "manly men" of the creative writing sphere. It' ...more
Mar 02, 2013 Elise rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The person who said "Notes of a Dirty Old Man" was a good place to start when beginning to read Bukowski's works couldn't have been more wrong. "Ham on Rye" is Bukowski at his best, and this memoir allowed me to understand Charles Bukowski and how he later became that "dirty old man." "Ham on Rye," like the later work, is filled with the unflinching honesty so characteristic of Bukowski, but here that honesty is less postured, uses less shock value, and shows the vulnerability underneath the tou ...more
Henry Martin
Dec 01, 2015 Henry Martin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a reread for me, so I knew what I was getting myself into. Nevertheless, Bukowski never bores, no matter how many times I read his stories.

Ham on Rye is a quintessential tale of an angry young man. What sets this one apart is the fact that he has a plenty to be angry about. Bukowski's writing is always a breath of fresh air amid pretentious novels dealing with a similar subject. What sets him apart is hard to classify. His language is plain, his grammar sparse but perfect, and there is
Adam Floridia
I don’t know if this book is supposed to be funny, but I found it freakin’ hilarious. I mean if you stop to think about it, everything in it is really, really depressing. Henry Chinaski’s life is miserable from the moment he’s born—or at least from his first conscious recollection of hiding under a table and listening to angry adults yelling. His father is almost cartoonishly mean throughout, not only to Henry, who receives weekly beatings, but to everyone he encounters—like the old man in the h ...more
Feb 16, 2010 Tyler rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Adults; Guys
Recommended to Tyler by: Author's Reputation
No matter what, some folks are fated to become low-lifes, streetfighting bums or out-and-out thugs. In this semi-autobiographical account of youth, Charles Bukowski’s dirty realism describes just such a man. Bukowski is rare among outsiders, a poet and prose writer with the credentials to write about a pariah living on the margins.

The previously published Factotum covers Bukowski’s young adulthood. This book describes his growing up prior to World War II in Los Angeles. This book might answer a
Sheyda Heydari Shovir
بنقل از وبلاگ

من دبیرستان بوکوفسکی خونده بودم. در نگاه اول خوشم اومده بود. بعد که از هیجانزدگیم کم شده بود از خودم پرسیدم این همه شلوغی برای چیه. بعدش هم نفرت از برندهای فرهنگی نذاشت برم سمتش.
الان بعد سالها یه شانس دیگه بهش دادم و این کتابشو خوندم. مصممتر شدهم که ترجمه نباید خوند. تجربه خوندن این کتاب و تجربههای چون این مطمئنم کردهند که ترجمه نخونم و توصیه کنم که ترجمه نخونند.
فرق است. در برخورد با ترجمههای بوکوفسکی بنظر میاد که یکی از محصولات کثافت نشر چشمه برای مصرفکن
Apr 16, 2014 Mariel rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: you're from hell
Recommended to Mariel by: when someone else's truth
Not only did the grownups get mean, the kids got mean, and even the animals got mean. It was like they took their cue from the people.

What did they see in him? The others follow his starving artist dog home from poker on some wall somewhere, hustling nothing. Keep finding him he brown bags his leave me alone lunchtime rituals. There isn't a dirty room to hide in his parent's home or out in the world. Under their roof rules. Henry Chinaski talks a lot about the long hair blowing in the wind in th
The beginning is funny, but maybe you need a twisted sense of humor like mine.

The language is vulgar. To state otherwise is a pure lie.

The book although fiction very closely follows the author's own youth.

The setting is Los Angeles. The time is 1920-1941, that is to say from Bukowski's own birth to Pearl Harbor. Bukowski's alter-ego is Henry Chinaski, the main character in the book. Wiki states that Bukowski's books are about "the ordinary lives of poor Americans, the act of writing, alcohol,
Karly *The Vampire Ninja, Luminescent Monster & Wendigo Nerd Goddess of Canada (according to The Hulk)*

So, here I sit asking myself what exactly I expected from Bukowski's Ham on Rye. The answer: I really don't know...

I didn't expect myself to fall a bit in love with a vulgar, obsessive, reclusive weirdo; I do know that!

However, I did fall a bit in love with this novel. With it's flow and ebb, it's vulgarity, it's I-don't-give-a-shit-what-you-think-about-me attitude. It's hard not to get caught up in the flow of Bukowski's story telling. To find yourself lost in the squalor of Henry's upbringing
Parthiban Sekar
Jul 02, 2015 Parthiban Sekar rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

All a guy needed was a chance. Somebody was always controlling who got a chance and who didn't.

This is the story of a guy who tries to score girls....who is goal-oriented...who tries to lead a normal life...NO! who you can relate to Holden from The Catcher in the Rye but he is more raw, rude, and wanting to be a tough guy. They do have some similarities but the difference is that Henry's is of Charles Bukowski's type and wouldn't mind to break Holden's nose, given a chance of a fist-fight or d
Vit Babenco
Oct 28, 2015 Vit Babenco rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There is this eminent poem by Philip Larkin: “They fuck you up, your mum and dad. They may not mean to, but they do. They fill you with the faults they had and add some extra, just for you. But they were fucked up in their turn by fools in old-style hats and coats, who half the time were soppy-stern and half at one another's throats.”
And everything in Ham on Rye develops under this scenario…
“So, that’s what they wanted: lies. Beautiful lies. That’s what they needed. People were fools. It was goi
Jul 13, 2007 Kim rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: the morbidly curious, anyone who kind of likes Jack Kerouac
I read this book years ago, but most of it still sticks with me. I have a hard time giving it more than three stars because Charles Bukowski is such an asshole. It is also true though that he is an amazing writer. All of Bukowski's work is highly autobiographical (part of being a huge jerk is naricism) and this is his best. It deals with his horribly abusive childhood and adolescence is a way that is honest while pushing away all sympathy, a combination that creates a false intimacy. Reading Ham ...more
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ladies--your thoughts? 1 9 Dec 17, 2016 12:54PM  
Becker = Alter-Ego of Henry Chinaski? 5 113 Mar 05, 2016 05:27PM  
Books with direct speech for a non-native English speaker 3 51 Feb 16, 2014 12:00PM  
The Bookhouse Boys: Ham on Rye discussion 18 71 Dec 31, 2013 02:03PM  
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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
More about Charles Bukowski...

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“What a weary time those years were -- to have the desire and the need to live but not the ability.” 1164 likes
“I had noticed that both in the very poor and very rich extremes of society the mad were often allowed to mingle freely.” 409 likes
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