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Ham on Rye

4.16 of 5 stars 4.16  ·  rating details  ·  39,798 ratings  ·  1,572 reviews
In what is widely hailed as the best of his many novels, Charles Bukowski details the long, lonely years of his own hardscrabble youth in the raw voice of alter ego Henry Chinaski. From a harrowingly cheerless childhood in Germany through acne-riddled high school years and his adolescent discoveries of alcohol, women, and the Los Angeles Public Library's collection of D. H...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published February 27th 2007 by Ecco (first published 1982)
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Ham on Rye by Charles BukowskiPost Office by Charles BukowskiWomen by Charles BukowskiFactotum by Charles BukowskiHollywood by Charles Bukowski
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1st out of 15 books — 50 voters
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Ruth
So what is a middle-class old woman who seldom drinks and never fights doing reading this book?

Enjoying the hell out of it.
Jenn(ifer)
Jan 08, 2013 Jenn(ifer) rated it 4 of 5 stars
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: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SrpTDa...

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...more
Matthew Dodson
Nov 17, 2007 Matthew Dodson rated it 4 of 5 stars
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
Ben
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
Arthur Graham
"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 bully, boss, teacher...more
Raegan Butcher
Charles Bukowski is one of my favorite writers. This is one of his best books. It follows him from the age of five to his early teens. Heartbreaking and hilarious, this book was written at the perfect time by the man himself--if he had been younger it wouldn't have had the wisdom that it contains---this is probably Bukowski at his finest; all of the foundations for his later life and work are laid here: his father's brutality, his mother's complacency, the cruelty of his classmates and his rejec...more
Tony
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...more
Jeremy
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...more
Nico
I hate Charles Bukowski.
Elise
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
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
Tyler
Feb 16, 2010 Tyler rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  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...more
Brendan
im reading this on the plane (qf12) and im nearly done (american term meaning finished). anyway reading it and deborah the chirpy as fuk flight attendant comes over and asks me what i do and i say im a writer and she says to me wow and sees what im reading and says that bokwoski was a very cynical writer. then she pours me a guava juice ('feed the mind') and continues to rattle on about how i NEED TO READ JEFFREY ARCHER and i said im not wild about jeff and she said you have to be open to things...more
Karly *The Vampire Ninja*


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...more
Mariel
Apr 16, 2014 Mariel rated it 3 of 5 stars
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...more
Nikki
This book has completely destroyed all the preconceptions I harboured about Bukowski. I always thought of him as a writer only loved by immature men, someone who only wrote about drinking and sex. To be honest, I kind of always looked down my nose at him. I'd never actually read any of his work though and since I really hate people who voice opinions about matters they know nothing about, I decided to pick up one of his novels to prove to myself that I'd been right all along and that I wasn't a...more
Fewlas
Bibbia – Ecclesiaste 3

1 Per ogni cosa c'è la sua stagione c'è un tempo per ogni situazione sotto il cielo:
2 un tempo per nascere e un tempo per morire, un tempo per piantare e un tempo per sradicare ciò che è
3 piantato,
4 un tempo per uccidere e un tempo per guarire, un tempo per demolire e un tempo per costruire,
5 un tempo per piangere e un tempo per ridere, un tempo per far cordoglio e un tempo per danzare,
6 un tempo per gettare via pietre e un tempo per raccogliere pietre, un tempo per abbrac
...more
Schuyler
This is only the second novel I have read by Bukowski. I'm more a fan of his poetry. His poems are like his novels but condensed onto one page so they seem to carry more weight, more truth. His novels are like his poems but spread out over hundreds of pages so they seem a bit repetitive and watered down. The first half of the book was really good, recalling his childhood and abusive family life. The second half of the novel lost momentum as he describes his life after high school which foreshado...more
Tom Meade
I know a girl who loves Bukowski because he can't write. He doesn't pretty it up. Well, it's because he writes so ugly that this book is so beautiful. It's a troubling look back at the youth of a man who knows exactly where he went wrong, but isn't afraid to leave it unjustified. Because after all, he's no better nor worse than anyone else in the world.

There's a disarming quality to the frankness of the prose which I read as somewhat disingenuous. Bukowski writes ugly, so you assume he's incapab...more
Kim
Jul 13, 2007 Kim rated it 3 of 5 stars
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
Cwn_annwn_13
Like most of his books this is loosely based on Bukowskis real life experiences. Ham on Rye covers Bukowskis childhood and early adulthood, ending around his second year of college. Even though he had a pretty terrible childhood if your to believe this book he finds a lot of humor in some very horrid situations. I found myself laughing out loud constantly while reading this, so this is not some depressing whine fest. Even though its sad at times its also a VERY funny book. One slightly annoying...more
Matej Vidaković
Pisati review za bilo koje djelo Charlesa Bukowskog jako je teško. Ponajprije jer književni svijet još uvijek nije odlučio kamo bi smjestio ovog "klošara" . Svakako da je puno onih koji mu spočitavaju nezrele stavove o životu, manjak profinjenosti i svakako da bi mu većina feministica u krajnjoj liniji, da se lijepo izrazim, odstranila testise.

No, sve u svemu, naš "stari pokvarenjak" ipak ima svojih vrlina i dobrih strana. Prvenstveno, Bukowski je gotovo u potpunosti samoobrazovan, a obrazovan...more
Carolyne Mistake
In classic Bukowski fashion, this book works as a book of fiction but is painfully autobiographical. It casts shadows along the same archetypes as This Boy's Life, by Tobias Wolffe, but there is a much less forgiving tone in the writings, much less sentimental feel which could come from the distancing of Bukowski through the fictionalization. This book is humorous, dark, and relentless. The main character is mean, ugly, and misogynistic. But still, in all that, there is a pull towards feeling fo...more
Matilda
Ο Μπουκόφσκι είναι ένας από τους πιο αγαπημένους μου συγγραφείς. Οι λόγοι είναι πάρα πολλοί αλλά ο βασικότερος είναι πως σε κάθε βιβλίο του που έχω διαβάσει πραγματικά ξεγυμνώνει την ψυχή του και αυτοσαρκάζεται σε κάθε πρόταση που γράφει. Ειδικά αυτός ο αυτοσαρκασμός του με αγγίζει απίστευτα!
Το βιβλίο είναι κάτι σαν αυτοβιογραφία του ίδιου και προσωπικά το απόλαυσα στο μέγιστο βαθμό όπως και κάθε άλλο βιβλίο του Μπουκόφσκι :)
Guy Portman
Ham On Rye is a semi-autobiographical account of Bukowski’s formative years in his home city of Los Angeles. The story follows the early life of the author’s alter ego, Henry Chinaski, starting with his earliest memories, then through his school years, college, and introduction to the world of work.

Chinaski’s childhood is a tragic affair, marked by a tempestuous home life, which entailed being bullied and beaten by a domineering, resentful father, and largely ignored by a passive mother. Matter...more
Ryan Werner
As a fictional memoir covering Bukowki's Hank Chinaski, Ham On Rye serves as a tome of explanation and unorganized insurrection towards both his detractors and followers.

Defending the late Charles Bukowski (1920-1994) and his rebellion against societal norms is a lost cause, and while his abuse of alcohol, women, himself, and humanity in general have often gotten him slagged as a misogynistic wino with no karma left to burn, the freedom and honesty of his writing in 1982’s Ham On Rye (Ecco, ISBN...more
Matt Seeker
"For all the fathers"

An interesting dedication. This book was going to speak to me and my impending parenthood. Little did I know that it was going to be a lesson in "what not to do".

This is a autobiographical piece on Bukowski's childhood under the guise of fiction. It is certainly no go lucky tale and his father is no Atticus Finch. The story is filled with disturbing sadness and pure unbridled rage. Some words jump off the page and dance in front of your eyes, these words shoot off the page a...more
Rand
Aug 29, 2013 Rand added it
Shelves: novel
The wry bred sum of the mill and dew from the moult lick or could it?

Not.

It was in the sound of the slap on the face, the ass Kant could not.

Not that that means anything. Things can be mean, people can be things. The subject was open to debate about mustard and relish and Miracle Whip. And on ion not lost yet least amongst the hateful of hollow. How could you.

Taint fair.

Question the snack, snicker delight and Brutus et al did shank Hank in a sleight of hand.
Beat it. Be at it before we find you...more
soul
Тъжно, откровено и затрогващо парченце автобиография, чието подзаглавие може да бъде "Как се (само)възпитава самотник".
Четенето на Буковски би трябвало да се започва от тази книга, от осакатеното му детство с кравешки послушна и безгласна майка, превъртял и деспотичен баща, от борбата му за оцеляване у дома, в училище и на улицата, от липсата на обич и печеленото с юмруци уважение, от безпаричието и ужасяващото акне, станали негова визитна картичка, за да се разбере обвитата му в мазоли душа, н...more
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Becker = Alter-Ego of Henry Chinaski? 2 40 Feb 19, 2014 10:03PM  
Books with direct speech for a non-native English speaker 3 39 Feb 16, 2014 12:00PM  
The Bookhouse Boys: Ham on Rye discussion 18 39 Dec 31, 2013 02:03PM  
Ham on Rye 5 202 Nov 20, 2012 09:26AM  
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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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“What a weary time those years were -- to have the desire and the need to live but not the ability.” 854 likes
“I had noticed that both in the very poor and very rich extremes of society the mad were often allowed to mingle freely.” 284 likes
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