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Ham on Rye

4.16  ·  Rating Details ·  58,397 Ratings  ·  2,281 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

Kindle Edition, 283 pages
Published by Harper Collins (first published September 1st 1982)
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Aug 27, 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
Feb 18, 2015 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
Dec 10, 2012 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
Aug 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
Aug 29, 2013 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
sweet jane
Sep 23, 2015 sweet jane rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Μέσα από τον μικρό πρωταγωνιστή του έργου, Χανκ, ο Μπουκόβσκι γράφει για τα παιδικά του χρόνια, την γνωριμία του με τον κόσμο και την λογοτεχνία, την διαφορετικότητα και τους γονείς του. Πιάνει κάθε τι αντιπροσωπευτικό του Αμερικάνικου ονείρου (την μεγάλη ζωή, τα χρήματα και την θεία οικογένεια) και τα κατατροπώνει μέσα σε μερικές εκατοντάδες σελίδες. Το περίεργο της όλης υπόθεσης είναι ο τρόπος που το πετυχαίνει αυτό ο συγγραφέας. Κατά την γνώμη μου, δεν σοκάρουν τόσο οι ωμές τοποθετήσεις του γ ...more
Arthur Graham
Mar 09, 2012 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 25, 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
Jul 14, 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
Feb 17, 2012 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
Helen Stavraki
Mar 07, 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.
Miss Ravi
May 23, 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
Franco  Santos
Oct 28, 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
Raegan Butcher
Apr 28, 2008 Raegan Butcher rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Charles Bukowski is one of my favorite writers. This is one of his best books. Heartbreaking and hilarious, this 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 rejection by just about everyone once his acne erupted;these exper ...more
Jun 07, 2007 Nico rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I hate Charles Bukowski.
Jan 16, 2013 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
Henry Martin
Nov 12, 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
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
"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."

Feb 27, 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
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 11, 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 02, 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
Sep 30, 2008 Brendan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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,
Vit Babenco
Oct 26, 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
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ladies--your thoughts? 3 19 Feb 06, 2017 05:52AM  
Becker = Alter-Ego of Henry Chinaski? 5 117 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.” 1171 likes
“I had noticed that both in the very poor and very rich extremes of society the mad were often allowed to mingle freely.” 413 likes
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