Raegan Butcher's Reviews > Ham on Rye

Ham on Rye by Charles Bukowski
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Oct 11, 13

Read in September, 1990

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 rejection by just about everyone once his acne erupted;these experiences, tho specific to Bukowski, become universal in his hands as he invests this novel with a quiet sadness that provides many clues to his later behavior. It's not surprising that the child and young man depicted here would grow up to be a somewhat misanthropic alcoholic--yet secretly as human and vulnerable as any of us.
I think as time goes on this book will only increase in stature among the many that Bukowski wrote during his lifetime.It stands as a wonderful time capsule of the Great Depression and Los Angeles in the 1930's as well as offering an honest portrait of the difficult childhood and adolescence of a unique American artist.(James Franco is currently making this into a film to be titled "Bukowski" with Tim Blake Nelson playing Henry Sr)
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