James's Reviews > Factotum

Factotum by Charles Bukowski
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's review
Jan 02, 2012

really liked it
Read in January, 2012

I have read that Charles Bukowski is the type of author whose works were always stuck in a state of arrested development. His 1975 novel, "Factotum" fits well into this mold. "Factotum" focuses on the ongoing misadventures of his thinly veiled alter-ego, Henry Chinaski, in his attempts to find work, and then his proceeding to quickly lose the work he finds. While the novel is thoroughly enjoyable and, at times, uproariously funny, it does not seem to be the work of a mature author. An extremely talented author maybe, but not a mature one. This is not always a bad thing, as in the case of Bret Easton Ellis' debut novel "Less Than Zero", where the author's relative immaturity (he was nineteen when he wrote it) accentuates the point of the work. In Bukowski's case, the constant stream of trouble that Chinaski finds himself in caused me to repeatedly ask the question: when will he grow up? While the lack of narrative focus and the minimalist style is highly effective given the subject matter, my inability to grasp any sort of message other than the importance of never giving in to life's inherent monotony will almost definitely prevent me from returning to the novel down the line. This is the first work by Bukowski that I have read, and I now know why so many teenagers and college students embrace his works, and why their editions collect dust as they enter their thirties. In the end though, "Factotum" is an immensely entertaining novel worth reading once, though probably not twice.

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