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Factotum by Charles Bukowski
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Dec 22, 08

Read in December, 2008

I can never quite decide if Bukowski's shitty (and well-deserved) early life led him to be a great writer. Are the old axiom's about a hard life creating great art true? There are certainly quite a few good artists (from all mediums) who came from good lives, and there are without a doubt more hard-luck stories than there are great artists, so I inevitably fall to thinking that Bukowski could have been a better writer if his life had been better, but that I might not want to read him.

I sort of enjoy watching him crash his life endlessly. I enjoy, in this book, knowing that he won't keep a job for very long. This book is little more than a history of his employment, and it's amazing to watch him leap from desperately needing a job to survive, straight into leaving bosses no choice but to fire his lousy ass. Many times I wanted to jump into the book myself, merely to cheer on one of his employers who was rightfully firing his punk ass.

But...his writing is honest enough to keep it interesting. And there are enough car crashes to keep the pages turning. I maintain that Bukowski never really says much that is poignant, because his words rarely rise about simple truths...the poignancy comes from him being one of the very few people who has the guts to say it, rather than keep it all bottled inside, lest we be judged.
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