Charles Bukowski’s cult following with the disillusioned youth of the nation is quite clearly explained once you pick up any of his written work, be it poetry, short stories, or his novels. I read Post Office, and then started reading a few of his short stories and could immediately understand the attraction. From other reviews I’ve read of his works, it seems that Bukowski has a hit a key that beat writers could not match. Although he’s never cited among the beat writers, Bukowski’s writing did remind me Kereuac’s On The Road.
In Post Office, Bukowski’s writing is a realistic portrayal of one Hank Chinaski, a frustrated, stubborn alcoholic working for the post-office. Hank Chinaski seems to be Bukowski’s alter ego, as Hank makes an appearance in a number of Bukowski novels. The novel spans eleven years, broken into five sections, of Hank’s life working for the post office, his numerous liasions with women, and his innate ability to always question authority, always push the buttons. This novel is a true I-hate-my-job story, especially since the first line of the novel says “It began as a mistake.” Somehow Chinaski stayed with the postal service for eleven years, leaving the job just as poor and beat-down as he was when he first took on the job. Although he seems rough on the edges, Chinaski is a decent guy, just trying to enjoy his life. Teens will read this book because of its portrayal of real life as something ugly and hard, since the narrator is constantly misunderstood by those in authority around him. This might also explain why every novel by Bukowski is labeled as “missing” in most library catalogs.
FINAL GRADE: A-