The Post Office by Charles Bukowski

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Good morning readers, another ‘classic’ book for you today. I wasn’t planning to read this, but due to moving house I’ve had to move libraries. So taking all my beloved books back including F (a novel) which I haven’t yet finished, me and T wandered to the new library in Hanley and we both forgot it was a Sunday. So, I had to borrow one off T. It turns out that this and Factotum are rather similar. However, if you’re yet to read Bukowski then this might persuade you to get hold of a copy.

Henry Chinaski is a lowlife loser with a hand-to-mouth existence. His menial post office day job supports a life of beer, one-night stands and racetracks. Lurid, uncompromising and hilarious, Post Office is a landmark in American literature, and over 1 million copies have been sold worldwide. This book is the story of Henry Chinaski’s world. Its deep and compelling individuality is a refreshing change from conventional literary works.


I first want to comment on Bukowski’s acknowledgements at the front of the book; ‘this is presented as a work of fiction and dedicated to nobody.’ This basically sums up the entirety of Bukowski’s work. It’s brutal, honest, raw and unmaterialistic. The book follows Henry Chinaski who works in the Post Office. The character who is Bukowski’s alter ego in many of the book is an alcoholic who strives to stay alive and stay drunk. Following both his personal and ‘professional’ life we see Bukowski treat women as like they are only for sex, work paying Bukowski to do as little as possible and us readers are treated with as much contempt as the characters in the rest of the tale.

What sets this apart and what makes it so much like Factotum is that it tells the tale of a man who is in touch with the most basic of urges. Sex, money, friendship, horse racing, and getting pissed is the crux of the book whilst Chinaski comes across as a man who knows the world and is cleverer than most but his inability to compromise with society as a whole means he will never move forward in his life. He refuses to buy into social morality, and instead is a man who barely survives.

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The prose is easy to read and flows along. It is sarcastic and cynical but there is something loveable there despite Chinaski’s apparent want to alienate the reader at every turn. *Trigger.*

 There was a part  that was a little distressing; Henry rapes a woman and yet Bukowski by the end of the short scene made it sound as if she enjoyed it. It felt a little stressful and unneeded but you get the feeling Bukowski writes whatever he wants whichever want he wants. Chinaski as a character is not a nice man and many of the things he says and does are disgusting and repugnant. But there is something truly fascinating about the life that he leads.

In terms of its seeming similarity to Factotum, it revolves around the same ideology of sex, alcohol, racing, and working as little and as badly as possible. It is both cynical, written in the same style and a number of scenes turn up in both books. Once again this could be Bukowski just playing with being an author but it felt a bit repetitive. T was about to buy Factotum but I’m not sure it’s worth reading both. For me anyway.

There is a lot of beauty in this book, but it is a cynical type of beauty. I enjoyed it as much as I did Factotum but I don’t feel I learnt anything from it. An author definitely worth a read, but maybe not a second.




Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka

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Good morning readers, the slump is nearly over and I’m getting back into reading again *cheers.* It’s taken a little while this time to snap out of it, but, I’m getting there and it’s having an effect on T. He’s a little proud of his stack of books and we’re reading the same novels lending each other books and discussing more. It’s our thing and lazy Saturday morning’s reading in bed are perfection. Today’s book is one I read a little while ago but one I really enjoyed unravelling.

The Metamorphosis (German: Die Verwandlung) is a novella by Franz Kafka, first published in 1915. It is often cited as one of the seminal works of short fiction of the 20th century and is widely studied in colleges and universities across the western world. The story begins with a traveling salesman, Gregor Samsa, waking to find himself transformed into an insect. Critics have interpreted Kafka’s works in the context of a variety of literary schools, such as modernism, magical realism, and so on. The apparent hopelessness and absurdity that seem to permeate his works are considered emblematic of existentialism.

A guess this is another classic book to add to my resume? I think that Kafka has really a interesting way of writing and I’ve toyed with reading more from this author. As you may know the book follows Gregor who wakes up to find that he has become an insect. The book follows Gregor as he struggles to live with his new body and identity and follows the themes of abandonment, alienation and human behaviour.

As you can imagine the book takes on a surreal and imagined world where it is quite normal to turn into said insect. Despite the shock of such a transformation Gregor is surprisingly accepting of his new appearance but it is instead his parents and the other people that he encounters that find it so difficult to come to terms with. As Gregor’s family become more frustrated, blaming Gregor for their financial problems and their inability to move to a smaller  house, their attitude towards him turns cruel and helpless.

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This book is studied a lot in terms of its meaning and it’s because there are many different interpretations. For me I think the book represents a long term illness, either mental or physical, and how as it continues feeling of trying to help said individual can turn to rage or helplessness. This is masked through Kafka’s literal writing of such an absurd situation. For me there’s some satirical about it, but it hides a darker, very important message. There are questions that arise through reading; why do Gregor’s parents seem far better off after the transformation? Were they reliant utterly on Gregor? If so why did it take the alienation of their son to take some weight from his shoulders. What does it all mean damn it!

You could go round and round in circles with this book and that’s why it’s so wonderful. There are so many different meanings and alternative thought processes as to what is really going on. In terms of the writing it’s a little basic but it’s about making the reading think for themselves. The ending truly is bittersweet and if you are yet to read this I will attempt not to spoil it but it truly is a very sad and ironic metamorphosis.

If you’re thinking of reading this book but are yet to get online and find a copy, it’s a very short read and it will make you think. I adore books that don’t give the reader exactly what they need to know but instead leave it open for the reader to pull apart. It’s a saddening tale but one that definitely speaks true in our current community; the feeling of alienation whether it’s homelessness, poverty or mental and physical health problems and the hollow feeling it creates. I hope this book is a warning and a lesson as to what can happen if we’re not so understanding of each other’s situations. A book with a real message and one you should definitely take some time to explore.




Top Ten Tuesdays: Ten classic books I want to read next

Heellllooo readers, it’s time for another Top Ten Tuesday post brought to you by the wonderful ‘The Broke and the bookish,’ and it’s a free week which means that you can pick whatever book related topic your heart desires. As I have recently(-ish) finished my ten classic books challenge for my 101 things in 1001 days list I thought, why not list down the next ten classics I intend to read because there are quite a few I’ve discovered whilst browsing the library shelves/Amazon/Waterstones. If you have any to add comment below I will have to take a look at your suggestions. Without delay number one is….


Lord of the Flies (1954) by William Golding

Every man and his dog have read this book, apart from me, because I’m always so far behind.

The Picture of Dorian Gray (1891) by Oscar Wilde

This was planned as my last classic book for my 101 things in 1001 days challenge but I ended up reading Little Women, a book that has been on the list for years and years. I still plan to get this read though, eventually.

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Anne of Green Gables (1908) by L.M. Montgomery

As a younger reader my mum really encouraged some classic books but being a stubborn reader I ignored them. Recently I found this on my bookshelf, and athough I’m maybe a little too old for it, I’m going to get it read I think. Sorry Mumma.


A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (1943) by Betty Smith

I only fully came across this book recently, but being split into five books, each telling a different period in the character’s lives it could span a reading experience I’ve yet to try. Something that will be new to my classic reading so far.


The Colour Purple (1982) by Alice Walker

I’m always intrigued with books that look at American social culture and the position of African-American women in the southern states of America. This one I’ve heard should be on allllll TBR’s.

Cover shows a drawing of a man, who appears to be made of newspaper and is engulfed in flames, standing on top of some books. His right arm is down and holding what appears to be a paper fireman's hat while his left arm is wiping sweat from the brow of his bowed head. Beside the title and author's name in large text, there is a small caption in the upper left-hand corner that reads, "Wonderful stories by the author of The Golden Apples of the Sun".

Farenheit 451 (1953) by Ray Bradbury

I think this book is on every single ‘book list’ I’ve seen recently such as ‘100 Books you must read during your lifetime,’ or ‘Books you haven’t read yet but must before you’re thirty.’ Those kind of lists make me feel guilty and also add to my never ending TBR pile *whines.*


Ulysses (1922) by James Joyce

I just want to attempt this, at least once.


Slaughterhouse-five (1969) by Kurt Vonnegut

Gah, this book just seems perfect for me as a reader. A satrical novel about World War II told through the life of a chaplian’s assistant, Billy Pilgrim. Really brilliant for a historical fiction adorer, and another I feel I should have read by now.

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The Catcher in the Rye (1951) by J.D Salinger

One that I missed out reading during school I feel like this is one of those books I should have probably read, or at least should be getting round to reading. Maybe this Autumn I’ll finally get it finished. Hopefully at least.

and finally

One Hundred Years of Solitute (1967) by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

T just finished this and thought it was pretty wonderful, I had a nosy on Amazon and so many readers agree I think this one just had to make this list.

(Bonus book Anna Karenina (1878) by Leo Tolstoy)

There you have it ten (eleven) classic books I still need to get read. What would you add? Which really aren’t worth sticking at the top of my TBR pile? Let me know in le comments you lovely readers.

Gerald’s Party by Robert Coover

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Hellllo readers, another day another review; today’s book is a really interesting novel that I picked up when at my local library. Libraries are brilliant for us who hoard books (book bloggers I’m looking at you.) Quite often I read books and although I enjoy them, I’m not truly happy with them and I don’t feel the need to necessarily keep the books. The memories of reading the novel are enough and this was one of those books. I can’t decide whether I *liked* this book yet, but it was certainly an experience as such. My review of Gerald’s Party by Robert Coover

Robert Coover’s wicked and surreally comic novel takes place at a chilling, ribald, and absolutely fascinating party. Amid the drunken guests, a woman turns up murdered on the living room floor. Around the corpse, one of several the evening produces, Gerald’s party goes on — a chatter of voices, names, faces, overheard gags, rounds of storytelling, and a mounting curve of desire. What Coover has in store for his guests (besides an evening gone mad) is part murder mystery, part British parlor drama, and part sly and dazzling meditation on time, theater, and love.


Gah I think I might have gone classic crazy; I’ve gone from detesting them to utterly adoring them in a matter of months. Little Women, and Ulysses are both on the cards although we’ll have to see how they go. In terms of today’s book the narrative follows the almost hallucinogenic nightmare of confusion and turmoil of the rather simply named Gerald’s Party. The book follows the absurd affair as we follow Gerald and his unnamed wife as they entertain dozens of different character. There’s Vic, Dickie, Kitty, Iris, Lloyd, Patrick, Allison and her husbands and numerous others but you would need a checklist to keep an eye on all of them.

Additionally as the blurb suggests there is the body, curled up on the floor amongst the partiers that belongs to the actress named Ros. With a gushing hole in the centre of her chest the mayhem is stirred and her jealous husband Rodger gets a little frantic. With the Police called; (Fred and Bob) and their homicide detective (Nigel Pardew) a rather odd character who immediately demands the watches of all those that have entered (later deducing that the murder happened half an hour before they arrived.) It sounds pretty normal but the writing style is anything but. Dialogues over-lap, characters movements do too. We’re in the garden, bare feet against the grass, then suddenly in the kitchen seeing Gerald’s wife cooking more and more food for the stacked table, then with his son Mark and his mother and law. It all overlaps haphazardly and confusingly. Characters melt into one.

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The thing is that ‘Gerald’s Party,’ is noticeably about time, quite obviously shown in the removal of the watches. The party seems to stretch for hours whilst the guests waver in and out of drunkenness. They’re also piles of sexual activity. Each of the couples appears to have at least one other sexual partner at said party and at one point we see Gerald wiping the bottom of a woman who has to put it nicely ‘lost control of her bounds.’ The sexual energy during this is scene is both baffling and amusing. It is riotous read that ploughs through taking the reader whether they want to or not.

I must admit I think I will one day when older I will maybe try this novel again. The effect of the writing for me becomes a little too excessive. The repetition at the beginning is exciting and intriguing but it quickly wears off. The startling acts of the characters becomes too over the top and audacious. For me it is a very evocative and fascinating book that was a bit to jolty to really carry it off and although the idea of time being non-existent at the start was exciting two hundred of so pages in I was starting to lose my stamina. I found that the book felt like a jigsaw puzzle I had to put back together again but had no chance of doing so.

Overall I will probably look at this review in a few years and feel silly but right now this book was really difficult for me to read. I found it really interesting to read and I would definitely recommend but it is honestly nothing like I have ever read before.




101 things in 1001 days: Read ten classic novels

101 things in 1001 daysClassic books; from Tolstoy to Fitzgerald, Bronte to Lee we’ve all at some point come into contact with a classic from the cannon of books that are recognised as the cream of the crop. I have avoided them as like the plague for the majority of my book blogging life as it were. I refused to read classic books at school with Enduring Love being a particular sticking point. Why? They just weren’t really me, and pulling apart the commas, certain word use and the like, as well as being asked to read the book a number of times, by the end of the semester the book was ruined.

However, when I started writing my 101 things in 1001 day list I decided it was time to start reading the classics again and give the cannon another chance. I picked books that interested me; historical fiction based and picked authors that I had already read books from such as Orwell, Fitzgerald (although that didn’t work so well) and also books at school that I hadn’t got the chance to read. I asked friends and family what they would suggest and I created a list of sorts, with extras being added along the way.

My final list included
1) Down and Out in Paris and in London by George Orwell
2) Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
3) Girl 20 by Kingsley Amis
4) The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
5) Factotum by Charles Bukowski
6) Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin
7) Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote
8) To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
9) Animal Farm by George Orwell
10) Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
And, because I’m a little bit dopy
11) Gerald’s Party by Robert Coover

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On this list there are some utter stunning books, that I have had the pleasure of reading over the past few months and each has taught or shown me something about reading. Coover, Amis, and Plath all showed me how the writing of classic books can differ so greatly and yet still be incredible reads. Orwell showed me that all of his books are so different in content and yet they can be linked so quickly through the sheer in-depth nature of the meaning interwoven into every single word. Capote gave me one of my favourite books and brought Holly Golightly to life in a way I didn’t expect possible.

Harper Lee and John Steinbeck showed me that not all books taught in education are painful and that I need to go back and look at the books I so quickly dismissed. Reading Alcott finally allowed to me get through a childhood reading block and James Baldwin’s book almost reduced me to tears. Finally Bukowski and Coover showed me that even classics can be incredibly exciting in terms of the style and that I have read nothing like them in any of the contemporary novels I’ve come across so far.

I guess you could say in the last few months I’ve taken my hat and eaten it. I had it all wrong about the classics, but then, when you’re forced to read books it’s unlikely to make it more enjoyable. Being able to choose my own books; Wuthering Heights, (which I have read) and Dickens are unlikely to bring rave reviews but give me grit from Orwell and Bukowski and I’m a happy bunny.

One way to really show my new found love of classic fiction is recently for a Top Ten Tuesday post I was allowed to pick my own topic and, you guessed it, I decided to pick my next ten classics. I have learnt so much through this 101 thing to do and I have created a love of classic fiction which you will definitely be seeing more of as MLBB continues. *eeee*