The streets were full of insane and dull people. Most of them lived in nice houses and didn’t seem to work, and you wondered how they did it.
There’s a definite skill in making the tedious engaging, and Bukowski does exactly that with his autobiographical Henry Chinaski, a postal worker who likes the horses, women and booze. Oh boy does he like to booze.
All Bukowski does is chart his (Chinaski’s) time in the postal service, with occasional trips to the track, horrendously hungover morning shifts, and a string of doomed relationships but it makes for great reading.
The various people that he comes into contact with, from his bastard boss, to a sexual deviant colleague that talks too loud. His string of characters each beautifully crafted with their own intricacies and flaws make this so compelling.
It is this that I found so beautiful from Bukowski, indeed what I could relate to most.
I’ve worked some bad jobs; working in a supermarket used to bore me to tears; running school holiday activity days I was surrounded by screaming, stinking children for up to ten hours a day; when I worked at a paintball place I was shot at by teenagers and eaten by horseflies.
Now these were not appalling in the grand scheme of things, but I couldn’t spend nearly 20 years doing them, like Charles did.
I stuck these jobs out partly due to necessity, partly because I was too lazy to find a better alternative- but mainly because the people there were fascinating. As a drunkard mook I know the first two apply to Chinaski, and from his writing you can tell just how intriguing he found people, too.
Similarly my favourite jobs have come from the amazing people that you get randomly slung into spending up to 16 hours a day with, or for the weirdos that frequent these establishments.
So if you’ve worked menial, brain-bleedingly dull jobs jobs, or hate how people are always there, making noise and being smelly, or love how weird and complex every individual has the potential to be, give this a read.