Post Office, by Charles Bukowski
—Grimy and Addictive—
Overall Rating: 4/5 Stars
I expect of myself, while on vacation, to read an entire book as a means by which to detach myself from work (or email and tech in general). Having gone all eight of my vacation days without picking up so much as a pamphlet, I cruised into a little hole-in-the-wall shop on our last day in California and Googled the author’s name of a modest collection of books on the far left of the “Classic Reads” shelf. Seeing that this “Charles Bukowski” was both raved about as an iconic poet and also described as a somewhat Mark Twain type everyman, I picked up his supposed first novel and read it all in one sitting on a plane from California to Hawaii.
First, even as a female, I deeply enjoy a good laugh at others’ misogyny when it is not directed at me, and laugh heartily at old notions of women being bad at math (and laugh at how true those old notions often are). If you can’t appreciate this downtrodden drunk’s objectification of women as he himself grows more old and less desirable, then this is not the book for you.
It took me about 4 hours to get from cover to cover, with bursts of laughter and some serious reflection of my own life’s journey. I can’t tell from this novel how Bukowski ever became known as a poet, as there was not much in this novel to be poetic about other than how heavy a rain-soaked bag of “U.S. mails” is compared to the fullness of Betsy’s bottom, but it is somewhat rare these days to find a novel that can be breezed through in one effortless sitting, so that’s something to be appreciated.
Bukowski does a great job at moving you through 12 years of time. You actually feel the years slip by, just as they have for this unambitious cad. You will very much feel just by the pace of the novel that you are aging with the narrator, ignoring times that are not worth remembering, and noticing the unique qualities of days that you do remember–and it will leave you wondering why those moments were so impactful.