Listening to Bob Harris Country last Thursday, I was really captivated by Tom Russell talking about Charles Bukowski. I didn’t know anything about Bukowski, except having a vague idea that he might be something to do with the beat poets. Anyway, I was intruiged enough to go out and buy Post Office , Bukowski’s grittily written account of working for the US post office as a relief postman and then as a clerk whilst being almost permanently drunk, gambling and womanizing.
It began as a mistake.
A great opening line to hook you in, reminiscent of Hammett or Chandler, except this isn’t a crime story. Brilliant muscular writing about snagging with petty authority figures, trudging around delivering letters to lunatics in the pouring rain, mean and manipulative men and women, making money at the track, routine, boredom, cheating the system.
One of the best things I’ve read in a while, I don’t mind saying. Completely non-boring. I’ve now gone out and bought Ham on Rye , which I’m really looking forward to, as well as a book of poems: You Get So Alone At Times That It Just Makes Sense . Comments to further remedy my Bukowski-related ignorance (or my Tom Russell-related ignorance for that matter) would be most welcome.