Best Bukowski Books

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Best Bukowski Books

Bukowski, Henry Charles, was a well-known author, poet, and short-story writer. “Post Office,” “Factotum,” “Women,” and “Ham on Rye” were among his best-selling works. When Buk was only 24, he released his first short story, “Aftermath of a Lengthy Rejection Slip,” in the monthly Story. He focused his writing on everyday Americans’ life, drinking, female relationships, and work challenges. Few are the writers who have managed to make cult status seem like super-stardom. In 1986, Time magazine labeled him the “laureate of American lowlife,” and he was born in Germany but lived in Los Angeles, where he developed a fixation with two topics in specific: sexuality and narcotics. Bukowski left a large corpus of writing as a talented author of both stories and poems. Bukowski’s narrative voice was distinct, and he was well aware that he wasn’t a “wonderful” novelist. Furthermore, his most recent work, “Pulp,” was dedicated to terrible writing. So, have a look at our selection of the top 10 Bukowski books, since you’ll really want to read at least a few of them. This is where you should begin.

1. Hollywood


Henry Chinaski, Bukowski’s alternate persona, is pressed into writing a script for John Pinchot based on a semi-autobiographical novel. He unwillingly accepts and is forced into the bizarre and perplexing world of Hollywood, complete with directors, painters, celebrities, film managers, and reporters. The book “Hollywood” starts with a proposition from a filmmaker, who provides Chinaski, the lead, the opportunity to write a script. Bukowski takes us on a dramatized journey through the process of writing and producing the film “Barfly.” He also expressed his thoughts on all of the entanglement that had enveloped him from the start. The author depicts a particularly sardonic component of the film-making process. Nevertheless, if you admire his unusual style of writing or want to read a realistic work about Celebrity life, you’ll enjoy this one. But, if you haven’t seen the movie yet, you should do so after you’ve finished reading the story. Mickey Rourke is the film’s major character.

2. Pulp


The novel “Pulp” is Bukowski’s final work. It was released shortly after his passing in 1994. Buk takes his audience on one final journey into well-known realms of mortality, lunacy, and sex, all while delving into those topics in inventive ways. Buk devoted his fiction novel “Pulp” to “poor writing.” The premise revolves around a complicated detective novel about a tough detective who solves his investigations by waiting. As a nod to himself, Buk constructs the imaginary figure Raymond Chandler, a Los Angeles-based writer who, like Bukowski, sets his works there. Buk also contributed more brutality, sarcasm, and pessimism than normal because he knew death was on the horizon. A lesser-known truth is that this song was inspired by the novel “Pulp” by a Chicago rock band called “Alkaline Trio.” The book is written in a very unique way and fans of the iconic author will definitely enjoy it the most.

3. Factotum


This unique, wonderfully depraved novel by Charles Bukowski recounts the explorations of aspiring author Henry Chinaski around America during World War II. Chinaski, who has been excused from service in the military, wanders from place to place, hopping from one strange employment to the next, always in need of cash but never desperately enough to retain a job. As he weaves his sour, bright way from one glass to the next, his daily life spirals into an infinite cycle of sad hookers, dirty lodgings, gloomy hugs, and bar fights. Charles Bukowski’s legacy continues to expand even after his death. Factotum is a wonderful entry to the fictional universe of Bukowski and a masterfully evocative portrayal of slow-paced, low-life urban life and drinking. One of Bukowski’s best works, “Factotum,” was adapted into a film of the same name. The book is very popular due to its raw demeanor and unique writing style.

4. Women


“Women,” written by Buk once again, is a beautiful tale with Henry Chinaski as its center. In this one, Buk depicts Chinaski’s later years, when he had already established himself as a well-known poet and author. However, he was unable to maintain consistency in both his professional and personal lives. So, even in his fifties, he managed to maintain his bumptious lifestyle, complete with many hangovers and a slew of useless “women of the night.” As a result, he portrayed Chinaski’s dissatisfaction with every new lady he meets. This is a sequel to his previous two novels, “Factotum” and “Post Office.” Surprisingly, the lady on the book jacket was drawn by Bukowski himself. This 1978 follow-up to Post Office and Factotum is an unflinching description of living on the edge, with all of Bukowski’s signature humor and raw, grim sincerity.

5. The Days Run Away Like Horses

The Days Run Away Like Horses

One of Bukowski’s first and perhaps best pieces of poetry is “The Days Run Away Like Wild Horses Over The Hills.” Buk devoted it to his first love, Jane, and revealed a more sensitive side of his personality to readers. He made this compilation in which he penned lovely words for Jane while also expressing his anguish over her loss by drinking. We can see how Buk hides his compassionate side behind the harsh older man’s façade when we read those poems. The romantic aura of this book is very refreshing and makes it a delightful read as Bukowski moves away from his usual style. The book has been very popular as one of Bukowski’s most famous works and the poems also help to explore a more emotional and softer side of the author which he does not show out much in his works.

6. Ham On Rye

Ham on Rye

In the unvarnished tone of alter ego Henry Chinaski, Charles Bukowski recounts the lengthy, solitary years of his own poverty-stricken youth in what is largely regarded as the finest of his many books. Ham on Rye is a simplistic, brutish, and viciously funny portrayal of an outcast’s coming-of-age during the dire weeks of the Great Depression, from his hauntingly joyless childhood in Germany to his pimple filled high school years and his early adolescence discoveries of liquor, woman, and the Los Angeles Public Library’s D.H. Lawrence compilation. He sends Henry to a private school where he won’t fit in with the other spoilt, wealthy students who are whatever he isn’t. At the very same time, Buk described Henry’s horrible acne issue in a very straightforward fashion. Chinaski became an outcast and drowned his inner demons in booze as a result of his family problems and inability to integrate into society. The book is definitely one of Bukowski’s best.

7. Post Office

Post Office

Bukowski’s first and finest work, “Post Office,” was published in 1971. When he was five decades old, he released this English language masterpiece, which catapulted him to national prominence. Bukowski penned a narrative about Henry Chinaski, his alter ego, trying to get a job at the Los Angeles Post Office. The story starts with a not-so-enticing, but Buk-styled opening line: ‘It all started as a blunder.’ Henry Chinaski, the primary protagonist, has spent more than a decade working for the US Postal Service. Buk portrays Chinaski’s wandering from location to location, getting through life with drinks and ladies, once again with a strange sense of humor and sardonic perspectives. This book is an excellent introduction to the world of famed author, lyricist, and Filthy Old Man Charles Bukowski and his imaginary alter ego, Chinaski.

8. Love is a Dog From Hell

Love is a Dog From Hell

The poetry anthology “Love Is a Dog from Hell” was written by Bukowski in the mid-1970s and displays his unique manner of writing poems. This book is also highly recommended because it includes some of his best poems. Buk’s style of writing was straightforward, and he never employed complication in his explanations. Apart from that, this phrase from “Love Is a Dog from Hell” supports his convenience: “It’s so easy to be easy—if you allow it.” Love Is a Dog from Hell is a gritty, poetic study of the demands, disappointments, and boundaries of love that has become a masterpiece in the Bukowski poetry archive.

9. The Last Night of The Earth Poems

The Last Night of The Earth Poems

Every Buk fan’s favorite poetry collection is most certainly “The Last Night of the Earth.” Even though he was in his sixties at the time, he wrote it in a distinct style that gave his readers a glimpse into his life. The collection is approximately 400 pages long and contains a number of poems, notably the well-known “Bluebird.” The Last Night of the Earth Poems strips away the corrosive armor, allowing the fragile heart to beat out language without dread or rejection.

10. Notes of a Dirty Old Man

Notes of a Dirty Old Man

Bukowski wrote for the underground journal “Open City” in the late 1960s, and “Notes Of A Dirty Old Man” is a compilation of his essays. It contains a variety of pieces in which he expressed his thoughts on the world at the moment. Bukowski wrote openly about a wide range of subjects, including homicide, abuse, rape, drunkenness, and a variety of other problematic topics. There are some great and genuine short stories, as well as many wild and strange ones.

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