Ham on Rye

Ham on Rye : A Novel

4.16 (57,518 ratings on Goodreads)
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Legendary barfly Charles Bukowski's fourth novel, first published in 1982, is probably the most autobiographical and moving of all his books, dealing in particular with his difficult relationship with his father and his early childhood in LA. "Ham on Rye" follows the path of Bukowski's alter-ego Henry Chinaski through the high school years of acne and rejection and into the beginning of a long and successful career in alcoholism. The novel begins against the backdrop of an America devastated by the Depression and takes the Chinaski legend up to the bombing of Pearl Harbour. Arguably Bukowski's finest novel.show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 336 pages
  • 128 x 196 x 22mm | 340.19g
  • Canongate Books Ltd
  • Rebel inc.
  • Edinburgh, United Kingdom
  • English
  • Main ed
  • 1841951633
  • 9781841951638
  • 11,541

Review quote

* Very funny, very sad, and despite its self-congratulatory tone, honest in most of the right places. In many ways, Bukowski may have been the perfect writer to describe post-war southern California - a land of wide, flat spaces with nothing worth seeing, so you might as well vanish into yourself. In an age of conformity, Bukowski wrote about the people nobody wanted to be: the ugly, the selfish, the lonely, the mad. The Observer * Sometimes funny and always sad, Ham on Rye is written in an admirably hard, bare, vivid style. It offers grim insights into the construction of masculinity and American life between the wars. Doyle's introduction is excellent. Times Literary Supplement * Both powerful and, where appropriate, extremely funny. Sunday Telegraph * The largely autobiographical Ham On Rye is also suprisingly reflective, humane, tremendously evocative and absorbingly readable. The Timesshow more

About Charles Bukowski

Charles Bukowski, who died in 1994, was the legendary Californian writer who became famous for his semi-autobiographical books about low-life America. Novels such as Factotum and Post Office made this one-time bum, and lifelong alcoholic, rich and famous, and culminated in the making of Barfly, a major Hollywood movie based on his life starring Mickey Rourke and Faye Dunaway.show more

Our customer reviews

I love this book. For me it brings the whole Bukowski puzzle together meaning that I finally get what it is that people love about him. The book is well written, funny, thoughtful and honest. In a way I wish that I had read it sooner so that I would of had more empathy for his other stories and characters but then I think: Well it's a lot like life isn't it? First you meet the asshole, hate him, then you learn what it is that made him this way and learn to love the beast. I truly love this book and am glad to have spent three glorious days with it.show more
by kathleen Galvin
<p>Charles Bukowski's fourth novel, <em>Ham on Rye</em>, is the semi-autobiographical story of the early years of his alter ego Henry Chinaski. As ever with Bukowski, this is muscular, direct writing at its colloquial best. It is also an unflinchingly honest account of the painful childhood of a boy marked out from his peers. Regularly beaten by his father, Chinaski is shown growing through his difficult and violent adolescence (struck with the worst case of acne his doctors have ever seen) through to the first jobs he can't and won't hold down. In this moving story of growing up, Bukowski disciplines his no-nonsense prose and creates a novel that distils his street-poetry into the finest full-length piece of writing that he ever produced. Bukowski is often good, but in <em>Ham on Rye</em> he's great.</p> <p>Sadly, best known as the alcoholic inspiration for the film Barfly (an experience he reflected on in his book Hollywood), it is as a poet, rather than a drunk, that Bukowski should be best remembered. His bitter, caustic, direct, humane, damaged poetry reflects a life dominated by poverty and booze. His poetry stretches over many, many volumes but Bukowski also wrote great novels: all of them have many faults but the first four books he wrote shine for similar reasons. <em>Post Office</em> and <em>Factotum</em> both dissect, quite brilliantly, the life of an angry, poor man forced to do mindless jobs, pushed around and considered mindless by the fools who force him to do them. <em>Women</em>, as Roddy Doyle points out in his short introduction, continues the themes, but focuses on the numerous women who share his hero's bed and bottle, and is marred by its misgogyny. <em>Ham on Rye</em>, however, is the place where Bukowski gets it just right; and if you've not had the pleasure, it is the place to start reading him.</p>show more
by Mark Thwaite
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