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Ham on Rye: A Novel | [Charles Bukowski]

Ham on Rye: A Novel

In what is widely hailed as the best of his many novels, Charles Bukowski details the long, lonely years of his own hardscrabble youth in the raw voice of alter ego Henry Chinaski. From a harrowingly cheerless childhood in Germany through acne-riddled high school years, and his adolescent discoveries of alcohol, women, and the Los Angeles Public Library's collection of D. H. Lawrence, Ham on Rye offers a crude, brutal, and savagely funny portrait of an outcast's coming-of-age during the desperate days of the Great Depression.
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Publisher's Summary

In what is widely hailed as the best of his many novels, Charles Bukowski details the long, lonely years of his own hardscrabble youth in the raw voice of alter ego Henry Chinaski. From a harrowingly cheerless childhood in Germany through acne-riddled high school years, and his adolescent discoveries of alcohol, women, and the Los Angeles Public Library's collection of D. H. Lawrence, Ham on Rye offers a crude, brutal, and savagely funny portrait of an outcast's coming-of-age during the desperate days of the Great Depression.

©1982 Charles Bukowski (P)2013 HarperCollinsPublishers

What the Critics Say

"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)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.4 (159 )
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4.5 (142 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Parola138 Czech Republic 12-09-13
    Parola138 Czech Republic 12-09-13 Listener Since 2005

    We bite

    HELPFUL VOTES
    364
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    127
    104
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    27
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    "Thoroughly enjoyed this"

    This is a favorite book that I read maybe fifteen years ago. I was very pleased to read this and other Bukowski titles are now available on Audible. Some of Bukowski's books don't hold up when I revisit them years later, however Ham on Rye is the exception. It is a very blunt, honest tale of fierce aloneness, being anti-social and a struggle to grapple with the madness of the world around him. This book, I don't think, is intended to be funny but I laugh out loud so many times while reading it. At first I wasn't sure how I felt about the narrator, but he grew on me. I don't think I could listen to him narrate any other book, but it fits Bukowski so that after a while you actually feel like its Bukowski reading it to you. I guarantee that you'll never read another book like this. In fact, I feel like it actually gets better as it progresses into the second half. Most books are the opposite. I also recommend Factotum by Bukowski. The beauty in these books is that none of them are very long. I wish they would put some of his poetry into audible like Love is a Dog From Hell or You Get so Alone Sometimes.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Alison Alameda, CA, United States 08-15-13
    Alison Alameda, CA, United States 08-15-13
    HELPFUL VOTES
    11
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    9
    9
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    "Portrait of the Artist as a Brutalized Child"
    What did you love best about Ham on Rye?

    I love the ugly truth of it. It is a stark description of a time and place in American history that rings true in every line. Some of it is shocking, some of it perilously ennervating, sometimes both at the same time. If you are at all familiar with Bukowski's work, you will love this narrative version because it IS Bukowski. Mr. Baskous's narrative is studied and perfect, capturing the crude as well as the lyrical parts of the novel in what I imagine would be just as Bukowski would have wanted it (though I a pretty sure, knowing what I know about Bukowski, he would have complained).


    What did you like best about this story?

    The ugly truth of it. It is timeless in its description of despair of the modern world coupled with tiny lights of joy and happiness that extinguish almost the minute they take light. Nobody does it better than Bukowski.


    Have you listened to any of Christian Baskous’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    I have listened to and really loved some of his other work. I think this series of Bukowski novels will showcase Mr. Baskous's particular talents more than the other work he has done. Mr. Baskous has a feel for this kind of writing, a genuine understanding of its importance and its grace and I look forward to listening to the rest of the series. He knocks this one out of the park, essentially. A truly excellent work of art.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

    Light and Dark in LA


    Any additional comments?

    If you have the guts and the time, buy this audiobook but don't try to listen in your car on the way to your day job. Wait until it is dark and you can listen without interruption.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Stephanie 07-27-15
    Stephanie 07-27-15 Member Since 2015
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    "What a jerk..."

    I listened to this based on a suggestion from someone, because I had never read Bukowski before.

    What a waste of time. Do people really like this guy? The articulation of the story wasn't even good, the narrator's voice is awful, and the main character has no redeeming qualities.

    I don't understand why Bukowski is so popular. I guess I would only suggest this book to someone who likes to wallow in self-pity and only enjoys things that make them more miserable.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Wicked Celtics 07-26-15
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    46
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    "Best performance on Audible"

    At first I wasn't sure how I felt about the performance. Since I knew it wasn't Hank, it felt strange and inauthentic. But about 10 minutes in, I realized that this was the best way to read Bukowski. Christian Baskous is one of the best audiobook performers I've ever heard, and my library includes 250+ titles. Brilliant performance.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    C. Rudder USA 07-19-15
    C. Rudder USA 07-19-15 Member Since 2011

    Political Scientist

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    "Started out great"

    But flagged a bit. Very funny in parts. Lots of fighting. Good perspective on lower working class and on growing up poor.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    sharon blackwell 06-02-15 Member Since 2015

    Lets my imagination wander to listen to audible! It helps me fall asleep too!

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    "could so relate to the struggles of his life"

    I can listen to this book over and over aqain and get something out of it every time.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    jordan 05-04-15
    jordan 05-04-15 Member Since 2014
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    "Inspirational to the tortured soul"

    A book that captivates the sad and the hard times and makes them comical I true Titan of the written word was Charles Bukowski

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    alex 04-11-15
    alex 04-11-15
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    "A truly exuberant story"

    You see Henry's world vividly through the words spoken ever so effortlessly through the narrators voice. The narrator does a fantastic job, and complements the story well. Bukowski does well to depict the struggles of a mans predicaments.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Adam Rower Copenhagen, Denmark 02-24-15
    Adam Rower Copenhagen, Denmark 02-24-15 Member Since 2015
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    "Just great"

    Great narrator! Really captures the feel of fun Bukowski. Great book. Decided to read Ham on Rye as the first of his books. Startet Post Office before, but decided that I should start with this instead for chronological reason. I am very pleased. Bukowski is a master.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Chris C Sydney, Australia 12-22-14
    Chris C Sydney, Australia 12-22-14 Member Since 2012
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    "incredible book, great recording"

    why did I wait so long to check out bukowski, incredible talent and amazing mind. so visceral and raw I felt like I was right there the whole way through.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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