Low-life writer and unrepentant alcoholic Henry Chinaski was born to survive. After decades of slacking off at low-paying dead-end jobs, blowing his cash on booze and women, and scrimping by in flea-bitten apartments, Chinaski sees his poetic star rising at last. Now, at 50, he is reveling in his sudden rock-star life, running 300 hangovers a year, and maintaining a sex life that would cripple Casanova.
With all of Bukowski's trademark humor and gritty, dark honesty, this 1978 follow-up to Post Office and Factotum is an uncompromising account of life on the edge.
©1978 Charles Bukowski (P)2013 HarperCollinsPublishers
"One of those writers whom each new reader discovers with a transgressive thrill." (New Yorker)
"A laureate of American low life" (Time)
"The ultimate Bukowski novel, packed with hilarious episodes." (Uncut)
I'm so thrilled that Audible finally has Bukowski. Dreams DO come true. Now, they just need to put about 20 more of his books on here. Where is "Love is a Dog From Hell?"
Anyway... about Women. I think you have to already be a fan of Bukowski to enjoy this. It's typical of his work. Entertaining romps around California with booze and women. This would be a better book if it was half as long. Ironically, the book itself feels like some of the passages where Bukowski is having marathon episodes with some of these women and can't...um finish. I like the book because I already like Bukowski. But if you're breaking into him, start with Hot Water Music or Ham on Rye please.
I think if I read this when I was much younger, I might have found it a bit rebellious and exciting. All the sex, drugs and... rock 'n roll poetry. But I just found that one sexual encounter after another got a bit repetitive and sometimes boring. Yet there was something alluring about it also, and it dipped in and out of places that had a lot more depth than some old drunk fucking yet another notch on a bed post.
The protagonist, Henry Chinaski is a womanising drunk. I know I’m supposed be repelled by him, but he’s one of those enigmas; a character who is repulsive yet also possesses an odd magnetic charm. There’s a gritty honesty, an acerbic wit, and a couldn’t-give-a-fuck-what-anyone-else-thinks approach to life that I can’t help admiring and envying in people like this.
His attitude to women is also a bit of an enigma. I think it would be too easy to look at how Chinaski treats women, and dismiss him as a misogynist. And going by some reviews, many have. But that’s too black and white. How can you call someone a woman hater who also so clearly LOVES women emphatically. Good / bad. Black / white. Evil / goodness. It’s somewhere in that grey area that lie truly interesting characters. And I think that’s what makes Women an interesting read even if it did get quite repetitive in places.
As for the narrator. It was a perfect tone. This guy spends the whole book sounding hungover and grumpy.
Nobody lays it out in front of you as clearly as Bukowsi. So many of his observations and depictions of how men and different types of women interact are very accurate. Some of Chinasky's comments and observations are insightful and point out things that are right in front you in life, but you've never put together. Also, I feel like the longer you've lived and the more women you've had in and out of your life the more you will relate with his story. I will be listening again.
"Women" ranks very high on the list of audiobooks I have listened to, though it was kind of rough slogging. Mr. Baskous turned in an astonishing performance of this almost pornographic novel - it is clear to the knowledgeable fan of Bukowski's work that Mr. Baskous did his homework with regard to Bukowski's voice and mannerisms. Like all of Bukowski's work, "Women" is raw in its narrative style with frank descriptions of the hero's sexual acts. Be ready for some words you don't hear often except on premium cable tv. What makes this novel "not" pornography is Bukowski's surprise that his art inspires hot young women to seek him out for sex. His wonder at his own power to command the attention of women from all over the world is childlike, as if his juvenile yet authentic (and autobiographical) scribblings were getting an A grade from the sexiest teacher in the whole seventh grade. The subtext of this novel is "I can't believe she came all this way to fuck a guy as ugly as me!"
It is essentially a love story.
Mr. Baskous brought everything to this story. He has Bukowski's voice down. I mean really, really DOWN. I can't imagine anybody doing it better. This is a master work of tremendous power. You would have to go to Bukowski himself to experience a more accomplished piece of voice narrative.
The Poet Reborn
Take this one slowly. It is scarrifying in its brutal description of sex acts. If you tend to see, and are easily offended by, anti-woman attitudes in popular fiction, this book is not for you. If you can see through the brutality to discover the hero's search for real love, you will be overwhelmed by the power of this audiobook.
The narrator, Christian Baskous, embodies the authors quirks, humor, and characters. He gives a wonderful performance.
Bukowski's writing is minimalist and direct. Hemmingway, Chandler, and Fante are legitimate points of origin.
Hank and Lydia.
WOMEN is worth a whirl just for how well Christian Baskous gives life to the characters, his spot on narration mixed with Bukowski's absolutely raw writing, will keep you in stiches.
I suppose on some level it's the story how Bukowski met his wife. On another it's his honesty. If I had to say anything about Bukowski it's that he's the most honest man I ever read or listened to. There's something to chew on if one wanted to put it there, enough is put forth that one could argue about: love, sex, abuse, relationships, cycles of abuse, misandry, misogyny, outright misanthropes. But, in all the horror, Bukowski really paints a lovely portrait - once we embrace warts and all, in a non-pretentious manner, we're not a terrible sort. I suppose. The other way to look at his style is to just take it at face value and move on.
There's moments near the end, I suppose his inner turmoil at his true nature, where he gets to be much worse than all the women who abused him early on. I sort of came to detest him in the last hour of the audiobook, he redeems himself in some ways. But, that's not something it seems he'd really care about anyway.
Audiobooks are my jam. I enjoy comedy, autobiographies, a bit of sci-fi and horror, and informative non-fiction.
I've tried to read the text of this book and just couldn't get into it. However, having this narrator read it nonchalantly worked and I finished it. I don't think I'd listen to it again, but it was a good performance and I appreciate Bukowski's disregard for complicated prose and established literature.
Blatant misogyny aside, this book completely lacks plot and character development. All you need to know is that a grimy, old, egocentric alcoholic sleeps with a slew of insecure, substance-addicted, white trash women.
A boring, emotionless, repetitive collection of dirty stories. Disappointing, the same gimmicks applied to poetry work for Bukowski, in my opinion, but in novel format just seem gross, base, and depressing.
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