Regular price: $27.37

Free with 30-day trial
Membership details Membership details
  • A 30-day trial plus your first audiobook, free
  • 1 credit/month after trial – good for any book, any price
  • Easy exchanges – swap any book you don’t love
  • Keep your audiobooks, even if you cancel
  • After your trial, Audible is just $14.95/month
OR
In Cart

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

Critic Reviews

"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 Ratings

Overall

  • 4.5 out of 5.0
  • 5 Stars
    386
  • 4 Stars
    159
  • 3 Stars
    37
  • 2 Stars
    12
  • 1 Stars
    6

Performance

  • 4.6 out of 5.0
  • 5 Stars
    410
  • 4 Stars
    92
  • 3 Stars
    34
  • 2 Stars
    11
  • 1 Stars
    7

Story

  • 4.5 out of 5.0
  • 5 Stars
    351
  • 4 Stars
    146
  • 3 Stars
    40
  • 2 Stars
    13
  • 1 Stars
    7
Sort by:
  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

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.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Alison
  • Asheville, NC, United States
  • 08-15-13

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.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Kevin
  • Austin, TX
  • 08-18-14

**6 Stars!**

Where does Ham on Rye rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

#1

What did you like best about this story?

The candidness of the author

What about Christian Baskous’s performance did you like?

So good I imagined I was listening to Bukowski read the story himself.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

The overall writing style was what captured me. I could tell that Bukowski was influenced by Hemingway.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Great book!

I loved the book and I enjoyed the narration just wasn't very keen on the voice he'd make for other characters.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Chris C
  • Sydney, Australia
  • 12-22-14

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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

A slice of a life - wryly comedic; ham on rye



Growing up poor, His parents send him to the rich kids high school with the unreasonable expectation that he will benefit and be accepted.
He is physically Scarred by Acne and treated by doctors Who treat him as a damaged object that they don’t quite know how to fix.
He is Emotionally scarred by Acne’s Effect on his relationships with peers and the world in general.
Escape for him is found in fiction and alcohol. He becomes a reader and a writer. Set in the 1930s. Copyright 2017 WKK



  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Bukowski is REAL

People tend to laud and trumpet Salinger as the quintessential book of the despondent teenager. I think the reason they do this is Bukowski is either too dirty or too depressing. The reader does a good job capturing Bukowski's signature style, as well as a pretty passable imitation of his voice. A brief, filthy, beautiful joy to read. Life is hilarious, terrible, and occasionally beautiful, and one is hard pressed to find any author that understands that more then Bukowski.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

wow

This is such a great book. He really knows how to connect with us as people and give you a look back into the old day.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

edgy and the hard truth

loved it it had overtones of how my life has been growing up with a disdain for humans and a taste for addictions