Quick Book Review: “Factotum” by Charles Bukowski

Last year I finally got around to reading Bukowski.  I read Post Office, and then Ham on Rye.  I liked the straightforward, gritty no-nonsense style of both books.  Factotum has that same style, but it wasn’t nearly as interesting as those others.  I’m sure some of that has to do with my getting used to some of the content, which at first can be a little shocking.  This book has all of the same kind of stuff: endless tales of booze, women, shit, vomit and violence (including a sex scene that is waaaay beyond disgusting.) Compared to those others, however, this book was just too tedious for me.  The protagonist (Bukowski’s alter-ego, Henry Chinaski) goes through an endless series of dead-end jobs.  He applies for a job, gets the job, hates the job, and either quits or gets fired.  The jobs are boring, and his descriptions of the jobs are dull and mechanical.  The petty bosses he works for and the strange faceless coworkers he encounters all blend together after a while. Apply for the job, get the job, lose the job.  Over and over again.  In those first books, I found his candor refreshing, and I liked his take on the absurdities of modern life.  You really got a feel for life during the Great Depression, and could empathize a little with the protagonist, given the struggles he went through growing up.  In this book, there was none of that.  Just the usual misogyny, serious boozing, some gross descriptions of sex, and endless job hirings and firings that wore me down by the end of the book. 

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