Charles Bukowski Ham on Rye – Review
Synopsis: For Henry Chinaski -the protagonist of this work-, what can be worse than growing up in the United States of the post-1929 recession is being poor, of German origin, having many pimples, an authoritarian father bordering on psychopathy, a passive and ignorant mother, no girlfriend and, ahead, just the prospect of serving as cheap labor in a world less and less conducive to sensitive and problematic people.
Ham on Rye, the book that broke my heart
I finished reading this book about two weeks ago, and believe me, I'm still in shock at how much this book has marked. I had probably never read a book that cut me so deep and make me understand so many things about my own life and the way the world works – or that it doesn't.
The book describes in immense detail the entire life of Henry Chinaski from childhood to 18 years. Perhaps for this reason this book is so remarkable, it is during this period that we form many of our opinions about the world and learn a series of behaviors.
Did someone say love?
Something that is very visible since the beginning of the book, is how the lack of love at home can guide the course of life and behavior of a person. Early on, Henry realizes he's different from other kids – they smile, he doesn't. Little by little this starts to take care of him, with aggressive attitudes and a difficulty in liking other people.
In his own words, his father is a little more than nothing, in front of that it is visible that his father takes out all the anger he has for the world and people on his son - most likely he was raised in the same way, and I wanted this story it was just fiction and it didn't happen daily to different people.
How many breaks did I really take?
At the same time that this whole story involving all of our protagonist's childhood and adolescence involved me, it also gave me an absurd tightness in my stomach, as if years of misunderstood things, both in relation to me and in relation to others, were coming it surfaced like a meteor that passes through the atmosphere about to end all life on the planet.
This is that kind of book that makes you cry without shedding a single tear – that's the best expression I can come up with after spending three weeks thinking about everything I've read and finally coming back to share my opinion.
why this book is so important
This wonderful work helps us to understand, and a lot, why certain things are the way they are in adult life. I particularly think the title choice is brilliant, as it is simple, a hot mix is something you can find anywhere, and is even despised by certain people, which fits perfectly with the events of the story.
A symbolic act that may perhaps go unnoticed by the less attentive is when Henry's father discovers his tales and throws all of his things on the street, including everything he wrote and your typewriter. His father, who borders on psychopathy, is rejecting for the last time, not only his son but also all his sensibility that doesn't fit well in that world.
Do I recommend this book? With all my strength
As the preface says, anyone who has not read Ham on Rye has not read Bukowski, and when you read this book, you will understand exactly why this line is not exaggerated. After reading Ham on Rye, a whole new light will fall on Bukowski's works and you will understand his love for these fringe characters so well that it will be impossible to get rid of him.
What a painful time those years were – to have the desire and the need to live, but not the ability.Charles Bukowski