A perpetually unemployed alcoholic. Henry Chinaski drifts through the seedy city streets of lower-class LA in search of a job. Factotum takes place in 1944 and follows the life of Chinaski in his search for a job that will not separate him from his writing. He is consistently rejected by the only publishing house he respects but he is driven by the knowledge that he could do better than the authors they publish.
When they call Charles Bukowski’s Factotum a beer-soaked, deliciously degenerate novel they are not lying. Bukowski is known for the literary movement Dirty Realism; a movement that often focuses on transgressive fiction in a very raw and interesting way. The willingness to try and portray forbidden behaviours and shock readers is what makes Factotum such a great read.
Henry Chinaski is Charles Bukowski alter ego so you suspect this is a semi-autobiographical novel that tries to capture not only his uncompromising love for writing but the isolation and loneliness he must feel. The emotional honesty that pours out in this book is both heart-breakingly beautiful but also very refreshing. I’ve yet to find a novel that displays that kind of reality in the way Bukowski does.
I really want to read more books by Charles Bukowski, I’m trying to track down Ham on Rye but my library doesn’t have it and my semi book buying ban for the year really makes it difficult to obtain. I really look forward to reading it, as I was recommended both books by a reliable source. I’m sure Post Office, Hollywood or Pulp will be worth reading but since I was recommended Ham on Rye I really want that to be my next dip into Bukowski’s mind, but maybe it won’t turn out that way.
Factotum is gritty and raw; I enjoyed everything about it and it was a quick read that I really didn’t want to end. Henry Chinaski is a great character; his low-life urbanity and alcoholism makes him a great guide into the seedy underbelly. I would love to know what Charles Bukowski’s other novels are like; do any of my readers enjoy his works and could maybe recommend something similar?