Purple Stickpin -- Help me out. What exactly (or inexactly) is the real writing and which is the fluff?
I didn't express that very well. What I meant was that Buk's written words are really all that's important to me. None of his writing is fluff to me; I was getting at the readings mostly. Buk always wrote about how much he hated doing readings, and from what I've seen, I think I enjoy them about as much as he did.
You mentioned that you got into Buk by seeing Barfly. In my opinion, that's one of his very few weak works. Mainly because it's the same sort of story he wrote about brilliantly elsewhere, but he had to fit it into a genre that I don't think suited him all that well. It's not a bad movie, especially compared to much of the drivel out there, but compared to the brilliance of the rest of Buk's stuff, it really pales in comparison to me. And let's face it, in the late 50s-early 60s, Buk wasn't hanging with the likes of Faye Dunaway.
Anyway, personally, I would save Ham on Rye for a bit later. I read that well after reading Post Office, Factotum and Women. It really worked for me to see who he was first, and then read Ham on Rye for a more complete explanation of why/how he got there. If you'd prefer to read his life more chronologically (in terms of novels), read in order: Ham on Rye, Factotum, Post Office, Women. Pulp takes place in another time continuum. ;)
Don't forget South of No North either.
Just some thoughts