See, I always thought that although his novels were great, his poetry and shorts were on another level. Maybe I'm wrong, but it's been my impression that Buke was first and foremost a poet. His novels are a fun, quick, easy read, but they almost seem to me like a cut&paste job from his poetry and shorts.
I remember reading somewhere that he wrote the novels on his publisher's promptings because they were an easier sell than the poetry and shorts. More money.
With that said, I loved Post Office, Hollywood and Pulp. Pulp was fucking brilliant. Like candy.
For shorts, I loved Hot Water Music, South of No North and Betting on the Muse, which is great cause it also has poetry.
I read them in order of Henry growing up and getting older and then I hit Pulp.
I also would buy the bandini Quartet too. Although Bukowski in my eyes is a better writer than Fante, you can clearly see Fante in Bukowski too. Its not whos best, they are both great and Check out Dan Fante too. (Chump Change and Corksucker are great)
I got a bit of a shock last week when I emailed Dan Fante and he replied! almost feel off my chair! I now have my corksucker book with my email conversation inside
POST OFFICE is my second favorite Bukowski novel. FACTOTUM isn't great by comparison, but it isn't bad either. its just like alot of shorter stories all pulled together for one common theme: bumming around trying to find work. I liked WOMEN, but still don't think it was as good as HOR or PO. I'd say go to some poetry and short stories, then move on to more novels. i'd recommend THE MOST BEAUTIFUL WOMAN IN TOWN and/or TALES OF ORDINARY MADNESS.
but let's not forget NOTES OF A DIRTY OLD MAN. its a mix of essays and stories, the second Buk Book i ever bought. its very humorous and also very intriguing...a good way to get a good look inside his head and how he thought.
Well, the novels are certainly the most accessible (in general), but don't shun the poem or the short story. If you're just not into the poem thing, then try the short story. My favorite is South of No North, but they are all good.
If you must stick with the novel (they go fast, and then they're gone, you know, until you read them for the second and third time...), then here's a general hierarchy (in no particular order within groups):
Ham on Rye
Mixed/Not so Good?!!?
I actually love Factotum, some of his funniest lines ever.
Of course this is all very general and subjective. Some think Pulp is his best novel, and I liked that one very much too.
the first thing i read from him was the short story "bring me your love". I loved it so much because it had a great truth to it. you cant judge other peoples drama because you dont know the whole truth, its not always as simple as what is blatantly obvious. the whole time i was reading, i was thinking, this woman is a psycho!! what a b!tch, her husband is so sweet, poor guy! well i wont ruin it for you if you havent read it but i loved. maybe i could relate to that psycho chick!! haha
my fav poem is "alone with everyone"
***it just reminds me of being single haha
fav book so far is post office, i have quite a few more to read so i will check out your suggestions.
ps i have yet to randomly meet someone who likes bukowski lol
It's short stories and poems, of course, but I began two years ago with Septuagenarian Stew (picked it up off a shelf at Borders at random) and ended up working my way backward (unknowingly). I wouldn't recommend it, but it was interesting getting to know Buk from his old age to his youth...as if he were telling me his story by reaching further and further back into his mind--from his freshest memories to the ones he had to exhume, so-to-speak.
It's short stories and poems, of course, but I began two years ago with Septuagenarian Stew (picked it up off a shelf at Borders at random) and ended up working my way backward (unknowingly). I wouldn't recommend it, but it was interesting getting to know Buk from his old age to his youth...
I started with "Septuagenarian Stew" and "Roominghouse Madrigals" and worked back. "Burning in Water" and "Pleasures of the Damned" are both good choices. (As I don't have all my CB books in one place I can't check how many poems in the latter have been "Martinized", which makes me a little uneasy. And I read to read not to sit with two books comparing texts - not if I'm reading casually or for pleasure...)
I agree w/ skiroomalum. I think that the novels, really all Buk's work, is/are very good in varying degrees. Just read on and be wary of the material published after Buk's death. If you haven't seen the multiple threads discussing that subject search for it. I'm at work and being lazy; otherwise I'd post a link.
I feel like we have 20 threads about recommendations, but of course I can't find one to guide you to at the moment. We should gather all those threads up, combine them and make one sticky mega thread at the top of this forum.
I started out reading short stories like Tales of Ordinary Madness, Notes of a Dirty Old Man, etc... Then moved to poems and novels. It's all subjective. Just hit your local library and check out a few random books. You'll either get it or you won't.
It isn't perfect, no. But is context important in a book recommendation thread? In any event, these threads were usually far enough apart in time where the posts don't overlap each other. Ultimately I guess I don't understand how any of these threads have any usefulness at all, when by the end of the thread every book he ever wrote has been recommended.