While I have read many books of poetry by Bukowski, this is my first time reading one of his actual novels, which I picked up on a whim. While I was reading, I took notes, because the things I wanted to bring up became too overwhelming for me to simply remember. Here are the things that really stood out to be about this 200+ page novel:
The speaker, Henry Chinaski (Bukowski's alter-ego):
- Refers to a neighborhood as a 'black area' and a woman there as 'high yellow'
- Refers to another black character as a "little monkey"
- Refers to a Japanese woman as a "slant-eyed squaw"
- Backhands his girlfriend off of a barstool and says that he "tried to make a woman out of her, but all she'll ever be is a whore"
- Tells one woman that nobody would believe he raped her
- Says that if he was "any kind of man" he would rape another woman whom he just met
- Says he must be "turning fag" after cleaning his apartment
- Uses the term 'dyke' multiple times
I am giving this two stars instead of one simply because while I believe Bukowski to be racist, misogynistic and gross, I read through this in no time at all. I could not put it down. Chinasky's gross, dirty, lonely life of abusing alcohol and going through dozens of jobs in a short period of time made for an interesting read if nothing else, and although I often found myself cringing and sighing at the language and scenarios written into the novel to the point where I could not enjoy it, what I did enjoy was the way that it was written and Bukowski's voice. This novel left me wanting to read something written with the same tone, perhaps even something else by Bukowski, which did not contain the harmful scenarios and language present in 'Factotum'.