Post Office

post office cover charles bukowski novel
9.0 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Characters: 9/10

Good introduction to Bukowski, quick read

Not a huge fan of the dialogue which seems forced

Book Info

Book Name:  Post Office

Publisher:  Black Sparrow Press

Writer:  Charles Bukowski

Release Date:   February 8, 1971

charles bukowski writer

Guy knew how to party…

Henry Chinaski is a simple man.  He likes to drink, smoke, and have fun.  When a holiday mail route gets him some action with one of the women on his route, Henry thinks it could be a good gig and starts his official job at the post office.  While butting heads with his superiors, Henry trudges up and down the hills of his route on the quest for enough money to keep him drunk and having fun.  Henry finds delivering mail might not be as simple as he believed and that a mere “pastime” could take control of his life.

Written by Charles Bukowski and published in 1971, Post Office is presented as a work of fiction but dips heavily into Bukowski’s real life experiences in dealing with the post office and his superiors there where he worked from 1952 to 1955 and then later from 1958 to 1969.

The story is very conversational with a very simple straight forward telling.  Bukowski paints Henry (or himself) as a guy that gives very little interest to his work.  He is simply doing his job as a means to make ends meet.  The Henry character shows up and is mentioned again in other novels, stories, poems, and films including South of No North (1973), Factotum (1975), Women (1978), Ham on Rye (1982), Hot Water Music (1983), Hollywood (1989), Septuagenarian (1990), and Pulp (1994).  Other reoccurring characters include Betty (Jane Cooney Baker who also was used for Wanda in the film Barfly with Mickey Rourke as Chinaski) and his wife Joyce (Barbara Frye).

post office cover harper collins charles bukowski novel

Harper-Collins Edition

Bukowski uses a weird blend of fiction and reality it is hard to say what is real and fictional in the book.  Do we believe he is a functioning alcoholic that’s sheer bravado wins over women?  It is a bit unclear.  If he talks like he does in the book, that doesn’t help that idea.  I feel that the dialogue of the character is a bit weak, though I like how he thinks and his descriptions of events occurring.  There is something about the dialogue and some of his speeches which seems more childish and forced and a bit below the level set by the book.

I think an interesting aspect of the novel is Bukowski’s view of the post office itself.  Despite his complaints and mumblings, the mail does get delivered (although it might come really, really late…and even slightly burned).  In rain and downpours Bukowski still delivers it.  Slackers nowadays would have just quit.  It isn’t pride, but more of a sense of duty and that doesn’t seem to always be the case in today’s workers in general, but maybe the post office is another beast entirely

Post Office is a quick read and a good introduction to Bukowski.  He had an interesting life and even the mundane life of a postal worker can seem interesting in how he presents it.  Bukowski quit the post office after being convinced to write full time and this was his first full novel.  Check Post Office out for an interesting look at an interesting period in American literature.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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