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Factotum
     

Factotum

3.9 28
by Charles Bukowski
 

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One of Charles Bukowski's best, this beer-soaked, deliciously degenerate novel follows the wanderings of aspiring writer Henry Chinaski across World War II-era America. Deferred from military service, Chinaski travels from city to city, moving listlessly from one odd job to another, always needing money but never badly enough to keep a job. His day-to-day existence

Overview

One of Charles Bukowski's best, this beer-soaked, deliciously degenerate novel follows the wanderings of aspiring writer Henry Chinaski across World War II-era America. Deferred from military service, Chinaski travels from city to city, moving listlessly from one odd job to another, always needing money but never badly enough to keep a job. His day-to-day existence spirals into an endless litany of pathetic whores, sordid rooms, dreary embraces, and drunken brawls, as he makes his bitter, brilliant way from one drink to the next.

Charles Bukowski's posthumous legend continues to grow. Factotum is a masterfully vivid evocation of slow-paced, low-life urbanity and alcoholism, and an excellent introduction to the fictional world of Charles Bukowski.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780876852637
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
05/28/2002
Pages:
208
Sales rank:
73,918
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.52(d)

Read an Excerpt

Factotum tie-in

Chapter One

I arrived in New Orleans in the rain at 5 o'clock in the morning. I sat around in the bus station for a while but the people depressed me so I took my suitcase and went out in the rain and began walking. I didn't know where the rooming houses were, where the poor section was.

I had a cardboard suitcase that was falling apart. It had once been black but the black coating had peeled off and yellow cardboard was exposed. I had tried to solve that by putting black shoepolish over the exposed cardboard. As I walked along in the rain the shoepolish on the suitcase ran and unwittingly I rubbed black streaks on both legs of my pants as I switched the suitcase from hand to hand.

Well, it was a new town. Maybe I'd get lucky.

The rain stopped and the sun came out. I was in the black district. I walked along slowly.

"Hey, poor white trash!"

I put my suitcase down. A high yellow was sitting on the porch steps swinging her legs. She did, look good.

"Hello, poor white trash!"

I didn't say anything. I just stood there looking at her.

"How'd you like a piece of ass, poor white trash?"

She laughed at me. She had her legs crossed high and she kicked her feet; she had nice legs, high heels, and she kicked her legs and laughed. I picked up my suitcase and began to approach her up the walk. As I did I noticed a side curtain on a window to my left move just a bit. I saw a black man's face. He looked like Jersey Joe Wolcott. I backed down the pathway to the sidewalk. Her laughter followed me down the street.

Chapter Two

I was in aroom on the second floor across from a bar. The bar was called The Gangplank Cafe. From my room I could see through the open bar doors and into the bar. There were some rough faces in that bar, some interesting faces. I stayed in my room at night and drank wine and looked at the faces in the bar while my money ran out. In the daytime I took long slow walks. I sat for hours staring at pigeons. I only ate one meal a day so my money would last longer. I found a dirty cafe with a dirty proprietor, but you got a big breakfast—hotcakes, grits, sausage—for very little.

Chapter Three

I went out on the street, as usual, one day and strolled along. I felt happy and relaxed. The sun was just right. Mellow. There was peace in the air. As I approached the center of the block there was a man standing outside the doorway of a shop. I walked past.

"Hey, buddy!"

I stopped and turned.

"You want a job?"

I walked back to where he stood. Over his shoulder I could see a large dark room. There was a long table with men and women standing on both sides of it. They had hammers with which they pounded objects in front of them. In the gloom the objects appeared to be clams. They smelled like clams. I turned and continued walking down the street.

I remembered how my father used to come home each night and talk about his job to my mother. The job talk began when he entered the door, continued over the dinner table, and ended in the bedroom where my father would scream "Lights Out! "at 8 p.m., so he could get his rest and his full strength for the job the next day. There was no other subject except the job.

Down by the corner I was stopped by another man.

"Listen, my friend . . . " he began.

"Yes?" I asked.

"Listen, I'm a veteran of World War I. I put my life on the line for this country but nobody will hire me, nobody will give me a job. They don't appreciate what I did. I'm hungry, give me some help . . . "

"I'm not working."

"You're not working?"

"That's right."

I walked away. I crossed the street to the other side.

"You're lying!" he screamed. "You're working. You've got a job!"

A few days later I was looking for one.

Factotum tie-in. Copyright © by Charles Bukowski. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Meet the Author

Charles Bukowski is one of America’s best-known contemporary writers of poetry and prose and, many would claim, its most influential and imitated poet. He was born in 1920 in Andernach, Germany, to an American soldier father and a German mother, and brought to the United States at the age of two. He was raised in Los Angeles and lived there for over fifty years. He died in San Pedro, California, on March 9, 1994, at the age of seventy-three, shortly after completing his last novel, Pulp.

Brief Biography

Date of Birth:
August 16, 1920
Date of Death:
March 9, 1994
Place of Birth:
Andernach, Germany
Place of Death:
San Pedro, California
Education:
Los Angeles City College, 2 years

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Factotum 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 28 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
No, I haven't seen the movie, and I don't want to. I loved this book so much that I'm afraid they might have ruined it. While POST OFFICE is my favorite Bukowski novel, FACTOTUM runs a close second, along with McCrae's books and the works of Martin Amis. Buy this book and enjoy.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Bukoski's alter ego, Henry Chinaski, is truly the loser's champion. Chinaski is a student of the world and traveling hobo combined. Never satisfied with the hand that the world deals him, Chinaski is a restless soul carrying himself through the 1940s. Moving from town to town, job to job, and woman to woman, he finally makes his way back to his home of Los Angeles. His true aspiration to become a writer, he practically works every other job in the blue collar world. I recommend this book to anyone who hasn't had a taste of Buksowski.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and laughed frequently. This book was similar in style and events to Post Office(also by Bukowski), so if you liked Post Office, then you'll probably like this.
Pat Padgett More than 1 year ago
Loved it
Guest More than 1 year ago
For Bukoski fans. Maybe not for those who've never heard of him.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved it
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