by Charles Bukowski


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How-life writer and unrepentant alcoholic Henry Chinaski was born to survive. After decades of slacking off at low-paying dead-end jobs, blowing his cash on booze and women, and scrimping by in flea-bitten apartments, Chinaski sees his poetic star rising at last. Now, at fifty, he is reveling in his sudden rock-star life, running three hundred hangovers a year, and maintaining a sex life that would cripple Casanova.

With all of Bukowski's trademark humor and gritty, dark honesty, this 1978 follow-up to Post Office and Factotum is an uncompromising account of life on the edge.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780061177590
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 07/29/2014
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 80,344
Product dimensions: 5.31(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.68(d)

About 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.

Abel Debritto, a former Fulbright scholar and current Marie Curie fellow, works in the digital humanities. He is the author of Charles Bukowski, King of the Underground, and the editor of the Bukowski collections On WritingOn Cats, and On Love.

Date of Birth:

August 16, 1920

Date of Death:

March 9, 1994

Place of Birth:

Andernach, Germany

Place of Death:

San Pedro, California


Los Angeles City College, 2 years

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By Charles Bukowski

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2007 Charles Bukowski
All right reserved.

Chapter One

I was 50 years old and hadn't been to bed with a woman for four years. I had no women friends. I looked at them as I passed them arning and with a sense of futility. I masturbateda regularly, but the idea of having a relationship with a woman even on non-sexual terms-was beyond my imagination. I had a 6 year old daughter born out of wedlock. She lived with her mother and I paid child support. I had been married years before at the age Of 35. That marriage lasted two and one half years. My wife divorced me. I had been in love only once. She had died of acute alcoholism. She died at 48 when I was 38. My wife had been 12 years younger than I. I believe that she too is dead now, although I'm not sure. She wrote me a long letter each Christmas for 6 years after the divorce. I never responded....

I'm not sure when I first saw Lydia Vance. It was about 6 years ago and I had just quit a twelve year job as a postal clerk and was trying to be a writer. I was terrified and drank more than ever. I was attempting my first novel. I drank a pint of whiske and two six packs of beer each night while writing. I smoked chyeap cigars and typed and drank and listened to classical music on the radio until dawn. I set a goal of ten pages a night but I never knew until the next day how many pages I had written. I'd et up in the morning, vomit, then walk to the front room andglook on the couch to see how many pages werethere. I always exceeded my ten. Sometimes there were 17, 18, 23, 25 pages. Of course, the work of each night had to be cleaned up or thrown away. It took me twenty-one nights to write my first novel.

The owners of the court where I then lived, who lived in the back, thought I was crazy. Each morning when I awakened there would be a large brown paper bag on the porch. The contents varied but mostly the bags contained tomatoes, radishes, oranges, green onions, cans of soup, red onions. I drank beer with them every other night until 4 or 5 AM. The old man would pass out and the old lady and I would hold hands and I'd kiss her now and then. I always gave her a big one at the door. She was terribly wrinkled but she couldn't help that. She was Catholic and looked cute when she put on her pink hat and went to church on Sunday morning.

I think I met Lydia Vance at my first poetry reading. It was at a bookstore on Kenmore Ave., The Drawbridge. Again, I was terrified. Superior yet terrified. When I walked in there was standing room only. Peter, who ran the store and was living with a black girl, had a pile of cash in front of him. "Shit, he said to me, "if I could always pack them in like this I'd have enough money to take another trip to India!" I walked in and they began applauding. As far as poetry readings were concerned, I was about to bust my cherry.

I read 30 minutes then called a break. I was still sober and I could feel the eyes staring at me from out of the dark. A few people came up atid talked to me. Then during a lull Lydia Vance walked up. I was sitting at a table drinking beer. She put both hands on the edge of the table, bent over and looked at me. She had long brown hair, quite long, a prominent nose, and one eye didn't quite match the other- But she projected vitality-you knew that she was there. I could feel vibrations running between us. Some of the vibrations were confused and were not good but they were there.

She looked at me and I looked back. Lydia Vance had on a suede cowgirl jacket with a fringe around the neck. Her breasts were good. I told her, "I'd like to rip that fringe off your jacket-we could begin there!" Lydia walked off. It hadn't worked. I never knew what to say to the ladies. But she had a behind. I watched that beautiful behind as she walked away. The seat of her blue-jeans cradled it and I watched it as she walked away.

I finished the second half of the reading and forgot about Lydia

just as I forgot about the women I passed on the sidewalks. I took my money, signed some napkins, some pieces of paper, then left, and drove back home.

I was still working each n ight on the first novel. I never started writing until 6: 18 Pm. That was when I used to punch in at the Terminal Annex Post Office. It was 6 Pm when they arrived: Peter and Lydia Vance. I opened the door. Peter said, "Look, Henry, look what I brought you!"

Lydia jumped up on the coffee table. Her bluejeans fit tighter than ever. She flung her long brown hair from side to side. She was insane; she was miraculous. For the first time I considered the possibility of actually making love to her. She began reciting poetry. Her own. It was very bad. Peter tried to stop her, "No! No! No rhyming poetry in Henry Chinaski's house!

"Let her go, Peter!"

I wanted to watch her buttocks. She strode up and down that old coffee table. Then she danced. She waved her arms. The poetry was terrible, the body and the madness weren't.

Lydia jumped down.

"How'd you like it, Henry.


"The poetry."


Lydia stood there with her sheets of poetry in her hand. Peter grabbed her. "Let's fuck!" he said to her. "Come on, let's fuck!"

She pushed him off.

"All right," Peter said. "Then I'm leaving!"

"So leave. I've got my car," Lydia said. "I can get back to my place. "

Peter ran to the door. He stopped and turned. "All right, Chinaski! Don't forget what I brought you!"

He slammed the door and was gone. Lydia sat down on the couch, near the door. I sat about a foot away from her. I looked at her. She looked marvelous. I was afraid. I reached out and touched her long hair. The hair was magic. I pulled my hand away. "Is all that hair really yours?" I asked. I knew it was. "Yes," she said, "it is." I put my hand under her chin and very awkwardly I tried to turn her head toward mine. I was not confident in these situations. I kissed her lightly.


Excerpted from Women by Charles Bukowski Copyright © 2007 by Charles Bukowski. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Women 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 81 reviews.
Anna-the-reader More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this novel. Though it's thick, I found it an easy read, the type of book that I could dip into at any time. The structure of this novel is odd or unconventional in that at first it seems repetitive, this happens then that, with women entering and leaving his life. But somehow you grow used to it. It's almost like a compilation of episodes that often don't lead anywhere but allow you to understand the protagonist who's obviously Bukowski. I'll say it's pretty funny too. Bukowski's sense of humor is blunt and often dirty, which I kind of appreciate. In a way I was reminded me of another recent novel I read, Permanent Obscurity by Richard Perez. Both books have a raw and ugly style, both quite funny. Bukowski's Women ends with Henry, the main character losing control a little. The portrait is deadly honest, and I know a lot of people who might consider him an A-hole, but that's exactly why he's interesting: you don't often see his kind in fiction. Bukowski does nothing to cover up the fact that he's a bit of a monster. So the end result is a realistic portrait. Anyway, I enjoyed this book, and I would recommend it to others.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Never has a book affected my life so drastically. The characters were fascinating yet eerily realistic....I could relate so intensely. This book brought tears of joy and sorrow to my eyes, yet I have never laughed so hard in my life. I definitely recommend it
Pat Padgett More than 1 year ago
Can do no wrong
Guest More than 1 year ago
I didn't know Charles Bukowski existed until a month ago. I had read Fante's 'Ask the Dust' and after I'd read the prefece (written by Bukowski) I thought, What a voice! Bukowski must have novels out there. And he does. Many of them. One of them is 'Women.' I read it, I liked it, and I will be reading more of Bukowski. I've read 'Pulp' and am currently reading 'Post Office.' What I liked about 'Women' is that it's honest. It's not fancy and it's not 'literary' it's just a good fun story about a mediocre poet and his sexual exploits. It's also a good commentary on the writing life. If you've never read any Bukowski, this may be a good place to start. Bukowski is raw and uninhibited he speaks from the heart. He doesn't care what the critics think of him, either. This is good. Thanks, Mr Bukowski, for laying it down and telling us the way you see things.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Bukowski's depiction of a man on the brink of madness and the equally insane relationships he has with women is borderline genius. Henry Chinaski, the protagonist, is a man in love with not only his freedom, but himself, and this creates a problem when bouncing from one dysfuntional relationship to another. Great read. Highly recommended.
Guest More than 1 year ago
When I read this book it opened up a new out look on women. Bukowski tells it from where its at
foomy on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Depending on my state of mind, I like the book. In 1996, a close male friend recommended I read this because I reminded him of Linda. It totally rang bells for I was going out with an alcoholic. All stories were really dysfunctional and great!!
babiblack on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I finished to read "Ask The Dust", by John Fante, when was suggested me to read this book. It's really similar, but Henry Chinaski has something different from the other guy. He's more unusual, more shameless, seems to be more talented and lucky. I like the way he moves from one situation to another, and, in the middle of the book, you're tempted to live like him. In the final, you start to think if you really wanna live like this... So different and absolutely crazy women, in a world of drugs, with no rules and minimal worrings seems to be interessant... At certain point.
caklr650 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A good companion piece to read at the same time is "Love is a dog from Hell" Many of the poems in that book we're fleshed "hee hee" out form the stories of reletionships he describes in "Women."
sfisk on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
What can I say, classic Bukowski...
MColv9890 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This holds a special place for me as the first Bukowski novel I ever read. Much has been said about Bukowski the poet but as a novelist he is equally thought-provoking.
lucthegreat on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Very good. Read it on a snowboard trip to Whistler. Had me laughing out loud and reading passages to Thanos, and you should have seen his eyes pop when he realized that there are actually BOOKS about this kind of stuff. Classic Bukowski.
eshannon12 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
If you don't enjoy frequent use of the good old-fashioned "c-word" then stay away from this one.
jeffreybrayne on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A candid look into the real women who Bukowski actually dated.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ok is this the first time you have your period?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is one guy's sick fantasy world and a horrible depiction of women. Nothing funny or poetic about it. Simply disgusting.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
the_protagonist1 More than 1 year ago
This novel lives up to its title. It was interesting, focused on the young woman that came in and out of an old drunk writers life because he hit a high point of his writing career. The descriptions of sex is very detailed and at times funny.<br /> <br /> Review written by Author and screenwriter Curt Wiser
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am a longtime fan of Bukowski's writing, but fix the typo's please !....I can't enjoy a story while reading around multiple errors.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago