Post Office

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"'It began as a mistake.' By middle age, Henry Chinaski has lost more than twelve years of his life to the U.S. Postal Service. In a world where his three true, bitter pleasures are women, booze, and racetrack betting, he somehow drags his hangover out of bed every dawn to lug waterlogged mailbags up mud-soaked mountains, outsmart vicious guard dogs, and pray to survive the day-to-day trials of sadistic bosses and certifiable coworkers. This classic 1971 novel -- the one that catapulted its author to national fame -- is the perfect introduction to the grimly hysterical world of legendary writer, poet, and Dirty Old Man Charles Bukowski and his fictional alter ego, Chinaski."

Customer Reviews:

  • Classic
    Please read this book. If more people read things like this, the world would be a better place....more info
  • Unique, entertaining, and dirty ... it's Bukowski
    After reading a hundred or so of Bukowski's poems and enjoying most of them, I decided to give Post Office a try. This was a grown-up's The Catcher in the Rye, something most of us toiling in lower-to-middle-class can relate to....more info
  • everyday life
    I just finished reading "Post Office" by Charles Bukowski, and I have to say it's a hilarious novel about a sarcastic nonchalant drunkard by the name of Henry Chinaski, and his life working for the chaotic and grueling postal service and the redundant demeaning work he has to do filled with its incompetent vile bosses and all their redundancies. Vulgar, ridiculous, and filled with Herny's sexual ventures, "Post Office" is a comical masterpiece ...more info
  • Raw and to the point.
    One of my mentors Frank Kern recommended this author. So I went ahead and bout this book. It's a quick read and the man definitely brings you into his world. His writing style is honest and raw. Have you ever been in a cab that had the typical taxi cab smell with the guy smoking a cig ? And he's telling you a story while taking you to your stop and you are looking at the fair meter ? Well that was Bukowski writing Post Office. ...more info
  • The job from Hades
    Henry "Hank" Chinaski gets a temporary Christmas job with the Post Office as a carrier, with an ease that is surprising to him. He finds himself delivering the mail and getting laid, which doesn't seem to interrupt his home life consisting of Betty and booze. Then he signs on as a full time substitute and works for the boss from hell, Mr. Jonstone. Jonstone regularly gives Hank the worse routes, for Hank isn't afraid to voice his distaste for his job.

    He takes a break from the post office to spend a brief time married to wealthy Joyce, who just as suddenly as they were married, divorces him. Then it's back to the Post Office, this time as a clerk, where Hank spends another twelve years of his life. Hank hates his job, and much prefers booze, the racetrack, and women. Though being disciplined many times, he still manages to hold his job.

    'Post Office' is a funny tale, told in first-person by Hank Chinaski. There's humor, hatred, and rants galore. With both his personal life and his job unstable, Hank has a hard time coming to grips with any kind of health or happiness. My favorite part was the "A$$hole" speech after he and Joyce eat Chinese food. 'Post Office' was written in 1971, then in 1975 Bukowski wrote 'Factotum', also about Hank Chinaski. I believe 'Factotum' was Hank's youth, and that 'Post Office', the earlier book, is about Chinaski's later years. Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong on this. While 'Post Office' is a good read (and very fast), I liked 'Factotum' much better. Charles Bukowski is an excellent writer, and you could do far worse than picking up this intelligent, funny, engaging rant against employment. Enjoy!
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  • Not for the light of heart
    This book will take the naive smirk off your face before you even get through the first act. It should be mandatory reading for college seniors to prepare them for the 'real world.' I recommend buying it so you can reread it when you need to be reminded that you can love living even when nothing goes the way you want it to. Forget The Secret and all the think positive nonsense out there. Bukowski will teach you how to be miserable happy. ...more info
  • Some things only come to you when you're ready...
    Charles Bukowski, the man, the drinker, the poet, and the postman. What more is there to say? Not much, but I'll be honest with you. I didn't know who Charles Bukowski was up until a few years ago. Even then, after hearing about who he was, and "thinking" I knew what he was about, I would often browse the bookshop aisles (as we all do), occasionally picking up one of his books, reading through the first few pages and then placing the book back on the shelf and drifting off to another section of the bookstore.

    Then, a few weeks ago, I was reading something, and article in the Times, I think, about the man, Mr. Bukowski, and I decided to give him another shot. I researched his work a little bit, and decided on Post Office: A Novel, due to it's high-star reviews here on [...].

    Well, I picked up the book, finished it in a day and a 1/2 (I had to go to work, otherwise it would have been finished in a few hours) and from the very first page, I was hooked. I drank in his honestly. And although his honestly is quite brutal at times, it was the first time I had read someone who I didn't feel was messing around with me, the reader. He didn't 'flower up' his work by being superfluous, rather, he was more direct and to the point than anyone I've ever read (and talked to). To say it was a refreshing change would be an understatement.

    After finishing Post Office, I went out and Factotem, Ham on Rye, Women, and two of his early poetry books, and finished them all within weeks. I suspect, though, that as with any good book, I'll be revisiting them often.

    On a final note, if there is one more thing I'd like to say about Mr. Bukowski's books, is that I believe anyone who thinks themselves a writer, really needs to read check out these books. If for no other reason than to see just how much you don't need to put into a piece to make it work. I won't go as far as to call Mr. Bukowski a master, because quite frankly, I think he'd laugh at the very thought. No. I'll call him someone who found his voice and used it to speak volumes. And anyone who puts pen to paper (or finger to keyboard) in the hopes of doing anything with that, needs to see what a true voice reads like. ...more info
  • Stylist of the underclass
    Bukowski was a terrific writer who had a voice and style that was all his own to capture the grim realities of capitalist America from the perspective of low man on the totem pole. Post Office is written in short, concise sections, each one containing some brilliant vignette in the life of Henry Chinaski (Bukowski's alter ego) as he works a menial existence in the United States Postal Service. The drinking, the women, the screwing, the dangerous dogs, the degrading beaucracy and repetition, the physical tolls of daily labour, are all evoked with powerful clarity. And Bukowski has a mean wit that delivers raw humour in a few carefully laid out lines. I love the following exchange when Chinaski meets an elderly woman on his latest round:

    "You're late today."
    "Yes, mam."
    "Where's the regular man today?"
    "He's dying of cancer."
    "Dying of cancer? Harold is dying of cancer?"
    "That's right," I said.

    Black, exquisitely done. You can tell a great stylist by the number of imitators they have, and Bukowski has thousands. But no one conveys the grim realities of low life America with as much honesty, conviction and bone dry wit as Bukowski. ...more info
  • Bukowski gets it "right"
    Bukowski gets it "right" here again..that is, if anything he's written might be labeled "right". A "leftist" with a depth charge packed in his typewriter, Mr. Bukowski steers the reader wildly and crashes through every accepted norm known to civilization. No wonder his works are the most shoplifted volumes from bookstores today. Not for the closed-minded....more info
  • Don't try . . .
    Hank Chinaski and Hank Charles Bukowski can be used interchangeably, and both (or either, I guess) are the embodiment of freedom trying to exist in a society with an underlying sense of order permeating everything. This is such a sparse, quick read with an odd diary-type tone that I didn't quite know what to make of it as I was reading. The short chapters within the sections read exactly like journal entries: not too much detail, just enough to refresh the memory for later reading. When it works, it works on the same grounds as other minimalistic texts, in that there's an outline painted and the details are open to interpretation and through that personalization.

    When it doesn't work, it passes quickly, fortunately. We get about a decade and a half of Chinaski's life in 200 pages (with a huge font size. I swear this can be read in three hours or less). Chinaski is the sort of anti-hero who's hard to invent in writing. He doesn't give a s*** about anything he can't drink, fight, or f***. He raped a mentally unstable woman (well, I guess that's debatable). He doesn't care. It's hard to like the guy, and even I thought the pseudo-rape was a bit unnecessary. He can also be sweet, thinking of his daughter when he had the butcher's knife to his throat. His relationships end in an state of neutrality. There's rarely hatred or love in his writing, despite his actions. He's just living, and really, what more can we ask of him?

    I can't say this is the best writing I've ever read, but who cares? People like this don't come along all that often, and to have this sort of a reference point in regard to purity and its clash with humanity is a gift we should all be grateful for. Don't try....more info
  • great book
    This is an excellent book. Bukowski may not be for everyone, but I absolutely love his style. He doesn't hold punches. The writing is honest, blatant, and extremely foul. Many, if not most, will be offended. It is one of the best reads I have had in years....more info
  • Hilarious but Sad
    Remember the smart but passive guy in your high school math class who did no work, attracted a certain kind of girl, always had a little money for beer, skipped school when it suited him, and didn't treat teachers as authority figures? Well, imagine that same guy 30 years later, working in the post office sticking mail. That's Hank Chinaski, the wily but nonchalant protagonist of the hilarious POST OFFICE, who is depressed by (but dependent on) a job in which "...all you moved was your right arm."

    POST OFFICE is a funny novel with frequent laugh-out-loud moments. But the book also has a sad undertone, with Hank floating through life and letting good things slip away, such as women who make him happy or time with his baby daughter. But boozing Hank hardly notices through the haze of his hangover and the exhausting drudgery of work. He's too stupefied to do much more than tweak the postal tyrants and subtly defy the bureaucratic insanity, as he pushes the empty fifths under the bed.

    In the final section of this book, Chinaski describes waking up from another binge. "In the morning, it was the morning and I was still alive." Believe it or not; but this sort of sums up Hank Chinaski in this terrific and funny book.
    ...more info
  • Bukowski was a funny guy!
    Out of what I've read by Bukowski at this point in time (I've only read four of his books as of today) I would rank this and Ham on Rye as his best.

    Most of Post Office revolves around his two stints as a Postal Worker, boozing, gambling, relationships with women and his trying to keep on with his writing while juggling all the other facets of his life. Its actually no wonder he was so miserable working at the post office considering he would drink and peck away at the typewriter every night till 2 a.m when he had to be at work the next morning. But hey you have to keep your dreams alive and it obviously paid off for him in the end.

    Like everything else I've ever read by Bukowski he finds great humor in some hellish situations. This is something that kind of gets lost in the shuffle by many of the idiot hipsters that are into Bukowski. They tend to overly romanticize Bukowskis skid row/working class/bohemian lifestyle but neglect to make much of the great humor on his work. Bukowski was a VERY funny guy. Not that there isn't plenty of sad content in his books but I often feel like I'm watching a great stand up comic (including the self loathing that so many of them exhibit) when I read Bukowski. ...more info
  • The definition of classic
    My introduction to the works of Charles Bukowski, Post Office is a scathingly funny tale with some depressing undertones that helped catapault Bukowski to fame. Henry Chinaski lives a redundant life of women, booze, the race track, more booze, and working as a mail carrier. Anything the least bit good that comes his way is eventually extinguished, whether it be a certain woman or a run of luck with the horses, and it's all illustrated here with dripping sarcasm and sly wit. There's really not much else to the story, and there is no need for there to be either, as Post Office offers a truly unique look into the uncompromising mind of one of the true great writers of the past thirty plus years. If you've never read any of Bukowski's novels or poetry, Post Office is a more than perfect place to start....more info
  • How did Buk do it?
    I have read every one of Bukowski's published novels, all of his short stories that I've found, and most of his poetry. And although he's best known for his poetry, it remains his prose that floors me.

    How did he do it? It's all so simple he makes it seem easy. This happens, then this happens, that that happens, the end. But no one's been able to ape that style of his effectively. No one. It only seems easy. In fact, that simplicity belies the workings of a brilliant author.

    To me, POST OFFICE remains his best work. As I work for the USPS, I can say with some authority that nothing much has changed since his days there. It remains a static institution in the way labor interacts with management. As I am also a writer and published author, I can also state with some authority that Bukowski was, and remains, one of the best writers this nation has produced in a very long time. He always thought of himself as the inheritor of Hemingway. And I agree with that....more info
  • Perfect starting place for Bukowski beginners
    If you hate your job and are looking to laugh over a beer and a book, this has your name on it.

    Buk hit his stride here and stayed in form for almost two decades. Pot Office is a great primer for the would-be Bukowski fan, though some of his poetry is a more immediate and visceral hit.

    If you have no problems with the mailman-meets-nutty lady scene, you will laugh happily through much of his work. If not, please move on to someone more PC.

    An easy read, written with concision and lots of humor. Not great literature, but very entertaining and perceptive. Not everything has to be War and Peace to merit five stars....more info
  • Better him than me
    I'm not even halfway through this book, and I haven't stopped laughing. As someone who works with the public, I can identify somewhat with Henry's dealings with the people on his route. Needless to say, also, we've all worked with and for jerks. This book almost reminds me of a literary version of Curb Your Enthusiasm...the worst parts....more info
  • Brilliant. Buy this book and borrow it to you friends.
    I love this book. It's genius in it's simplicity. Buy it, read it, and pass it along. ...more info
  • Excellent look inside the mind of Hank.
    This day to day account of the life 'Hank' lives is captivating and addictive. If this is your first Bukowski Book (and it would be a good start to getting to know Buck) and you like it - I would guess you will soon be addicted. ...more info
  • True to life - beautiful and sad
    There are already so many reviews of this title, that I may not be saying anything new. Yet, I feel there is one piece missing. Bukowski was a fascinating author and although I do find his short stories to be among the best shorts ever written, I also enjoy his longer pieces, such as the Post Office.
    Bukowski's writing always fills me with inspiration. His short, seemingly uncombed, sentences penetrate my brain like spears, flow off the tongue with ease, and never fail to leave something behind, long after I am done with the book. I admire his style, his honesty, his raw nature, and his unique approach when it comes to portraying life in its purest. He does not try to impress with elaborate sentence structure or flowery vocabulary, he does not try to romanticize life. His views, his images, his words...are all real; as real as it gets.
    Bukowski's alter ego, Henry Chinaski, is a man -- a simple, living, breathing man, playing whatever cards life had dealt him. He is a smoking, drinking, farting, gambling man struggling to maintain his head above water, while bound by the chains society ties him with. He is moving through life, seemingly with a certain nonchalance, yet suffering. Suffering from the all-too-human condition many of us know. For one, he is not attached enough to bleed when faced with a loss, yet, he is not completely detached to be indifferent when served a blow. And he is served plenty of blows.
    Whoever put together this edition, decided to call it "one of the funniest books ever written" I disagree. Bukowski, and Henry Chinaski's "adventures" are humorous, but most of all, his stories are sad. Sad on the human level. While reading, we are bound to smile, laugh and grin, yet, below the surface, between the lines, is hidden human suffering. Suffering we can all relate to, whether dealing with an "impossible" life partner, or with the "evil" boss, we all have something in common with Chinaski. We may not drink as much, smoke as much, eat better, live in better conditions, but we can relate. And this is exactly what makes Bukowski as relevant today, as it did when the book was first published. It is the most precious of connections -- connecting with the author on a human level.
    Along with Miller, Steinbeck, Kerouac, Harold Maine and Albert Cossery, Bukowski remains one of my favorite authors; the sort of author I can go back to at any time and find his writing relevant and entertaining. If you never read Bukowski, go give him a try. You won't be disappointed....more info
  • Not the Best
    I'm not giving this book two stars because I'm one of those Bukowski-haters. I love his writing. But this isn't the best book of his that I've read. I believe it was published fairly early in his career, which might indicate better was to come from Bukowski. If you don't own any Bukowski books, I'd advise you to buy "Run with the Hunted" rather than this one. ...more info
  • Love him or hate him... he's funny
    This is classic comedic literature. Hank, the main character, walks through life in a way that any burned out, working stiff can relate to. I was laughing out loud many times at the hilarious observations and how much I could relate to it. If not great and profound, accept it for being hilarious and profane. However way you look at it, it's well worth the read. ...more info
  • ----> RAW AND REAL <---- a great Amazon pick!
    Novels like this are rare, and writers like Charles Bukowski are one in a million. The word "authentic" comes to mind; his writing conveys a raw honesty and much needed non-mainstream point-of-view. Bukowski is the voice of dissent, the marginally employed, creatively frustrated working joe. Like the bird in the cage, his spirit is trapped in a world steeped in bureaucracy and bullsh*t.

    Post Office covers Bukowski's 12 years as a postal employee and it follows his difficult working life, which echoes the working life and frustrations of millions. I can't help but think of David Henry Thoreau's famous quote (which applies to Bukowski): "Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them."

    Bukowski, in fact, preaches a certain kind of civil disobedience.
    We're all raised to want the same things: family, material possesions, a house, "respectable" jobs. I think now more than ever, we need Bukowski, we need to challenge the status quo and not buy into a shallow culture of materialism at the cost of trading our souls.

    I recommend "Post Office" highly, also his poetry, particularly "You Get So Alone At Times That It Just Makes Sense" and "The Last Night Of The Earth Poems." In addition, I recommend "A Working Stiff's Manifesto : A Memoir of Thirty Jobs I Quit, Nine That Fired Me, and Three I Can't Remember"
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  • Hilarious!
    I bought the book Post Office by Charles Bukowski, it is one of the funniest books I have read. I told my Brother about it and he bought it and really liked it too. ...more info
  • Work Sucks
    This is the first book I've read by Bukowski. I first came across him due to amazon's recommendations, as I had been reading quite a bit of Henry Miller.

    Well, for various reasons I got turned on to John Fante, and finally picked up some Bukowski books.

    I think in Orwell's essay on Henry Miller he noted that Miller marked the future of 'literature.' I read this as "modern man will have nothing to write about except bitching." Well, I see Bukowski in the same modern light, and I enjoyed reading this book.

    Bukowski (or Chinaski) does seem bitter, even selfish, unrepentant, misogynistic, and isn't a role model. Having said that, it's quite refreshing to read, as un-PC as can be, in this world of cookie-cutter bullcrap.

    Having heard about the actual Post Office from insiders, Bukowski really is quite gentle with his comments, not showing them to be as backwards as is the case.

    I enjoyed the book. Bukowski is not as endearing as a Henry Miller, but manages to come off like more of an A-hole despite being less XXX (at least in this book) than Miller. I kept imagining George Carlin as the narrator when I was reading. Anyway, this Chinaski is an alright guy to have a drink with. Just keep him away from your sister....more info
  • brilliant
    This book is the reason that i read a new book every week. It is brilliant and funny and depressing and I never knew that writing like this existed until I learned of Charles Bukowski....more info
  • Great buk book for first timer
    Wow, I was really surprised by how quick of a read this novel is and how engrossing overall it is. Bukowski is so very blunt with his words, "Bitch, whore" and his phrases, "I just put it in." The way he writes is like if you wanted to tell a long story but just shorten it up and tell the good stuff--THE STUFF THAT MATTERS. I couldn't but relate to Chinaski(main character) and his job at the post office that he hated. Great novel and I strongly recommend this novel as I will purchasing Ham on Rye next, followed by Women. ...more info
  • Ardin's View
    Bukowski's style is amazing. Apparently he is one of the most imitated of all US poets. In Post Office you get a great dose of what Bukowski's writing is like. As for his philosophy, I'm not so sure. Everyone must have one, but Bukowski hides his well. This book is also semi-autobiographical and gives a great view of what was like for Bukowski to be an undiscovered and un-appreciated writer in the 60's. To find out what this is like today, you an visit the How to be a Writer blog,, which follows the journey that Bukowski would have been all too familiar with. This book is an American classic and if you have never read Bukowski then read this. By Ardin Lalui, author of Ramona: info
  • The Buk at His Best
    I've never read anything by Bukowski that I didn't like, but Post Office is probably my all time favorite. The Buk writes with a hard-hitting honesty and simplicity that kicks you in the gut and leaves you begging for more.

    Buk's short story collections, especially The Most Beautiful Woman in Town, South of No North and Tales of Ordinary Madness are also not to be missed....more info
  • Beware the 'wisdom of the slave'
    Toward the end of Post Office, Bukowski's next best novel after Ham on Rye, the protagonist Henry Chinaski has a revelation. Most of us scramble for job security, even if it comes at the price of our physical and emotional health, our creativity, and our identity. Anything's worth the cost of keeping a paycheck coming in on time. So we "accept" what we're given. This, Chinaski realizes, is "the wisdom of the slave" (p. 189), and he wants nothing to do with it. So he walks away from his civil service job with the postal department. Twelve years is enough.

    The tussle between individual autonomy and economic security is one of the more obvious themes in both Post Office and Bukowski's other "working man" novel, Factotum. We become dependent on our jobs, psychologically as well as materially, and the dependency is hard to break. Post Office is the story of a guy who starts out free and loose (Part I), but who finds himself drifting toward spirit-deadening "respectability" and job security (Parts II-IV), only to finally break away and face the great unknown of unemployment--and artistic creativity (Parts V & VI). Along the way, Bukowski writes a few genuinely brilliant sketches of bureaucratic stupidity, and (uncharacteristically) a few moving ones in which Chinaski plays with the child, Marina, he's sired off of Fay. There are also some moments of quite good psychological insight, as when Chinaski, disoriented by the sudden loss of routine (even though it's a routine he despised) falls to pieces right after walking away from his job.

    Thankfully, there's less of the relentless-to-the-point-of-tedium drinking in Post Office than one finds in most of Bukowski's other novels (although there's still a lot). Moreover, the novel is less impressionistic and better constructed than any other Bukowski tale except Ham on Rye. Even though it's difficult to understand the cult status granted Bukowski by his admirers, Post Office is a good novel--not great, mind you, but pretty darn good....more info


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