Post Office 1971

In this semi-autobiographical novel, Charles Bukowski's alter-ego Henry Chinaski is a nobody. He goes for a job in the post office because its easy and funds his debauched habits, some drunk up the hill told him about it and in his own words - “it began as a mistake”. Little does our anti-hero know its will mould his life for over a decade to come, with the exception of a few years living off his winnings from the race track.

Post Office follows Chinaski through the trials and maladies of a dead end job with a zombie like or crazy workforce. He starts as a temp with no clout, he's tripped up by futile unions, harangued by a sadistic boss Mr Johnston aka 'The Stone', whom he sees as an unmerciful supreme being “Do you think the stone planned it? Hell yes! He even made it rain!”.

The trials of his job are mixed with the trials of his relationships, from his first love the alcoholic Betty, to a promiscuous daughter of a Texan millionaire, an idealistic campaigner whom he has a daughter with and countless flings in between, some more disastrous than the rest. Intertwined with all the relationships and grinding work he finds enough time to drink a serious amount of whisky and beer.

Post Office was the fist of Bukowskis novels, written freshly after he was hired by Black Sparrow press on a contract. He wrote it in a month after leaving, the freshness can be seen in the detail of the encounters, even though he reputedly consumed 20 bottles of whisky in its creation. He manages to spin everyday adventures into hilarious and heart felt stories.