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May 122014
 

Women

Women

Low-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 fo

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  3 Responses to “Women”

  1. 109 of 117 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    enter mr. bukowski…, May 2, 2000
    This review is from: Women (Paperback)

    as the first book of charles bukowski’s that i ever read, “Women” holds a special place in my heart. it is an insane story of henry chinaski and his misunderstandings and communications with women. autobiographical to an extent, this book, and all of bukowski’s, are special because they are so graphically and emotionally honest. no one else paints such candid portraits of the human psyche in its most degenerate and politically incorrect situations. no other author can put so much vulgarity into a work and make it sound as natural as bukowski does. everything and every word in his novels have a place and a meaning, making his writing style so refreshingly satisfying, that you can’t help but to live vicariously through his beautiful insanity. “women” introduced me to this great american poet/novelist, and it is my belief that this book definitely makes for a proper introduction to his works.

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  2. 75 of 88 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    Not for the faint of heart, July 23, 2001
    By 
    Ryan “The Doctor” (Meadville, PA) –

    This review is from: Women (Paperback)

    First off, this book will offend people. It will probably offend you. You need to be offended. You need to be shaken out of your complacency. You need to be smacked upside the head with the crude and vulgar beauty of Bukowski’s life and prose. You should get an injection of his drunken, debauched lifestyle. You should read this book.

    This is the first Bukowski novel that I have read, on a recommendation from a friend. The man has a way with words. A true Hemingway in the way he gives insightful and penetrating descriptions of people, but never actually tells you what they are thinking. He is able to paint a deep character profile of all the many women in his life with a little dialogue and some crazy actions. Some may find it degrading towards women, but I don’t feel that it is. Sure, he is sometimes crude, sometimes angry, sometimes insulting towards women, but he is equally so towards himself. If anything, I feel he shows the tragic sexual immaturity of both women and men. While his lifestyle may be on the extreme, and something that most of us have never even gotten close to, he demonstrates things that anyone who has been in a relationship can identify with.

    All in all, I don’t think Bukowski was writing a book about relationships that people would identify with. That is far too cheesy and mid ’90s flaky for him. I think this was more just a painful self-evisceration. I think he was tearing himself open, and laughing about it, and proudly showing off his darkest, and also his most beautiful, thoughts, actions, and emotions.

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  3. 25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
    4.0 out of 5 stars
    Chinaski’s Women, August 3, 2004
    By 
    Robin Friedman (Washington, D.C. United States) –
    (HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)
      
    (VINE VOICE)
      
    (TOP 50 REVIEWER)
      
    (REAL NAME)
      

    This review is from: Women (Paperback)

    I was inspired to reread Charles Bukowski’s novel, “Women”, (1975) after seeing the recent film documentary, “Bukowski: Born into This” which offers a compelling picture of “Buk’s” life replete with interviews of Bukowski, his women, and friends.

    Charles Bukowski (1920-1994) was born in Germany but his family moved to the United States when he was three. He wandered around the country for some years living in cheap rooming houses and drinking. He worked as a laborer and for the post office for many years and wrote poems and stories in his spare time. His work gradually attracted a following and was published by Black Sparrow Press. He achieved substantial acclaim before his death and his work continues to be read. It is low-down, graphic, and visceral.

    Bukowski’s novel “Women” (1975), is told in the voice of a character called Henry Chinaski, as are many other Bukowski novels. The book is largely autobiographical, but the use of a fictitous narrator provides a certain distance from its author, and deliberately so. During the course of “Women”, Chinaski remarks more than once how his (Chinaski’s) character differs to some degree from the public perception. I find it useful to remember the tension between the fictional Chinaski and the actual Bukowski in reading Bukowski’s novels.

    “Women” begins when Chinaski is 50 years old and is lamenting his lengthy lack of a sexual relationship with a woman. This lack is soon remedied during the course of the novel. Much of the story consists of a recounting of Chinaski’s encounters with many women, most of whom are much younger than he is. Some of these encounters are brief one night stands, others continue over a period of time. Sometimes the women appear with Chinaski, leave, and then come back. Many of the women seem, in the story, genuinely drawn to Chinaski. He meets many of them through the poetry readings he gave at colleges and bars after his work acquired noteriety. Chinaski himself seems attached to at least some of these women — perhaps more so than he would have his reader believe.

    The activities of the characters are simply, bluntly, and clearly described and will not appeal to all readers. There is a great deal of emphasis on sex, on excretory functions, on endless drinking, horseplaying, and some drug use. Some readers will also take offense at Chinaski/Bukowski’s attitude towards women, focused as it is on physical appearance and sexual activity.

    I found the book engagingly written with its in-your-face attitude. It is gritty and realistic and describes Chinaski and his east Hollywood environs well. Many of the scenes are funny and perceptive as Chinaski mocks himself and his life. There is sexual honesty in the book as well as Chinaski shows us his failures — which are frequent due to his alcoholism — as well as the women that get away.

    The book shows a degree of reflectiveness that is easy to overlook on first reading. There are times when Chinaski enjoys and glorifies his life with his sexual conquests and drink but many passages in the book suggest second thoughts and feelings of guilt. Thus, in a passage near the end of the book, which I will expurgate and abridge, Chinaski says ( “Women” p.236)

    “I walked away feeling worse and worse. … I could certainly play some nasty, unreal games. What was my motive? Was I trying to get even for something. …. I tinkered with lives and souls as if they were my playthings. How could I call myself a man? … The worst part of it was that I passed myself off for exactly what I wasn’t — a good man. I was able to enter people’s lives because of their trust in me. I was doing my dirty work the easy way.”

    There is a great deal, then, of the cult figure Chinanski/Bukowski in this book but there is more than that. Bukowski may not be to everyone’s liking and he should not be any reader’s sole literary fare. But there is something in the books beyond the bluster, the self-pity, and the public image. “Women” is worth reading.

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