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F: Factotum (Blogging From AtoZ Challenge)

April 7, 2015

I like reading reviews on Charles Bukowski’s works. The negative reviews are good, especially the ones that are written after the reader has acknowledged not reading the entire work, but I find the positive ones to be more entertaining because I get a kick out of the awe and reverence and near hero worship displayed toward the man. Reading those types of sickly sweet positive reviews I get the feeling that if I just keep reading a little longer I’ll eventually stumble upon a reviewer calling for beatification. I call these reviewers bootlickers and literary snobs and I enjoy their positive reviews because the reality is that had Mr. Bukowski known them, had he known any of us, he probably wouldn’t have cared very much for us or what we have to say about him.


Factotum didn’t knock me off my feet like other Bukowski books have. It actually left me feeling depressed and a little beaten up which, depending on who you are, and what you look to get from a Bukowski book, might be a good thing.

In a very tiny nutshell, Factotum is about a man moving through life, going from job to job and drinking his way from relationship to relationship as he struggles to become a writer. Of course you don’t – or at least I don’t – read Charles Bukowski for the plot, you read it for the insights, the stuff in between the words, so the story, as thin as it might be, doesn’t really matter. At least not to me it doesn’t.

I would have given the book only three out of four stars but I bumped it up to four stars because of this analogy: “Carmen was wearing a very tight knitted dress that fit her like a balloon fits the trapped air.”, and this line that comes as our hero is watching from the side as his fellow laid off co-workers at National Bakery Goods dutifully line up to give the foreman their names and phone numbers for an eventual recall when business picks up: “These, I thought, are the men who dance beautifully at parties.” If you’re a man who doesn’t dance beautifully at parties, hell, if you don’t go to parties, that’s a pretty striking insight.

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