Era un tavolo, vedevo la gamba di un tavolo, vedevo le gambe della gente, e un pezzetto di tovaglia che pendeva. Dovevamo essere in Germania. Dovevo avere 1 o 2 anni. Era il Stavo bene sotto il tavolo. Il sole illuminava il tappeto e le gambe della gente.

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Little did I know this mini-heaven would quickly end and hell would begin in September. My smooth-skinned tan face turned into an acne-filled mess. I suffered pimple by pimple for three years straight; many fat red pimples popping up every day. Oh, yeah, on my forehead, temples, cheeks, jaw, chin and nose. I was sixteen, tan, blonde and good looking, catching waves on my yellow surfboard along with all the other surfers, handsome guys and beautiful gals, each and every day that summer.

Unlike Charles Bukowski, my father never beat me as a kid but this was one thing I did have in common with Bukowski — being a teenager with a wicked case of acne. You can read all about his in this novel, Ham and Rye.

Anyway, this is one of my connections with Bukowski, the king of the hill when it comes to American raw-boned, hard-boiled, tough-guy writers. And this novel of his years as a kid and teenager growing up in a house where he was continually beaten with a leather strap and receiving a torrent of emotional abuses, particularly at the hands of his callous, obsessive father, sets the stage for his alcoholic, hardscrabble adulthood, an adulthood where, other than drinking, his sole refuge from childhood memories of cruelty and his ongoing life on the down-and-out edge was sitting at his typewriter composing poetry and fiction.

Ham on Rye. Every single sentence of this book is clear, vivid, sharp and direct, as if the words were bullets shot from a 22 caliber rifle. If you read them and let yourself feel the magic, you could live without pain, with hope, no matter what happened to you. I think they knew that. I still had the feeling of being surrounded by white empty space. There was always a slight nausea in my stomach. I liked to stay in bed for hours, even during the day with covers pulled up to my chin.

It was good in there, nothing ever occurred in there, no people, nothing. There are funny, belly-laughing scenes and scenes that will make you shudder, scenes that are tender and scenes filled with pain, but through it all, you will stick with Hank Chinaski aka Charles Bukowski, the ultimate tough-guy with the heart of a poet.


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