‘Women’ by Charles Bukowski. (First published WH Allen 1981).

I think I’m beginning to see that one either likes Bukowski or hates him, and so with his work. Depending on your view, he’s either a dirty old man, extremely male-chauvenistic, outrageously misogynistic, or a straight-forward chronicler as life as it is lived, warts and all, with little (or no) time for pretensions and hypocrasies. The truth, I suppose it will be said by fence-sitters, ‘lies somewhere in between’, but I reject that sort of old anodyne hogwash (I’ve been reading a lot of Bukowski) and plump for the latter description.

This book would make a great catalyst for another 6th form weary debate on ‘What is Pornography?’ If the graphic depiction of the sexual act, enacted in a wide selection of its possible scenarios, is pornography, then some parts of this work might be classed as  pornography. But why always the hang up about sex? Personally I find much of what passes for ‘video games’ (so popular with 6 year-olds upwards) to be extrememly pornographic in that they enact violent, mind-warping scenes in which the consideration for humanlife is non-existent.

OK. Enough soap-boxing already. This book is by turns very funny, very moving and (for me) enlightening on just how it is that Hank Chinasky (aka Charles), despite all the things he does wrong as regards ‘his’ women still emerges as human, and even ‘humane’. As a novel (and it is very episodic but just about qualifies for the genre) it is rather repetitive and a bit sermonising here and there. But it is really enjoyable to read and… Is that not enough?

This is the Virgin Books edition of 2006.

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