"It began as a mistake." By middle age, Henry Chinaski has lost more than twelve years of his life to the U.S. Postal Service. In a world where his three true, bitter pleasures are women, booze, and racetrack betting, he somehow drags his hangover out of bed every dawn to lug waterlogged mailbags up mud-soaked mountains, outsmart vicious guard dogs, and pray to survive the day-to-day trials of sadistic bosses and certifiable coworkers. This classic 1971 novel—the one that catapulted its author to national fame—is the perfect introduction to the grimly hysterical world of legendary writer, poet, and Dirty Old Man Charles Bukowski and his fictional alter ego, Chinaski.
"Bukowski's loser's string of anecdotes, convulsively funny and also sad, is unflagging entertainment but in the end doesn't add up to more than the sum of its parts, somehow missing the novelist's alchemy," asserts a Times Literary Supplement contributor. But Valentine Cunningham, also writing in the Times Literary Supplement, sees the novel as a success: "Pressed in by Post Office bureaucrats, their mean-minded regulations and their heaps of paperwork, the misfit [Chinaski] looks frequently like an angel of light. His refusal to play respectability ball with the cajoling, abusive, never-take-no-for-an- answer loops who own the mailboxes he attends ... can make even this ribald mess of a wretch seem a shining haven of sanity in the prevailing Los Angeles grimnesses."