Chamblee54

Factotum

Posted in Book Reports, GSU photo archive by chamblee54 on September 14, 2019

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PG was in a seedy chinese buffet, when he realized that only a page remained on Factotum. Should he go back, and get a second cup of ice cream? The scene was far removed from the Charles Bukowski/Hank Chinaski tale of alcoholic Los Angeles. The time is World War II, a conflict that is seldom mentioned. Hank does not seem to miss anything.

There is a barber shop a couple of shops down from the chinese buffet. PG took his brother, GP, to get a haircut there. 082719 – Took GP to the barber shop. Since the basement barber shop has closed, GP wanted to go to Eliot’s Barber Shop in Chamblee Plaza. There has been a bs in that spot as long as PG can remember. The barber pole may be the original one. It looks like it has taken direct sunlight, and the red white and blue is now pink gray and lavender. Below the pole were paper boxes for the fishwrapper and CL. They are seldom used now.

A parking spot was open in front of the bs, and PG took it. Next door was a UPS store. There must have been four or five vehicles to park next to him, in the twenty minutes or so that it took the barber to cut GP’s hair. The last one was a red pickup, with big tires and a Forstyth county plate. The book was Factotum by Charles Bukowski. The young man is in New York and Philly. Every time a truck pulled into the parking spot, young Hank has gotten another crappy job, and left it to get drunk. PG was beginning to notice a pattern when GP came out of the bs.

Hank Chinaski is not an inspiring character. He is a drunk. No one knows how many jobs he got fired from in Factotum. It is like counting how many drinks George and Martha enjoyed in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? “I always started a job with the feeling that I’d soon quit or be fired, and this gave me a relaxed manner that was mistaken for intelligence or some secret power.”

Hank is a hetero. Jan is the lady Hank keeps coming back to/coming in to. Jan drinks as much as Hank, and has a nasty mouth. “She was compulsively unfaithful – she’d go off with anyone she met in a bar, and the lower and the dirtier he was the better she liked it. She was continually using our arguments to justify herself. I kept telling myself that all the women in the world weren’t whores, just mine.” Jan did have one redeeming quality. “jan was an excellent fuck… she had a tight pussy and she took it like it was a knife that was killing her.”

“You know, I’m not a clothes man. Clothes bore me. They are terrible things, cons, like vitamins, astrology, pizzas, skating rinks, pop music, heavyweight championship fights, etc.” “We all sat there and looked at each other and didn’t look at each other. We chewed gum, drank coffee, went into restrooms, urinated, slept. We sat on the hard benches and smoked cigarettes we didn’t want to smoke. We looked at each other and didn’t like what we saw.”

“That scene in the office stayed with me. Those cigars, the fine clothes. I thought of good steaks, long rides up winding driveways that led to beautiful homes. Ease. Trips to Europe. Fine women. Were they that much more clever than I? The only difference was money, and the desire to accumulate it. I’d do it too! I’d save my pennies. I’d get an idea, I’d spring a loan. I’d hire and fire. I’d keep whiskey in my desk drawer. I’d have a wife with size 40 breasts and an ass that would make the paperboy on the corner come in his pants when he saw it wobble. I’d cheat on her and she’d know it and keep silent in order to live in my house with my wealth. I’d fire men just to see the look of dismay on their faces. I’d
fire women who didn’t deserve to be fired.”

“I remembered my New Orleans days, living on two five-cent candy bars a day for weeks at a time in order to have leisure to write. But starvation, unfortunately, didn’t improve art. It only hindered it. A man’s soul was rooted in his stomach. A man could write much better after eating a porterhouse steak and drinking a pint of whiskey than he could ever write after eating a nickel candy bar. The myth of the starving artist was a hoax.” This book report was fueled by coffee, a bowl of basmati rice, and canned black bean fiesta. An craftsman should choose the tools that work best for him. The rice was $1.39 for a five pound bag, on the close out table at Kroger. Being cheap doesn’t have to be evil.

Hank Chinaski gets to the bottom line of the human condition. He got yet another ill-fated job. This one included working as a janitor. The importance of this job soon became manifest. “Nothing is worse than to finish a good shit, then reach over and find the toilet paper container empty. Even the most horrible human being on earth deserves to wipe his ass.”

Early in the book, Hank goes to jail for public drunk. His father… immortalized in Ham on Rye … asked him “What? You’d dare drink right after getting out of jail for intoxication?” To which Hank replied “That’s when you need a drink the most.”

PG went to Kaycee’s for dinner. It is a buffet on LaVista road, across the way from the mall. It is your basic buffet… fried chicken every night, veggies out of a can, and best of all, carrot and raisin salad every time. You go in, pay, tell the lady what you want to drink, and get your food.

Tonight the lady was a tiny asian named Busybee Helen. She brought a couple of glasses of tea, and then asked PG if he wanted some ice cream. Naturally, He said yes. Factotum is still the reading material. Hank met a lady in a bar, and wound up back at her house, along with a drunk named Wilbur, and two other ladies. Wilbur Oxnard is a closet millionaire.

The four of them go out to sea in Wilbur’s boat. Wilbur gets mad at Hank and the girls, and leaves them. The boat has plenty of food and drink, so they are not too broken up, except that it is getting cold. One by one, the girls crawl up into Hank’s bunk to get warm. In the process, they get more than warm, thanks to Hank’s pecker. Meanwhile, the other girls protest that they are friends, and that Hank shouldn’t be doing this. Did this really happen, or is it the overactive Bukowski imagination?

The ice cream never does come out. Busybee Helen asks if PG wants more tea. He says no thank you, and leaves. Life is what you make of it.“The Special Collections and Archives, Georgia State University Library”. supplies the pictures today.

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