Henry Chinaski wanders from job to woman to job to woman in this tale of an alcoholic, usually unemployed writer. Henry Chinaski wanders into New Orleans hoping that the new city will help his state of mind. It doesn't, and the aberrant writer spends his time looking for and abruptly quitting jobs, then drinking and drinking and drinking. He leaves New Orleans for his parents' house in Los Angeles, but puts himself out of a room there because of his drinking and whoring. He moves to a boarding house but is raped by a prostitute. Troubled and poor, he makes his way to New York City. He burns out on two jobs in quick succession, decides he hates the city, and moves on to Philadelphia. We works briefly in a bar, making some friends, but leaves once again, this time for St. Louis, where he arrives in the cold of winter. It is here that he manages to sell his first short story to a noteworthy magazine.
Moving back to his hometown of LA again, Chinaski finds himself in the employ of an odd millionaire who provides Henry all he needs for his natural bent for liquor and women. When the rich man dies, Henry finds work in a bike warehouse, securing a raise when he makes it clear he can cover for the larceny that occurs there. He dates two women one after another and settles in with Jan. They spend their days drinking and having sex when he's not making deals.
He eventually get antsy in Los Angeles and moves to Miami, but his nature prevents him from holding work for any amount of time and returns to Jan in LA in short order. He catches crabs from her and badly burns himself trying to get rid of them. He has to start a janitorial job that night, so Jan bandages him up and he's on his way. As a janitor, he does little more than replace toilet paper rolls and is soon fired for sleeping on the job. He tries to get a job driving a cab but can't because of his police record. His following job ends when he has sex in the warehouse with a Japanese woman while on the clock. Henry burns through a handful of other jobs and finally breaks it off with Jan. The story ends with him half-heartedly watching an old stripper dance for him.
Best part of story, including ending:
I love Henry Chinaski as a narrator. His stories are outrageous and his humor is raw and hilarious. He lives a life that few could imagine sustaining.
Best scene in story:
I like how much he hates New York. The key to Chinaski books is Bukowski's writing. The dumbest things are happening, but his descriptions and cynical wit makes them so colorful and exciting.
Opinion about the main character:
Chinaski is lovable despite his overall filthiness. This is the key to Bukowski's success, since he was very much like Chinaski in his own life. He's ultimately just likable. Don't think so? He doesn't care.