For Work / Against Work
Debates on the centrality of work

Factotum

by Bukowski, Charles (2009)

Abstract

Henry Chinaski, an outcast, a loner and a hopeless drunk, drifts around America from one dead-end job to another, from one woman to another and from one bottle to the next. Uncompromising, gritty, hilarious and confessional in turn, his downward spiral is peppered with black humour. Factotum follows Charles Bukowski's bestselling Post Office, his highly autobiographical first novel. Bukowski's Beat Generation writing reflects his slum upbringing, his succession of menial jobs and his experience of low life urban America. He died in 1994 and is widely acknowledged as one of the most distinctive writers of the last fifty years. Neeli Cherkovski was a close friend of Bukowski and is the author of Hank- The Life of Charles Bukowski (Random House, 1991)

Key Passage

The work was easy and dull but the clerks were in a constant state of turmoil. They were worried about their jobs. There was a mixture of young men and women and there didn't seem to be a foreman. After several hours an argument began between two of the women. It was something about the magazines. We were packing comic books and something had gone wrong across the table. The two women became violent as the argument went on. "Look," I said, "these books aren't worth reading let alone arguing about." "All right," one of the women said, "we know you think you're too good for this job." "Too good?" "Yes, your attitude. You think we didn't notice it?" "Yes, your attitude. You think we didn't notice it?" That's when I first learned that it wasn't enough to just do your job, you had to have an interest in it, even a passion for it. (p.5)

Keywords

Bukowski, Anti Work, Against Work, Menial Work, Beat Generation, Humour, Pleasure, Satisfaction, Literature, Fiction

Themes

Resistance to Work

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