This is the first Bukowski I ever read (outside of some of his poetry) and I fell in love with the writing immediately. A description of this book probably makes it sound unpleasant. Henry Chinaski is pointlessly cruel, he is slightly misogynistic and racist, he has no friends and doesn't attempt to make any. But while he might be a bit of a violent psychopath, he's our violent psychopath. You watch Henry grow up and you can't help but be on his side, because as angry, alienating, and unkind as he is, you've seen him strike out half a dozen times in schoolyard baseball games despite giving it his all. You've seen his first childhood crush. You've seen him make his first friend and your heart aches when that friend suddenly moves away.
Ham on Rye is still my favorite Bukowski and one of my favorite books ever. It's compelling and beautifully written (as crude as it is) and is a wonderful introduction to the character of Henry. 5/5