Bukowski’s Ham On Rye is a semi-autobiographical novel that provides a revealing glimpse into Bukowski’s childhood through adolescence in Los Angeles, where he was raised. We are given a picture of a troubled outsider who felt alienated from society; who had to deal with an abusive father and severe acne, only exacerbating his alienation. Bukowski clearly lived through a tumultuous childhood, but one can not help but to recognize that this pain and suffering must have led to his development of a truly original and distinct literary voice.
Ham On Rye is compulsively readable compulsory reading. I’d go as far as saying it’s Bukowski’s best novel.