Ham On Rye, which was published in 1982, is the story of author Bukowski’s youth. The story is told through the autobiographical character Henry Chinaski. The novel begins with his first memories of the many different legs he notices from under the table. From here we follow him through his life.
The novel is both harsh and hilarious. It emphasizes the things that have had the greatest affect on his life; how cruel his father was, how badly he suffered from acne as a teenager and how he abused alcohol in his youth.
The book expresses an underlying feeling of alienation, of being an outsider and the burning urge to be an individual.
Ham On Rye lets us look into his younger years and tells us the story of how Bukowski became Bukowski.