Friday, July 12, 2013

Brunch 07.07.2013 - Post Office Book Club Meeting

Post Office

Charles Bukowski, 1971

The Misfit, Santa Monica

Hello Lovelies!

Have you ever been super impressed with yourself?  It happens to me CONSTANTLY.  And the fact that I planned ahead for the June Book Club meeting for Post Office was just one of those instances.  Since there were three of us reading this novel and all three of us thoroughly enjoy Brunch, I thought it would be the perfect setting for this meeting.  Shortly after I announced the June selection, I put an invite together for Brunch on Sunday, July 7, though I was not exactly sure where we would be going.  After reading the novel, it was very apparent what type of venue would be appropriate.























A bar.

Since I have had The Misfit on my list of places to visit for a few months now and I knew that they served Brunch, I thought it was the absolute perfect opportunity to go!























Unfortunately, one of the fabulous Book Club members was unable to attend at the last minute, so that left Bridget and myself to enjoy a most FAB Brunch.  This is my new favorite spot.  And you're about to see why!

Per usual, we ordered a French Press full of fabulous coffee and got right to perusing the Brunch cocktails.



We both decided on the Bijou.  And it was heaven!!  Mine even came with a halo.









While the description on the menu sounded quite tasty yet somewhat plain, what was put in front of us was a fizzy glass of infused vodka, grapefruit juice, and bubbly poured over a cube of raw sugar.  So much better than we had expected!  Really, how often does that happen??




The lovely East Coast Bridget.  Wearing a suit for Brunch and totally classing up the place.



I have always felt strongly that the best food choices are made with a drink in hand, and that's exactly how we made our selections.


While the Brunch menu (in the box) is quite limited, they were some very yummy looking options.

I chose the Wild Mushroom Omelet


This French-style Omelet was light and fluffy and full of Gruyere and herbs.  It was lovely.

Bridget ordered the Shakshuka which was so spicy her "brow started dewing", but she requested a second order of bread to sop up all the yumminess that was set in front of her.  Draw your own conclusions.


Before we get to all the grittiness of the novel (yes, we had to remind ourselves of the fact that the main purpose of Brunch was to discuss Post Office), I'd like to show you around The Misfit a bit.  If you don't understand why I need to live in this place, we should really part ways now...

The only fault I could really find with The Misfit was the fact that the mirrors seem to have been neglected...

LOVED the recessed ceiling detailing!

"I love you to the point of madness."  I am enamored with this phrase...leave it to the French!

We will definitely be coming back for Happy Hour (though our Brunch cocktails fell into this category)!
As if the whole experience wasn't fabulous enough, after Brunch we received a complementary chocolate chip cookie with sea salt.  Probably the best chocolate chip cookie I've ever eaten.  Seriously.























I think it's pretty clear that we only did a very minimal amount of actual Book Club business, so we got to that after we left The Misfit.  Discussing this particular novel was something that could be done rather quickly as it was very short and a rather easy read.  Bridget and I both agreed that while this novel was short, it was exactly as long as it needed to be in order to still keep our interest.  I didn't particularly like Henry, our protagonist, but I didn't particularly dislike him either.  Bridget likened him to the anti-heroes that virtually every '90's sitcom was built around, though I disagree.  Those characters tended to have some incredibly likable attributes.  This one didn't.

There weren't many redeeming qualities that Henry himself had but he was real and the writing style was gritty, entertaining, and at times it was very funny - though I would not say it was 'one of the funniest books ever written' as is claimed on the cover.  While in no way was this book terribly literary in its use of foreshadowing or symbolism or any other classic elements, there was a charm about this work...it felt less like a novel and more like storytelling, a man telling HIS story.  In this case, the storyteller was a dirty old man with whiskey on his breath, swaying from side to side in his ratty old chair.  Bridget put it best when she said that she felt hungover after reading Post Office.  Hence the bar for Brunch.
Bukowski modeled Henry Chinaski after himself and did not sugarcoat his love of drink.
I do love a man with a cat.
I knew I was about to read something unlike anything I'd read before with the (anti)dedication...

"This is presented as a work of fiction and dedicated to nobody."

While this is more of a rambling story than anything else, there are some rather amusing passages and situations.  They are honest and many times, not particularly pretty, but it's refreshing since you rarely see them in most works since many take them themselves far too seriously.  "But I couldn't help thinking, god, all these mailmen do is drop in their letters and get laid. This is the job for me, oh yes yes yes."  Sometimes there was humor and other times there was self deprecation and humor laced with deep sadness.  "I was lost in the dark and the rain. Was I some kind of idiot, actually? Did I make things happen to myself? It was possible. It was possible that I was subnormal, that I was lucky just to be alive."

There isn't much about this novel to summarize as the plot is far less important than the experience of reading it.  And while I first thought that I wouldn't be reading any of his other works, I'm not so sure about that anymore because, aside from some vulgarity that was even a little much for me, I really liked the experience of reading Post Office.  So much so that I did it in just one sitting.  There's this authenticity in the picture that Bukowski paints of the experience working in the Post Office since the story is autobiographical - he seems to have only changed a few names along the way.  The novel was published very shortly after he left the post office after working there for nearly 12 years and in a letter written to a friend of his, he explains, "I have one of two choices - stay in the post office and go crazy...or stay out here and play at writer and starve. I have decided to starve."  Another very authentic aspect of the novel is his depiction of Los Angeles - a depiction which can only come from someone who has spent their entire life here.  Southern California natives do not feel the need to only show the glitz that most people associate with L.A.  The seedy underbelly, the grit, the fact that it is the birthplace of the Noir genre is such a large part of this city's history and Bukowski had seen and felt it all.  His family moved to South Central Los Angeles when he was just 10 years old and he never really left - spending the rest of his life living in various places in L.A., in mostly rough areas which greatly influenced his writing.  In 1986, Time called Bukowski a "laureate of American lowlife".  If you want an idea of Bukowski's voice, you can take a short tour of L.A. with him.  It's especially fun because he seems to have had a few drinks before (and possibly during) this little tour from 1985!



I hope you enjoyed the June Book Club Selection.  If you didn't read it last month and you need a short, interesting read, you might consider picking up Post Office.  Also, if you haven't made up your mind about joining the Book Club for July, I have the feeling that while The Misfit is my new favorite Brunch spot, the outing for July's Book Club Meeting is going to be far more fabulous than this one!  It's going to be quite the field trip!!

I hope to see you all at the next Book Club meeting!  Happy reading lovelies!!
XOXO

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