Tonight I read John Fante's Ask the Dust. The foreward is from Bukowski, describing how it was THE pivotal novel in shaping his writing style. Those familiar with Bukowski can definitely see it. Fante's writer is more manic than Chinaski, but he nevertheless embodies a certain idyll of the novelist working for his craft. It's fitting that this would be the first one Bukowski read, as he mirrored it in his first novel, Post Office. In both, the character/author has a few published works and is doing menial labor (or nothing) and scraping by through bars in LA. In both, they bang chicks out of their league and then get drunk, act like assholes and then succeed/fail simultaneously. Both end in similar fashion. And, both are brutally well written. If you are a Bukowski fan, I highly recomind reading Ask the Dust. If you like LA fiction, ditto. And, basically, if you like blunt, well written fiction, it's worth your time.